Review: Bayonetta 2 (***** stars) Part 4 – Differences

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Of course, we might say none of this matter when placing two players into a combat action game of such spectacle; so much crap happens on screen that I found it incredibly hard to tell what was happening. You just mash the attack button as fast as you can, dodge anything you can, and hope that you live through it. That goes especially if, like me, your co-op partners overestimate their ability to finish a fight without dying horribly, which then causing me to die horribly trying to revive them. Hurray for starting over! I imagine two skilled players over voice chat could make a go at some of the more unbelievably insane challenges (like the Bayonetta/Jeanne fight, or most of the fights at three star difficulty), but random match-making turns that impossible pretty quick. The long and the short of it is: find some skilled friends, and figure out how to overcome challenges; then, and only then, does Tag Climax represent something worth your while. Supposedly it works for halo farming as well, but other single-player levels (specifically Chapter XIV) render this moot.

It does make me sad that two characters remain exclusive to the multiplayer mode, Balder and Rodin. Each has a unique move set unavailable anywhere else, and I’d love to experiment with them and a move list sometime in the main game. Unfortunately, they’re exclusive to the online mode; I can only hope they patch this at some point in the near future, or fans ask for a Tag Climax offline mode for single player. At the very least, making their move sets available to Bayonetta/Jeanne would represent some fun times!

rodin bayonetta 2

Of course, Rodin is really slow…

And I say “expansion pack” again, mostly due to these additions bringing literally nothing being different other than a few basic things (new weapons, style, design, etc). The way the game actually plays remains identical. That’s a bit of a shame in some ways, but also an admission that Bayonetta itself remains a high water mark for combat systems in general. Just copying it really doesn’t strike me as a bad idea at all! Still, I hoped for a little bit more from Platinum Games than a mere retread and a roll through their greatest hits (seriously, a whole section of a game copies stuff wholesale from the first game in some pretty brilliant ways).

As for higher level play, some thing were lost, balanced, or just completely removed. While Dodge Offset seems much more important, given how enemies interrupt your strings now, it seems Jump Cancelling (which allowed for nearly infinite height/cancelling in the original game) doesn’t exist anymore due to Witch Twist’s new input method (press punch immediately upon jumping). Other than using Alaruna, it seems that you’re hard-capped to two jumps, which makes the aerial combo game a little less interesting by default. Buffering attacks also feels strange this time around, and I’m not exactly clear on the timing of it; it could be due to the variable frames per second of the game itself (assuming the game logic is actually dependent on frame rate), but it does feel a little more sluggish than the previous game. Also, any variation on Dodge Offset (Crow, Taunt) no longer exist. I’m sure more knowledgeable players could point out other problems, but there’s still plenty of freedom to go hogwild on the combo videos.

With all this said, I think I give the impression that Bayonetta 2 isn’t very good. That’s far from the case; most of the positive praise I gave the original Bayonetta applies here, from the absolutely crazy cutscenes and characters to the precision of the combat. I still find it loads better than literally every other similar game in the market. In the end, it remains as enjoyable as ever to master and exploit the system itself; Bayonetta 2 remains only second to Bayonetta. Which isn’t a bad thing!

Many of the elements I listed as flaws above just represent differences from the original. Hey, if there’s tons of new visual noise, then it will take a lot more time to discern it. If enemies attack from offscreen, then you can remain aware of enemies when they’re offscreen. If you don’t want to find yourself in weird camera positions, then don’t go there. Once the aesthetics disappear and the surprise of the actual story mode fades, the combat comes into razor sharp relief, and boy is it ever satisfying. Most of my skills came from the original game, but they switched up everything just enough to turn Bayonetta 2 into a challenge; I’d say the game ramps up around Chapter 10, and continues to amp up from there. The plot also ends in a fun time loop (which I’m guessing exists because, let’s be honest, a Bayonetta 3 would REALLY be far-fetched at this point).

In the end, I think Bayonetta 2 deserves anyone’s time as a really interesting sequel to the original Bayonetta. However, it does display a penchant for taking one step forward and one step back quite often. In other words, I still sorta prefer the first game. That doesn’t make Bayonetta 2 a bad game; it’s better than 99% of all other games in this genre. Rather, it just means you’ll have to settle for an exemplary combat action sequence similar to the first, rather than something truly new. Refinement’s the name of the game, and I think Bayonetta 2 did as good a job as you can without the original director/budget at the helm.

And, really, I’m being much more harsh with it than I should be. My arbitrary standards mean a whole lot of nothing in the long run. You gotta have a sense of grace, even for some with high expectations. God did, and so should we. People and things might disappoint us, but God’s grace never will. God demonstrates His righteousness and His grace; He is the standard, but He put Himself against that standard to prove He stands above and beyond the Law. I suppose this is why we are told not to judge, since God refused to judge any but His Son.

24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Romans 3

That is, as we would say in Christian circles, God is the only righteous judge. We can, however, grasp at this…but also note how we can falter. Maybe Bayonetta 2 is better than the original; I can’t really say. Still, considering you get both games when you purchase it, anybody can make a direct comparison. Don’t take my word for it; consider this review a sterling recommendation of both games!

About Zachery Oliver

Zachery Oliver, MTS, is the lead writer for Theology Gaming, a blog focused on the integration of games and theological issues. He can be reached at viewtifulzfo at gmail dot com or on Theology Gaming’s Facebook Page.