Archive for February, 2010
This is probably my fault for not having scoured the Internet for the minute slivers of hard information on this subject, but I was originally very excited to hear that I would be able to set the back-story for Shepard in Mass Effect 2 if I did not have a Mass Effect 1 save to import. Despite words to this effect being spoken on the Bombcast by BioWare’s Casey Hudson, it would appear that the game makes several terrible assumptions about the canon of Mass Effect if you do not import a save game.
The reason this is a problem is because I played the original on the PC, but wanted to play Mass Effect 2 on Xbox 360. Ironically, I’d have been in a much better situation if it were the other way around, with all the PC saves that are out there to download as a direct result of this. However, as it is, I’m stuck with a universe that’s hard to care about because characters are talking about things that just didn’t happen. Every time I hear a reference to events that simply never were (as far as I’m concerned), I cringe, as if watching a bad B-movie that can’t remember it’s own plot half-way through the film.
Knowing that this feature once existed in a build of the game further fuels my incredulity at how this was never included in the final package.
Aside from this glaring omission of functionality, the game plays very well and provides much more satisfying combat than the original. I also appreciate how the loot management has been reduced to zero, allowing the player to focus on the story and the experience of the Mass Effect universe.
Now if only my Shepard could be my Shepard.
Having now played Bayonetta at least 3 times through, which I can tell you is a rare occurrence for the way I play games these days, that should be a good indication of the quality on offer throughout this game. When I think back to the images I witnessed coming out of E3 last year and then TGS, I was cautiously hopeful that the game would deliver all the craziness I was seeing while maintaining a balanced game that wouldn’t be as punishing as Ninja Gaiden, but with perhaps more fulfilling combat than God of War. On my first wish, Bayonetta delivers in in gloriously lavish spades, with combat feeling like a finely choreographed dance as much as it does convey a sense of otherworldly power. Fortunately, this combat is also deep and rewarding, with mechanics such as Witch Time promoting good timing over perfectly memorized combos.
I can’t say enough about just how good the combat feels in Bayonetta. I found myself actually being excited to get into another brawl with heaven’s minions, rather than feeling like each scrap was just an obstacle on my way to the real destination. Aside from the mechanics such as Witch Time, making the player feel powerful without making the game easy, every battle is coated in so many layers of visual and audio flourish that it’s sometimes hard to believe you’re even controlling what’s happening on your screen.
The game seems to revel in its own fiction and setting and is all the better for it. The music and visual style build on the clash of modern and rococo themes to make something that feels very unique, if completely insane. While the music does feel a little patchy in spots, there are certainly some moments in which I felt the highs of combat were accentuated by the soundtrack. In addition, it complements Bayonetta’s hyper-sexual striptease aesthetic with some upbeat jazz sounds mixed with lusty vocals.
It must be said that while the titular character is sexual and performs striptease dance moves while dispatching foes, it never feels misogynistic and Bayonetta herself is never coy at any point. Her skintight clothes are made from her own hair, which she uses as a conduit to summon demons and perform more powerful attacks. Doing so causes her to strip down as she summons more of hell’s devastation, as if to make some kind of poetic statement about female empowerment.
Bayonetta is the kind of game that’s easy to play again and again, with plenty of extra items and weapons to be found, each providing their own spin on the combat. This combined with the ability to have two sets of weapons the player can switch between on the fly, as well as most weapons being different if used on the hands or feet, there’s plenty of depth here and more than enough reason to keep coming back.
I enjoyed the first Devil May Cry and I’m glad to see Hideki Kamiya making more good games that celebrate and build upon Japanese game design. I appreciate the numerous nods to various classic Sega and Capcom games; it puts a smile on my face every time I hear that rendition of the Space Harrier theme following Bayonetta’s announcement, “Welcome to my Fantasy Zone.”