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Bayonetta 2 arrived in North America and Europe on Friday. The reviews suggest that Wii U gamers will be very happy with their new exclusive.
The game's 59 reviews on Metacritic have an average score of 91. That makes Bayonetta 2 the best-reviewed game of 2014 so far for Wii U, beating out other critical darlings like Mario Kart 8 and Shovel Knight. It also has the third-best Metacritic of all-time for Wii U games. Only Super Mario 3D World and Rayman Legends are ahead of it.
This is all far from scientific. Metacritic, after all, weights each publication's review score differently and doesn't publicly share that weighting. The site's far from an objective tool to weigh one game against another. Still, the general point stands: people really like Bayonetta 2.
The best part of the first Bayonetta was its frantic, combo-based combat and that seems to be true of its sequel as well. Many critics characterized the combat as hard-to-master but also accessible to newcomers. The deep collection of unlocks give players plenty of incentive to push themselves to do better. The Witch Trials throughout the campaign help players improve their skills.
It's hard to find many big criticisms of the game. There's some grumbling about whether it's enough of an improvement over the original game - a (valid) concern that dogs most sequels. The demons vs. angels storyline continued from the first game is still hard to follow, according to reviewers. Bayonetta as a character gets a mixed reaction as well. The debate about her centers on whether she's a strong female lead who owns her sexuality or she's just some pin-up girl to be ogled by players. There were plenty of critics who didn't seem to care either way, though.
For further reading, here are a few excerpts from reviews throughout the web:
"Don't judge a book by its cover. It's easy to dismiss Bayonetta 2, given that the main character frequently gets fetishized throughout the entirety of the story. There aren't just puns in the dialogue, but you can often find Bayonetta shedding her hair, posing provocatively, or even pole dancing in certain instances. It's very easy to not take this product seriously, in light of all that." - Shack News
"Bayonetta herself is in control of the camera. Like Orson Welles, she both acts and directs. The camera contorts itself to follow Bayonetta’s acrobatic lead; she winks at it, blows it kisses. She toys with it. She dominates; it submits. Indeed, the game is dominated by women: men appear as buffoons, massive pallid dogma-spewing seraphim, or annoying sidekicks. Perhaps for the first time, we have a female character who consents to, and sketches the boundaries of, her sexualization." - Kill Screen
"Bayonetta 2 is sheer class. Yes, it takes a little too long to get going, given its length, but the final four hours are relentlessly, breathlessly exceptional. Granted, it's all just 'more of the same' with a shorter haircut, but we're talking about more of one of the best games ever made. And seeing as the Special Edition of Bayonetta 2 comes with a Wii U conversion of that gorgeous original, Nintendo certainly has the ultimate Bayonetta experience in its portfolio. And that's something it should boast about as loudly as possible." - Games Radar
"Unfortunately, cutscenes, which combine traditional cinematics with a series of stills, are far too frequent and time consuming, which does have a jarring effect on the action. It can feel like a bit of a stop-start affair, although with so many intense boss battles, it can be argued that cutscenes slow things down and provide a sense of pace and balance, although we would have rather spent the time exploring." - Digital Spy
"I don’t know what kind of maniac plays Bayonetta for the story, but the sequel is just as incoherent as it was the first time around. There’s a lot of talk about Umbra witches and ancient gods and time travel and other confusing nonsense, but it’s all just a silly, fun excuse for Bayonetta to kill a bunch of weird creatures in increasingly crazy ways. If you were a fan of the unexpected detours the first game made (the out-of-nowhereSpace Harrier tribute, for example), you'll love the situations seen in the sequel. The narrative shuttles Bayonetta everywhere from traditional city streets to the outer reaches of time and space, and you'll never know where the next mission will take you or what familiar faces you'll see there." - Giant Bomb
"Bayonetta 2’s campaign gets within touching distance of the original’s sheer imagination, but its structure is far superior – Bayonetta’s biggest problem was that it didn’t offer experienced players a way to simply enjoy the combat system outside of story mode. This means it’s extraordinarily difficult to choose between the two titles but, as luck would have it, the definitive version of Bayonetta is included in the sequel’s special edition. That particular purchase is probably the greatest action game package in history." - The Guardian