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Bayonetta 2 (Wii U) review

Katharine Byrne
24 Oct 2014
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Bayonetta 2 header
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
41
inc VAT

With its excellent combat and spectacular set-pieces, the Wii U's Bayonetta 2 will rightly make PS4 and Xbox One owners green with jealousy

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Specifications

Available formats: Nintendo Wii U

If there's one thing the Wii U does well, it's the number of exclusive games it has compared to the PS4 and Xbox One. Its sales may not be a great success story, but at a time when both of its rivals are struggling to stand out from one another, the Wii U is streets ahead when it comes to providing a unique and varied games library.

The only problem, depending on your point of view, is that nearly all of them are made by Nintendo itself, with very few third party developers coming out to show their support. If anything, any non-Nintendo exclusives the company has had, such as Resident Evil Revelations and Castlevania Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate on the 3DS, have subsequently been re-released on other formats (to much greater success, we might add) in the intervening years.

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^ Bayonetta has a new look for her second Wii U outing, although quite how she still manages to summon huge demons with her shorter magic hair is beyond us

That's why Bayonetta 2, the sequel to PlatinumGames' superb action game of the same name, is quite possibly the biggest coup in Nintendo history. With so many developers rushing out to court Nintendo's competition, it's rare to see the process being reversed, especially considering the first Bayonetta was originally released to such great acclaim on the Xbox 360. This will no doubt upset fans of the game who don't own a Wii U, but that's arguably the whole point of system exclusives – to make fans go out and buy those consoles so they can get the next slice of their favourite games.  

And we'd say it's definitely worth it. We thought the first Bayonetta was fantastic on Wii U (which is handily being bundled into retail copies of Bayonetta 2 as a double-disc pack), but its sequel raises the stakes even further, showing an evolution in Platinum's sense of style and spectacle.

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^ Enemies are beautifully designed and nearly every new battle introduces another unique adversary

From the outset, this is a leaner, more refined game that feels cleaner in its presentation and overall structure. For instance, the game's platforming and exploration sections between fights now feel denser and more tightly packed, with secrets and hidden challenge chambers tucked away into every possible nook and cranny. All the extras and collectible items have their own chapter-by-chapter menu screen, too, giving you a clearer idea on how you're progressing and which ones you've missed in each level.

There's also now a dedicated practice space where you can test out new moves on the loading screens, which was one of our main complaints with the first game. Just hit the minus button to begin and then take on the next stage of the level as and when you're ready.

Bayonetta 2's also a lot more colourful, taking the dour creams, browns and blacks of the first game and spicing them up with streaks of blue, purple, yellow and orange. In the hands of a less confident developer, this extra burst of eye candy might cloud the onscreen action, but Platinum certainly know how to create a good set-piece. We didn't think it was possible for Platinum to top the first game's riding up the side of a rocket on the back of a motorcycle, but the first level alone shows this studio has a lot more to give in its flair for cinematics. If taking down a pack of newly-designed angels on the back of a jet plane through a the game's equivalent of New York City isn't enough to get your blood pumping, then sprouting a pair of wings to fight one of your own wayward demons (which is easily 100x your size) surely will.

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^ Combat is beautifully fluid, but Bayonetta's hair animations are arguably even more silky smooth

The attention to detail is outstanding. In a game where whole cities are created as mere table-dressing for more intimate fight scenes, Bayonetta 2 looks and feels far richer than its predecessor. This in turn allows for more dynamic battles, and nowhere is this more evident in your first showdown with the game's main antagonist. As you deal with your foe in the foreground, each character's respective angels and demons are also duking it out in the background, giving you two fights to take into account rather than just one.

Another favourite moment came from one of the earlier boss battles where you fight underwater. Witch Time, which briefly stops the flow of battle so you can kick the stuffing out of your opponents, is crucial in this fight, and activating it at just the right moment will reveal the split-second air bubble created by your enemy's huge sword as he attempts to take a swing at you. It's details like these that really elevate Bayonetta 2 above Platinum's previous work, and its beautiful sense of artistry is like nothing else we've seen on the Wii U.

