The eagerly awaited sequel to Hideki Kamiya's Bayonetta arrives exclusively on Wii U in October.
Set a few months after the action of the first game, a fantastic introductory sequence brings us to New York City at Christmas time. Bayonetta is shopping for some last-minute gifts, accompanied by her Pesci-esque perma-swearing informant Enzo.
The arrival of fellow Umbra Witch Jeanne on a motorbike coincides with a holiday parade that includes a flyover from the Platinum Stars, daredevil stunt planes that soon serve as a platform for the action when the Third Sphere Angels turn up looking for a fight. Fighting starts immediately, with no tedious tutorials to sleepwalk through, and a well-rounded selection of difficulty modes allows those unfamiliar with the hectic battling to compete without frustration.
Combat is perfectly pitched, the hectic button-bashing combos contrasting against the serene moments of Witch Time, a slowdown effect that occurs when players perfectly time their evasive backflips. All attacks charge a magic gauge which, when full, allows an Umbran Climax to be unleashed upon opponents which lays waste to all but the toughest of enemies.
As you hop from jet to jet, vanquishing Angels with long legs and sarcastic remarks, Rodin from the first game appears as a Blaxploitation Santa, driving a limegreen Cadillac through a police blockade and onto the side of the building before tossing fresh guns to Bayonetta. There's no let-up in the activity as a a kamikaze jet almost flies into a toy shop where Enzo is attempting to buy his son a present, and before long Bayonetta is summoning Demons that explode from the sides of skyscrapers.
Bayonetta 2 screenshots
Jeanne's soul is captured during the battle, leaving her physical body limp and useless. This incites the quest that forms much of the rest of the game, which sees Bayonetta visit the Gates of Hell to try and recapture said lost soul in time for tasty turkey.
A rare game where the in-play graphics actually look better than the cut-scenes, Bayonetta 2 radiates with the polish of a game created with love and care. It looks to be every bit as sharp as its predecessor. Whether a fight in an empty cathedral full of gorgeous stained-glass lighting, or the execution of a special torture attack involving an Iron Maiden, there is always something to feast eyes upon as your fingers tap away at complex combinations.
Performance is graded at the end of each level, from Pure Platinum down to Stone for the heavy-fingered players. There are plenty of reasons to play each chapter again, not least because often players can find a route through without taking part in every verse. Various upgrades are available from Rodin's shop, so you can acquire lollipops for Bayonetta to seductively devour, fortifying her powers during particularly taxing encounters.
Platinum Games have spent years cultivating a good reputation, and releasing this in partnership with Nintendo looks set to further that standing with another excellent addition to their software library.