A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bayonetta 2 is a third-person action game with an extremely sexualized, gun-wielding witch in the titular role. She clearly loves being an instrument of violence, using her fists, melee weapons such as swords, and guns (including a pair of pistols attached to her high heels) to slaughter hundreds of fantastical "angels." Severed body parts and huge sprays of crimson blood are seen frequently during battle. Bayonetta is objectified throughout the game, with the camera lingering on close-ups of her body. She frequently appears almost naked, with only shadows or wisps of hair covering her otherwise nude body -- even in the middle of battle -- and her animations seem to be based on strippers and burlesque dancers. Players also will hear extremely strong language in most dialogue sequences ("f--k," "s--t," and more) and will watch one of the main characters savor a cigar in several scenes. There's online co-op play, but there's no communication possible between players. This game is clearly meant for adult audiences only and comes with a copy of the original Bayonetta as well.
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What's it about?
Platinum Games' iconic witch returns in BAYONETTA 2, a very mature title that pushes the boundaries of sex and violence in games. The action starts with the tall, titular heroine out on a shopping trip that goes bad, resulting in an extended fight atop an out-of-control fighter jet while it careens around city skyscrapers. The fight ends with the seeming death of Bayonetta's friend, Jeanne; determined not to let her fellow witch be tormented in hell for eternity, Bayonetta embarks on a quest to reunite Jeanne's soul with her body. Action, exploration, and character growth are similar to what players experience in the original game. Bayonetta searches environments that shift and change even as she runs through them; fights imaginatively designed angels and archangels with her fists, feet, stiletto-mounted pistols, and various melee weapons; and gradually earns new techniques by collecting angelic halos (the game's currency) while scavenging ingredients to craft new items. A new online co-op mode allows a friend to join the action. The game comes with a copy of the original Bayonetta in the box.
Is it any good?
Bayonetta 2 is a brilliantly designed action experience. Easily the most visually sophisticated game yet made for Wii U, its lush and dynamic environments and intricately detailed characters rival those of action games made for much more powerful platforms. The stunningly choreographed combat is at once accessible, challenging, and deeply satisfying. Each technique is distinctive, each battle sequence memorable. As players earn more powerful abilities, the fights become even more outrageous and dazzling. Few action games can match this game's pacing, spectacle, and sheer cleverness of design.
But the genius of the action is heavily weighed down by the utter objectification of the game's heroine. Portrayed in many ways as a strong, confident, and capable woman, Bayonetta diminishes herself by acting suggestively both in and out of combat. Lingering crotch shots and frequent mid-battle nudity -- her magical hair, which she uses to clothe her body, frequently leaps from her skin to help her perform more potent attacks -- are completely gratuitous. Match this with the game's immature desire to shock players with excessive profanity (Bayonetta tells her enemies to "f--k off" so frequently in combat that it becomes numbing within minutes), and this otherwise incredible action experience descends to something seemingly designed to titillate pubescent boys searching for a taboo.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about female characters in games. Can you think of some games with women who take serious matters into their own hands without relying on others for help? Were these female characters objectified in any way?
Discuss sexuality in media. Bayonetta 2 features a hypersexualized character who also objectifies herself. Why do you think the designers chose to portray the main character in this way? What's the effect? Is this something that should be included in games, even those made for adults?
Talk about the impact of violence in media. Do you feel different watching a female character fighting as opposed to a male character? Are there any reasons why you should or shouldn't feel different?
- Platforms: Nintendo Wii U
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: October 24, 2014
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes
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