Bayonetta 2 Wii U review: stylish chaos and some of the best boss battles of all time

Bayonetta has received its fair share of criticism for its sexualised lead, but the game can be seen as empowering - and its undeniably good fun

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The Independent Tech

Nintendo may have had a hard time selling the Wii U, but have at least managed to come out fighting with a commendably strong line-up for the second half of the year. One of the few third-party developers still fully on board, Platinum Games follow last year’s enjoyable The Wonderful 101 with a sequel to 2009’s Bayonetta appearing exclusively on Wii U.

The titular character is an Umbra Witch, looking at first glance like something from a librarian’s fever dream, peering over her glasses coyly and shedding skimpy garments in the name of special moves. With guns in her heels and a twinkle in her eye, she cheerfully takes apart an army of airborne demons in the midst of her Christmas shopping, where the story begins.

From then on it is all Loki and no low-key in Platinum Games’ house dictionary, as the game unfolds in cheerfully preposterous fashion. With a bewildering plot providing convenient excuses for a series of epic boss battles, each more outrageously excellent than the last, Bayonetta 2 delights in the chaos it brings.

This flight into fantasy allows the designers to twist perspective into indulgent Escher-like forms, with arenas scattered like debris in space, made up from the fragmented neo-Classical architecture of ruined cities. The action is as breathless as that sounds, a constant assault as you scrap through subterranean churches and Möbius strips unwinding in spectacular fashion.

Within each chapter are several verses. Players receive medals at the end of each verse and chapter, ranging from stone to pure platinum depending on the style and speed with which you vanquish your foes.

 

In an inversion of the old maxim that defence is the best form of attack, dodging enemy attacks is paramount to success, as taking evasive action at the right moment allows you to enter Witch Time. Here battle slows down, providing an opportune moment to execute a tasty combination move on helpless foes. Or, if your magic meter is fully charged, an exorbitantly powerful Umbran Climax can be summoned to deal serious damage.

Operating on several levels, Bayonetta 2 works both for novice players and seasoned fighters alike, the combat system deep and rich as you figure out fresh ways to subvert attacks and punish opponent’s weaknesses as effectively as possible.

Fragments of golden LPs are scattered throughout the game, and collecting matching segments allows their redemption in exchange for upgrades at the Gates of Hell, where you can also purchase ever-more outlandish special attacks, weapons and accessories, all accompanied by jazz music and dodgy wisecracks supplied by owner Rodin.

Overall there’s a lot to like and little to gripe about – some oddly low-resolution cut-scenes here, some irritating camera angles there – but what’s a few niggles against the ability to smoothly breakdance with guns firing from your skyward stiletto heels, then finishing the move with a sly wink as the world collapses around you?

Bayonetta 2 does an admirable job of building on the original’s cult quality, and shows Platinum Games continuing to excel with their innovative work on WiiU.

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