Umbran witch Bayonetta finds herself caught in the middle of a grand struggle between angels and demons--ridiculously powerful beings of all sizes. What's a girl to do? Strap on some gun-heels, let down her hair, and summon her monstrous pets when needed. Bayonetta 2 exists, and it is an over-the-top, ballistic action romp that fills a genre-void on Wii U, standing atop its class with incredibly diverse yet fluid combat.
In battle, an always climactic affair, Bayonetta brings forth large, demonic beasts to pummel her opponents in finishing combos during Umbran Climax. When in Umbran Climax, a mode accesible by dodging attacks at the last possible moment, which activates a slow-motion mechanic known as Witch-Time, Bayonetta's attacks are bigger, more glorious, and powerful. Witch-time brings the frantic fights to a stand-still for a few seconds, and it remains an integral part of the Bayonetta franchise's identity as a superb action series. Why? For one, it emphasizes the importance of the player executing great dodge moves. Defense becomes equally as important as offense. Secondly, it encompasses several combat factors: dodging increases magic power for Umbran Climax, rewards the player with an advantage against foes in slow-motion, and it looks magnificent in action.
In other words, Bayonetta 2's combat is more than meets the eye; it is quite deep. Additionally, with goodies you find scattered abroad the stages, you can concoct a bevy of lollipops that can be used to enhance Bayonetta's attack power, defense, or health in battle. So while the fighting system revolves around three commands and a dodge mechanic, Platinum Games has crafted a game whose combat is a few feet wide and miles deep. At Rodin's store at The Gates of Hell, you can purchase new combos, weapons, accessories, and wardrobes. Thus, another layer of Bayonetta 2's combat system is revealed: attack customization. More than that, Bayonetta 2 gets a lot of points for style.
Bayonetta's moves are magnificent spectacles, not because her clothing tends to disappear (it's complicated to try to explain here), but because the action runs at a smooth frame-rate and combines the knitty-gritty with a mouth-watering palette of colors and adrenaline-inducing music. While on the topic of good-looks, Bayonetta 2 is an absolutely gorgeous game with memorable characters that are easy on the eyes and unforgettable environments. Within these places, Bayonetta 2 introduces some superb set-pieces that include Bayonetta battling Centaur-like "angels" on top of an out-of-control jet, transforming into a panther and dashing across a whirlpool, and fighting an unfathomably large foe on a giant, floating piece of debris. By the way, those aforementioned moments are all in the first half of the game, and that is not even scratching the surface of what Bayonetta 2 has to offer, not even the first half!
Clocking in at around eleven hours, Bayonetta 2's campaign is a non-stop thrill-ride that is perfectly paced, but there is more to do after it is over. New missions appear, and there is plenty incentive to replay every stage to earn better trophies and harvest halos to buy great secrets from Rodin's store. An online component exists as well, but I have lousy internet service, so I did not experience this part of the game. What I did experience was a near-flawless action game that never skips a beat. Near flawless, you say? A few control issues occur in underwater sections, but that is no biggie.
Some critics and fans complain that the story is convoluted nonsense, but I think it is a simple plot that is somewhat sloppily conveyed for most of the game. Things start to clear up as the game progresses, though I cannot say that the story is necessarily "great." Perhaps the most controversial aspect of Bayonetta 2 is--surprise, surprise--its overt female sexualization. As a rebuttal, I say that Bayonetta 2 thrives on several different stereotypes, and it does not take itself seriously in such characterizations. Neither should you. I am morally conservative, but I make distinctions between what is important in the grand-scheme of things, between reality and fiction. All that said, Bayonetta 2 is a game that Wii U owners need to support, even if the game does not bring many new users to Nintendo's latest system. A magnific release such as this does not deserve to be ignored.
Note: This review is for Bayonetta 2 only. I am not rating and reviewing Wii U's total Bayonetta 2 package, which includes Bayonetta. I will write a separate review for Bayonetta as well as a review for Bayonetta + Bayonetta 2 as a package on Wii U.