Platinum Games has become a staple of the gaming world. They create fast, energetic games, and their name has become synonymous with the action genre. Bayonetta was easily the studio’s stand out title from the previous generation. Devil May Cry director Hideki Kamiya worked with his team and created a new hero that would really stand out. The series sparked a lot of debate upon release and was contested by some as a new standard. During this time, Platinum also created another game that I remember getting very little fanfare, Vanquish. Helmed by Shinji Mikami of the Resident Evil fame, he set out to create a game that he envisioned what a third person shooter should be. Vanquish reviewed quite well with critics and has a bit of a cult following, but sadly the game didn’t sell especially well.
Bayonetta continued on with an additional game and third in the works, but sadly Vanquish was not given a sequel despite very warm reception. Mikami left to found his own studio and thus this seemed to be the bookend for this series. But now, after several years passing and a console generation on its way, both games have been ported to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. I am very glad to report that both games have been given some new life, even if the resurrection does come with a couple of minor issues.
For a quick recap, here’s a brief summary of what each game is at it’s core. Bayonetta is a character action style game with a heavy focus on combos and using the powerful Witch Time ability to decimate hoards of angelic and demonic Foes. Playing as the titular witch, you make your way through some rather crazy scenarios, discover an insane balance between paradise, hell and everything in between while smashing and blasting your way in sexy style. To achieve the highest rankings, you must avoid taking damage, avoid using items, and clear stages with as many style points as you can wrack up through crazy combos and executions.
Bayonetta is a great example of having crazy lore and just as crazy set pieces that can occur because of world building. After spending about 15 hours or so with the game, I can understand why some may have thought this was the true next level for the action genre. Personally, I am not a huge fan. The game play is certainly unique and I find the world separated by the Lumen Sages and Umbra Witches, but I find the main character is incredibly frail overall and I am not totally sold on the protagonist’s style. Bayonetta is not bad by any stretch, but I just wasn’t captivated by it as I was with Vanquish.
Vanquish is a third person shooter with an emphasis on efficiency and using cover as little as possible. You play as Sam, a former football player turned Ultra-Technology tester for DARPA. When a terrorist wipes out San Francisco from orbit, Sam is tasked along with the Marine Corps to bring the terrorists to justice. While Bayonetta deals with angels, demons, and things of a more spiritual nature, Sams enemies are cold, lifeless machines with one purpose: to destroy at their creators behest. Using an array of firearms and one seriously cool suit of power armor, you’ll rocket your way through a massive space station with some of the most intense shooter segments. As you engage in waves of robotic carnage, you’ll utilize Sams suit to rocket slide, dodge, and focus fire on weak points.
Apart from managing your ammo for your weapons, you also have an overheat gauge you must be cautious of. If you suffer a near death hit, the heat gauge will begin to deplete but gives Sam ultra reflexes and a chance to get out of a bad situation. If managed properly, it’s easy to claim an advantageous position and land a critical hits. While Sam’s suit, the space station, and all of the robots are all very cool, they are not part of something that has greater meaning beyond the flash. The writing is very monotone and has a style to it, but doesn’t reach any real heights.
Lastly, I’d like to just talk about how both games perform on PlayStation 4. Both games already had great visual presentation, Bayonetta’s ancient artistry and the colder sci-fi world of Vanquish look fantastic at 1080p. Both I am very happy to report both run at a mostly solid 60 frames per second and have nearly nonexistent load times. I say mostly as I did notice a few frames dropping during certain transitions from cutscene to game play. I had a weird crash early on in Vanquish but no other major issues. The non-existent load time does cause one weird problem in Bayonetta. During the major transitions the game gives you a void space to practice your moves and combos, but because they don’t last you are there for a second or two. If you haven’t had a chance to play either of these games, I implore you to give them a try. Both are excellent in their own right and are now, for the most part, better.
Bayonetta and Vanquish Dual Review
Fast paced action cleaner than ever
The port to PC and current consoles have definitely breathed some new life into these two games. Very minor issues do not plague otherwise excellent ports!
Very smooth performance
Nearly no load times
Games still hold up very well
Weird loading through a useful feature in Bayonetta