Bayonetta is an Umbra Witch who's been dragged back to life from an underwater tomb. She takes up arms against the Lumen Sages, who worship light and have the forces of heaven on their side. Both sides are after the Eyes of the World, a pair of gems that, when combined, will reawaken the Creator and usher in a brave new universe.
The story is told largely through cut scenes, which will try the patience of players who want to get back into the action.
Once you do take control of the witch, you'll enjoy one of the most versatile combat systems ever devised. Bayonetta is a remarkably acrobatic heroine, gracefully wielding whips, blades and firearms in a fast-moving blizzard of action. She has pistols strapped to her feet, so you can mix katana slashes with gunfire to produce ever-escalating combos of damage.
Bring enough pain and you can unleash a torture attack, thrusting your opponent into an iron maiden or a guillotine. And boss battles are wrapped up with climax attacks, in which Bayonetta's hair (really) turns into a beast-chomping demon.
Those boss battles are where you'll see the most bizarre creatures from director Hideki Kamiya's fevered imagination. They combine iconography from Eastern and Western religions alike: One boss, for example, is a two-headed dragon with an upside-down cherub's head for a body. - AP
RATING M for Mature
INFO Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, $5
BOTTOM LINE Flamboyant but shallow