One of the finest third-person action games of the past decade, Platinum Games' Bayonetta really felt like the ultimate version of the Devil May Cry series. Visually stunning, completely over the top and oozing sexiness, Bayonetta was an incredibly appealing game to many, with a flashy combat system that was easy to learn, yet difficult to master - but expectedly so satisfying. With Nintendo missing out on the first game, the table has now turned, as the company has partnered with Platinum to publish the sequel exclusively on Wii U, complete with a new-look Bayonetta. With much excitement, Cubed3 was able to try out the very first gameplay of Bayonetta 2.
Based on plays of the original Bayonetta, it was expected of this demo to be fast, intense and a good challenge, so naturally, jumping straight into normal mode (the hardest mode on the show floor) was top priority, and it didn't disappoint. The first part of the demo had Bayonetta fighting against centaur-like angels on a fast moving jet through a city which acted as a warm up to get newcomers used to the combat. Using the regular button control scheme, the game plays much like its prequel, using X to punch and A to kick, whilst also creating quick and powerful combos in time with the movement of the left analogue stick. It felt completely natural to get into and was fun just trying out different combinations of attacking. The ZR trigger was used to dodge, which, in turn with accurate timing, activates Witch Time - a mechanic that slows down time for the world around Bayonetta, giving players the chance to launch a flurry of attacks without worrying about the enemy's attacks. Once enough energy has been built, players can unleash the Umbran Climax attack with the L button, which is a more powerful version of the normal attacks and only lasts in short bursts. Umbra moves throw a barrage of giant punches and kicks that appear out of portals in the enemy's direction, which are particularly fun to watch - especially seeing a giant boot splatter an angel all over the place.
The demo also allowed for the ability to change weapons, so Bayonetta won't always have to use her pistols. Bayonetta could switch to dual swords in her hands and magic whips on her boots, which added a whole new range of attacks. The insane torture attacks also make a return, able to activate every now and then to finish an enemy off in style by mashing a button, or turning an analogue stick to build up power. Angels yet again drop halos which are used to measure points and currency.
After a while, the jet gets destroyed by a giant monster angel and Bayonetta moves on with some quick time jumping to reach a train speeding across a bridge, which marked the end of the first section of the demo (that our very own Stu got a platinum award on, no less). The train section marked the start of the first boss - a big golem-like angel named Belief. The opening part of the battle started with the monster chasing the train and Bayonetta having to dodge attacks and hit the monster when the opportunity came (which was often). The foe could be attacked wherever its flesh was exposed, which was indicated by a lipstick mark to help players focus if they lost their bearings.
Eventually, Jeanne, Bayonetta's fellow Umbra Witch, shows up and fires missiles at Belief with a jet, causing the foe to tumble and grab on to the train, giving Bayonetta the opportunity to jump onto its arm and attack its face directly. The bridge collapses, leading the way to the next part of the battle, with Bayonetta fighting alongside an AI-controlled Jeanne to continue wreaking havoc upon the boss. The idea for this section was to attack the monster's legs, topple it over, and then use a punishment attack with Bayonetta and Jeanne combined to do loads of damage to it. This was incredibly fun, though not as challenging as the first part, since the action takes place on a stable platform. To finish off the enemy, Bayonetta calls out one of her summons as Belief gets launched into the air, and some button mashing is again in order to build up power to bite the monster apart. The amount of power built up doesn't affect the enemy dying, but it does affect the overall score.
With Belief killed, Bayonetta's summon, Gomorrah, breaks free of her binds through the gates of hell and attacks its former master, who Jeanne pushes out of the way, only to get her spirit knocked out of her - literally. Jeanne's spirit gets dragged into the pits of hell and Bayonetta then starts to fight Gomorrah, who is climbing up a tower. At this point, Bayonetta grows some wings to chase it and a very insane battle ensues in the sky. The air combat adds a different way of controlling Bayonetta's movement, but attacks are generally the same with a punishment marking different parts of the boss as the tower is climbed up. This boss was much harder than Belief, with him being something like 20-40 times the size, although the flying feels very natural and Gomorrah was a nice graphical showcase with the destruction of the tower and the city landscape coming into view. The boss battle ends with it launching itself at Bayonetta, and one of her other summons finishes it off, with a crushing defeat. The demo then ends with a short scene showing Bayonetta carrying Jeanne's body.
A touch screen combat mode was available to try out, with players using strictly the GamePad, and although Cubed3 didn't get the opportunity to try this out on the day, it certainly looked like it could work well. The game is looking even better than the first Bayonetta and with a 2014 release date, there's every chance it can be even more visually stunning by then. This is one to look forward to.
Those that played the first Bayonetta title will be expecting more of the same in this highly anticipated sequel. What Platinum Games has shown off already will definitely excite those fans, with clearly a lot of work going into the graphical side of the game, but also promises to deliver with its stylistically pleasing combat and pure crazy battles against huge monsters. Some of the downright outrageous finishing moves couldn't help but crack a smile, as it felt more than satisfying to grind foes to a pulp in spectacular ways. A two-player mode and Off-TV Play are a couple more of the features confirmed for Bayonetta 2, which should be an action title to certainly keep a firm eye on for all Wii U owners.