Written by Murphy Simmonds
PS3/X360 (X360 version played)
Bayonetta's got guns on her feet. She also beats angels to death, wears a catsuit made from her own hair and randomly sprouts butterfly wings from her shoulders, but even without those you'd twig that she was mental. Because having guns on your feet is plainly mental.
There's a good reason for it. Bayonetta's shoe guns - together with the pair in her hands - are the gateway to the greatest 3D fighting system ever to appear on your telly screen: one button for blade attacks, one button for kicks; hammer them repeatedly in any order and glorious combos spill out with dizzying variety.
If you stop hammering and hold a button, Bayonetta pauses to shoot from hand or foot, in poses as varied as the combos themselves. Time that right and you can flit: hit, shoot, hit, shoot, dodge, hit, shoot, hit - combos fluid and unbroken but customisable at every branching step.
It's impossible to explain properly without placing a pad in your hands, but trust us, it's very, very good. Tight, gratifying, generous, gleeful and fast, pulling off the remarkable trick of layering complexity under simplicity, your play style precisely as skilled as you wish it to be. The result mixes the precision of Ninja Gaiden, the spectacle of God of War and the swagger of Devil May Cry, then flings it all into a searing hot skillet, pours in a cup of vodka and sets it on fire.
That's just the fighting. And, to be clear, this kind of game should be all about the fighting. With that in place, creator Hideki Kamiya (Devil May Cry, Viewtiful Joe) has cut loose with everything else. The design is flamboyant and eclectic, the plot ludicrously over the top, the cutscenes erratic and eccentric. The whole thing is one big car crash, which misfires and confuses so consistently that it actually becomes a style. It's a rare gift to make utter nonsense so confidently, and when that nonsense is enveloping a game whose every button press forces an Oxo cube of concentrated fun into your synapses, you cannot help but fall in lust.
Bayonetta has dramatically recalibrated the benchmark for 3D combat by being a league and a half above anything the genre has offered before. It is, quite simply, stunning.
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