Thursday, February 4, 2010

Quick Thought - Bayonetta

Bayonetta is the best action game this year, Period. Yes I realize I'm saying this when God of War 3 is on the cusp of release. Yes, I realize the year just started.

But my definition of what makes a great action game, and an epic action game what they are are two different things.

While there isn't any doubt in my mind that God of War will be an epic spectacle, a graphical and aural marvel with some of the most cinematic and downright visceral moments in gaming coupled with a stellar storyline, these are all bullet points.


On its merits as an infinitely playable action game, I don't think it'll top Bayonetta.

Bayonetta is fun, fast, gorgeous and has unprecedented depth. It's as much a celebration of action games as it is gaming in general, refuses to take itself too seriously, and in terms of creativity and completely off-the-wall game design, I've never played ANYTHING like it.

It has a very endearing, self-referential arcade game quality to it that makes it addictive, and the sheer number of weapons and combat situations, coupled with some of the most over the top setpieces I've ever seen, ensure there's a reason to play it over and over, discovering something new nearly every time. No really. When your character's potential moveset has enough depth to rival that of a Virtua Fighter character, something special is going on there.

God of War cannot claim this. As polished as its combat engine is, it's still an intensely cinematic game that's meant to be experienced, not replayed like a traditional game. When it's over, it's over, and there will be stories, but revisiting is just smoothing over familiar territory. A replay of God of War is nostalgic at best.

Replaying Bayonetta is peeling back layers. I've gone through the game twice, have replayed countless missions and boss fights, and I'm STILL finding out new things, still having as much fun as I had the first go-around.

Similar to what Rockstar did with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in reminding everyone in the industry exactly who the master of the open-world genre was, Hideki Kamiya and Platinum Games just stepped in and reminded everyone exactly who redefined the action genre in 2001 in the first place.

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