Friday, July 30, 2010

Bayonetta Sucks, Monday Night Combat Doesn't, and a Comics Revue  

Games: Started Bayonetta the other night as part of my gargantuan "catch-up" process, and in retrospect, I think it was a good choice. I couldn't stand playing it, so I got to kick it off my list after only three hours or so. Done!

Seriously though, this is one of the most ridiculously over-rated games of 2010. The number of perfect scores it received is absurd, and I would call into question the thought process and value system of anyone who gave it a ten.

On the good side, the graphics are pretty eye-popping, the combat system has a lot of interesting bits to it, and the whole guns-on-feet thing was gold.

On the other hand, it has some of the most wretched storytelling I've ever seen in a title. The bizarre dichotomy between super-serious cutscenes and insanely-over-the-top-goofy during play doesn't work at all, with each side canceling out the energy of the other. I'm usually one who gets a great deal out of story and cutscenes, but they were verging on painful here -- awkward, long, senseless, and adding nothing to the experience.

As for the rest, there was entirely too much going on during play to be able to see what was happening clearly -- the definition of visual chaos. The mission structure was pure Devil May Cry, and the rest was GodHand, except not nearly as cohesive or as well-done as either. The whole thing felt like some kind of arch in-joke the developers were having at my expense, and the combat system wasn't so entertaining that I was about to sit through who knows how many hours of it before the end.

Unpleasantly atavistic, intentionally obtuse, and displaying poor sensibility in nearly every aspect, Bayonetta has been ejected from my 360 in unceremonious fashion, and it won’t be back.


Games: Spent a few hours with the good fellows at Uber Entertainment today. They were gracious enough to invite me over for a good look at their upcoming XBLA title, Monday Night Combat, and show it to me they did.

I'll be talking about it on the podcast this weekend and I'll have a proper interview up shortly, but for right now I can say that MNC is looking like a very impressive title, and one that was certainly deserving of its spot in this year's Summer of Arcade lineup.

Although many people have dismissed it as a Team Fortress 2 wannabe, the similarities are only vaguely cosmetic. After actually having a hands-on, the gameplay was much deeper and entirely different than I was expecting it to be.

In a nutshell, each team of players is trying to destroy the “money ball” of the opposition. This is done by guarding a stream of robots that emerges from each end of the playing field. When enough robots hit the money ball, it's destroyed and the game is over. Teamwork is key, and the mix of character types means that players have several different strategies to choose from. For example, I started as the Assault player and waded into things as if I was playing a standard shooter, but that didn't last long. At all. Switching over to a Tank character, I found that his particular build suited my tendencies better, and I began to see the ebb and flow of the action. It's a much more structured and complex style of game than most people are going to expect.

(Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I do think it needs to be said that the Uber team pretty much wiped the floor with me from start to finish. They took it easy on me for about the first 30 seconds of the first match, and then after that I spent a lot of time as chunks on the ground. Still, it was quite fun.)

For more info on Monday Night Combat, check out the Uber Entertainment website, and definitely watch the videos while you’re there.

More to come.


Comics: I haven't talked about comics in a while, but I hit my to-read stack the other day and it was certainly time well spent.

Whatever Happened to Baron von Shock? – Image

Written by Rob Zombie (yes, that Rob Zombie) this is an extremely interesting book that chronicles the rise and fall of a local TV horror-show host. Imagine someone like Elvira (only male) and you've got the right idea. It's rude, crude, and talks about the excess that comes along with instant stardom. I have to wonder how much of it is taken from Zombie’s own life. I'm guessing probably a lot.

Wormwood: the Last Battle – Avatar

Garth Ennis continues his tale of the antichrist and the son of God hanging out in a bar, talking about life and its various difficulties. In this issue (#4) main character Wormwood talks his girlfriend out of getting an abortion and a pope in hell kidnaps a talking rabbit through a laptop. Don't ask me to try and explain it, just trust me… it's good.

