Preview events are a mixed bag. Sometimes you turn up, play whatever game it is you're there to see, and then toddle off back to the office to write a preview. Easy. Simple. Done.
And then sometimes you're embargoed. Time and date is a common thing, but very occasionally there are some really weird stipulations about what you can report, and what you can't. It's the latter that happened yesterday, when a sheet of A4 paper was slipped over the desk for me to look at, listing no less than nineteen unspeakable things about Bayonetta 2.
But… honestly. Not a problem. I'd never intended this preview to list the kind of minutiae Nintendo wants to keep a closely-guarded secret for now. Nope. This was a short session with a Bayonetta 2 demo that featured about 75% of content that's already been seen in one form or another. All I wanted to do was get in as much playtime as possible to see whether or not the game I've already copiously waxed lyrical about is still on course to be the utterly bonkers festival of ludicrousness it promises to be.
The verdict? Upon due consideration of the evidence that was presented on the screen before me, I believe it would be prudent to answer in the affirmative.
It's difficult to describe just how utterly over-the-top Bayonetta 2 is without spoiling much of what makes it such a spectacle of magnificent proportions. All you really need to know is that the game continually layers moments of utter insanity, stylized slow-mos, and crazy set pieces, each more outlandish than the last. It all adds up to some of the most excitingly kinetic action you'll find in any game, anywhere.
Yep. This is classic Bayonetta. Strutting her stuff once again, with more combos than ever before, all-new special moves, and even less attention paid to annoying things like the laws of physics. Her attire seems to have a mind of its own, she has an expanded repertoire of non-sequiturs, and the stuff she's fighting – apparently notable because I can't tell you much about it – is weird, wonderful and occasionally disturbing.
If that sounds similar to the first Bayonetta, then yes, this sequel very much follows in the gun-heeled bootsteps of its predecessor. However, it's a lot more chaotic: the plot, for want of a better word, careens along, bouncing from one bizarre set piece to another. Sometimes there might be a little exploring involved, while at other times the enemies are served up in a series of waves, forming one continual action sequence. Rarely does anything stop still.
The game feels tight, and the combo system is easy to pick up on a basic level, but has depth enough to ensure expert players can really pull the stops out for some spectacular-looking fights, and blistering finishing moves.
What I particularly like about Bayonetta 2 is that while its gameplay gets right up in your grille, and it's certainly not something that you'd ever want to play with a hangover, it's never unbearable. The absolute craziest stuff might be going on, but there's a flow to it, and it's presented with a certain sense of humor and, of course, bags of style. The whole thing is very well choreographed and staged, yet doesn't feel contrived. It's highly voyeuristic too, with lashings of saucy camerawork serving up a feast of eyebrow-raising vistas. Not that anyone's remotely interested in that aspect of the game, I'm sure.
I had an absolute blast playing Bayonetta 2, and it made for a very short hour. I left wishing I could play it more, which is exactly what I hoped, because every time I've spent time with it previously, it's been a blast. Yesterday was no different. Let's hope it continues to be so when the game hits the streets in October.
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