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^ As you show the last Lumen Sage what you're made of, you'll also need to watch out for incoming demon attacks in front of you

However, while the game's visual ambition often feels like it's freewheeling to ever greater heights, there's been a definite ramming of brakes in the game's overall difficulty. We suspect this is in order to cater for the Wii U's slightly more casual audience, but the game's Normal mode is far more lenient than its predecessor. Healing items are much more readily available and getting hit no longer depletes your magic meter. This not only makes it easier to execute gruesome Torture Attacks, which are only triggered once your magic gauge has reached full power, but it also gives you greater access to Bayonetta 2's biggest change in the combat system: the Umbran Climax.

Umbran Climaxes are essentially a super-powered alternative to the Torture Attack and are triggered in exactly the same way. These let you thread several demon-sized fists and kicks together one after the other, allowing you to deal huge blows to any enemy or boss standing in your way. They're a great visual reward for building up your combos, but they no longer feel quite as well-earned as the Torture Attacks did in the original Bayonetta.

Bayonetta 2 screenshot

^ You can equip weapons on both your arms and legs, leading to some truly imaginative combos that radically alter Bayonetta's speed and strength

The rest of the combat system has remained largely unchanged, providing all the familiar depth and complexity fans of the original game have come to expect. As we mentioned in our review of the first Bayonetta, its emphasis on just two buttons (punch and kick respectively) can often feel like you're simply mashing the controller in order to succeed, but there's a lot more to Bayonetta's various movesets than meets the eye.

For starters, the number of possible combos is just as mind-boggling as before, and that's just for one weapon combination. Throw in additional techniques, accessories and a huge variety of new weapon styles and there's plenty to discover and sink your teeth into. You'll undoubtedly settle on a few favourite moves and combos, but when nearly every battle introduces yet another new enemy type, the continual need to adapt your strategy keeps Bayonetta 2 feeling fresh at all times. It's easily one of the most varied and enjoyable battle systems we've played, and we have to admire Platinum for creating such wide-ranging yet accessible techniques. Admittedly, the game's lower difficulty arguably renders the finer points of combat less important, but you can always turn it up to Hard if you find it too easy.

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^ Umbran Climaxes are a great way to one-up your friend in Tag Climax mode, but we wish you had to work harder for them

Bayonetta 2 also has a new co-op mode called Tag Climax, which sees you play through a series of six consecutive battles with friends or other players online (or the CPU for those with less stable internet connections) to earn extra halos. Borrowing a similar kind of risk and reward system to Super Smash Bros and Kid Icarus Uprising on the 3DS, the level of difficulty and the number of rewards increase with the number of halos you bet on each fight. It's certainly a fun way to show off your skills, but it's essentially nothing more than a quick money-making machine for the main story items.  

Still, you'll want to earn those halos if only to unlock the additional Nintendo costumes from Mario, Zelda and Metroid. These are brilliant touches, seamlessly adding a little bit of extra flair and Nintendo fan service into Bayonetta's fighting style, but our favourite is definitely the new Star Fox costume. This turns Bayonetta's arsenal of guns into tiny Arwings, complete with Fox, Slippy, Falco and Peppy keychains dangling off the triggers. Even the sound effects for discovering new treasures are straight out of Star Fox, and equipping the costume on one particular level will have fans of the series giggling with delight.

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^ If we could sum up Bayonetta 2 with a single screenshot, it would be this one...

Ultimately, Bayonetta 2 is a joy from start to finish. While some aspects may have been toned down since the first game, the sheer sense of scale and spectacle on show makes us wonder how Platinum could possibly top it. Plus, with the first game essentially being thrown in for free if you choose the double-disc pack, this is easily one of the best value Wii U games you can buy right now. Finally, Wii U owners have a game to be smug about. It wins a Best Buy award.  

Availability
Available formatsNintendo Wii U
System Requirements
Price including VAT£41
Supplierwww.argos.co.uk
Detailswww.nintendo.co.uk
Product codeN/A
Hard disk space14.7GB

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