The Last Zombie – Antarctic Press

I'm a bigtime Brian Keene fan. Love his writing, and can't get enough of his books. Love following the guy on Twitter – he’s goddamn hilarious. This book is (obviously) a new entry into the zombie genre he helped kickstart, and while I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt for a few more issues, I have to say I'm a little disappointed in it. It's a very slow beginning and I really don't like the artist at all. Visuals are drab and murky, and the lettering is annoying. Not the best first issue, but like I said, I’m a Keene fan. Not going to jump ship quite yet.

Hit Monkey – Marvel

I don't read a lot of Marvel books these days, but how can I possibly resist something with a title like that? All I would've needed to make me happy was panel after panel of primates with guns, and I got that -- sort of. There is some kind of bizarre tangent about a ghost who wants revenge going on here, and I really can't say that it's doing much for me. Even so, monkey with a gun. It's hard to top that.

The Sixth Gun – Oni Press

I love Fantasy and Horror, and I love Westerns. I double-love Fantasy Horror Westerns. Or is that triple? Whatever. Either way, this book seems like a real winner. Only two issues have come out so far, but the plot about a supernatural gun, a gang of undead desperados, a fortune-telling spirit tree and the people who are mixed up with them is a real page-turner. Something about the combination of magic and the old West really turns my crank, and if it does for you too, but you'd be well-advised to look into this one.

Bigtime diggin’ it.

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4 comments: to “ Bayonetta Sucks, Monday Night Combat Doesn't, and a Comics Revue

  • Anonymous


    Finally! Someone else out there thinks that Bayonetta is a total waste of time. I've been disgusted by all the hyperbolic praise heaped on this subaverage pile. It's gratifying to find others who can dismiss the hype and see the game for what it is. The fact that it's going to end up on a lot of best-of lists is kind of mind-blowing and a little worrisome.


    I'll be curious to see how many people...

    A> remember it by December


    B> still think it's good now that the hype has had time to cool off.

    I bet a lot of those folks who gave it high scores might be reconsidering...


    Brad, Brad, Brad... stop being wrong about stuff.

    j/k. Though for what it's worth, I really liked Bayonetta. The storytelling is admittedly rather poor, though I found it not quite as bad as you as I never thought it was aiming to be sincere. I thought the whole thing (gameplay and cutscenes) were aiming for camp and it was tonally consistent. Poor pacing and terrible dialogue were the main offenders. Especially disappointing as Kamiya's previous game, Okami, had some really excellent writing and strong characters. But that's a whole 'nother story.

    I also didn't have the same problem as you re: the visuals. I felt like it had a very responsive camera and was could generally tell what was going on jut fine. Ultimately, I found the combat system and enemy designs to be fantastic and that's pretty much all the game is, thus I found it a very satisfying experience overall.

    I would say I liked DMC4 maybe a tad better for reasons that may seem totally nitpicky to some. Mostly that Bayonetta's frequent checkpoints that respawn you with full health made even the hardest difficulty too easy. That, and the scoring system is borked, making it so one mess-up on a scripted QTE will result in an insta kill ruining your score for the full level. It's by no means perfect and not a 10, but I do not regret my three playthroughs of it from Jan.


    Hey MDP.

    If the story was basically what we got during the play sections, I'd agree that camp is what the developers were shooting for. However, things shifted so far towards the other side of the spectrum during cutscenes that I just couldn't make any sense of it. Over-the-top, wink wink, and partially naked on the one hand, and then tons of flashbacks, melodrama and painfully stiff writing on the other. To me, it was almost as though there were two separate teams working on the game, and neither one was talking to the other.

    As far as the visuals go, it wasn't the camera so much as it was all of the clutter on-screen. At certain times it would be fine, but then that others I could hardly tell what was going on with all the explosions and enemies and everything else. There were stretches when I really felt like I was on top of things, but in other areas it felt just like mashing to me. Granted, part of that is squarely on my own shoulders, but on the other hand, I was never immersed enough or interested enough to fully come to grips with what the game was presenting.

    (And *three* playthroughs? My God, how did you do it? I couldn't even sit through one.)

    ; D