Friday, February 5, 2010

She's Got the Look


All right, I know what I said previously about passing on Bayonetta due to its supercharged sexuality, so I am here now to eat my words. If you just watch the prologue alone you’ll experience a mixture of gorgeously rendered occultism and ridiculous tongue-in-cheek sauciness-you aren’t sure whether you should be wildly impressed by the landscape or roll your eyes listening to the utter corniness of the dialogue. The first battle sequence involves some moaning, some stripping and a horrible J-Pop rendition of ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ on repeat. Seriously cringe-worthy. But after about an hour into the game (about Verse 2) everything changed (including the music, whew!). All of the va-va-voom diminished behind the storyline and it turned into an easier version of Devil May Cry, as though Dante had a witchy little sister and she wanted her own game with a more kick-ass story and less platforming. And whereas the prologue would give you the impression that the game is going to be a bit satirical, I have yet to encounter any more exchanges that would deem it so-in fact, it’s gotten fairly serious and a bit dark in some places. But Bayonetta as a character was obviously created with love-flowers grow under her feet, her shadow has butterfly wings, the moon allows her to walk on walls and she accessorizes with panache-I love the medallions on the end of her hair (clothes?). And the storyline is classic Good vs. Evil: witches, demons, angels; Heaven, Hell. Her nemesis is a Red Queen to her Black. The combat combinations seem limitless and are extremely graceful, allowing for less button mashing and more calm and intricate pattern formations (I especially like it when her hair turns into a giant whirlwind boot of kick-assery). I am only through Chapter 4’s boss fight, so I will update more next week.

So I guess I have to admit that I am a bit ashamed at my reflexive dismissal of Bayonetta. I mean, if I was built like her I imagine I would feel pretty damn confident (even through the back aches and the frustration of ill-fitting clothing). I am not usually affected by this issue in other games, but the overt sexuality in the beginning of the game was so blatant it was hard not to snicker. There are some seriously unsubtle close ups of her suggestively sucking on lollipops. This is something I imagine male gamers have accepted long ago-the disconnect between depictions of people in video games and reality. But as a modern female it is instinctual to be slightly offended by ridiculously sculpted females in video games or animation. As the line between identifying myself as a ‘female gamer’ and merely a ‘gamer’ gets delightfully more transparent, however, the distinction between what players visualize as realistic and what is obviously fantasy becomes more clear. So instead of seeing Bayonetta as a paradigm for what people think of as a version of the ideal female-sexy talk and skin tight clothing-it becomes easy to see her as the best representation of a specific character in this particular fantastical world. This philosophy freed me from any hang-ups I was having about playing the game and is now allowing me to have a great time progressing through it.

So I would love to say that Darksiders ended with a triumphant horn blowing, but it was more like a hesitant look-both-ways kind of satisfaction-as though you aren’t quite sure this is the *real* ending. *Spoiler Alert*-the Destroyer was almost comically easy to beat. I mean, the boss fight in the first dungeon was a trial compared to the final fight. In anticipation of the battle I meticulously collected the Abyssal Armor Set to protect myself, which was unnecessary. I guess after the Black Throne’s epic puzzle rooms Vigil was like, hey everyone, here’s a freebie. Overall, I thought the game was highly entertaining, a great modern version of the old Zelda style. Whispers of a sequel will most likely be confirmed for 2011.

This week’s slogan: Bayonetta, Bioshock, Dante’s Inferno, oh my!

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