We’re reviewing the Bayonetta & Vanquish 10th Anniversary Bundle for the Playstation 4 today, combining two of the finest action games of the Xbox 360/PS3 era. Developed by Platinum Games and published by SEGA, it’s time to find out if these two stood the test of time.
Now that we’re reaching the end of this console cycle’s period (with a new Playstation and Xbox on the horizon), the one consistent thing in these past few years has been a steady flow of ‘remasters’ and ‘HD editions’. It’ll be interesting to see if that trend continues, because both new consoles have promised backwards compatibility – making the need for a re-release much smaller in my opinion. We didn’t have that when we said goodbye to the Xbox 360 and PS3 (though streaming services have somewhat changed that), which partly explains the many titles that have come back.
We hadn’t seen Platinum’s games get the remaster treatment yet though, which is a shame because they’ve put out some stellar action titles. Nier: Automata was good, but I more fondly remember the straight up action in games like Bayonetta and Vanquish, so I for one was happy to see these two bundled and get the HD treatment.
Bayonetta is a bit like Devil May Cry in how it plays, but features a witch as the central protagonist and has a very distinct visual and narrative style. Its sequel is also at the top of my list of games I wish weren’t exclusive to the Nintendo Switch, even more so than Nintendo’s own titles. It’s crazy, it’s over the top, it has attitude and the combat-focused gameplay is a lot of fun. It’s a mix of gunplay, melee and magic with a touch of brutality, which makes a surprising mix for a Nintendo exclusive but definitely gives this game an identity of its own.
The new remaster looks and feels like how I remembered it, but its visuals are being rendered at a higher resolution this time around. You also get higher framerates, but anyone who played the original release will point out it was always smooth sailing to begin with, so the leap forward isn’t too great and doesn’t warrant the purchase if you still have the game on a platform you’re actively using. If you don’t, or never played it before, then it’s a great game that’s held up well despite not feeling “current gen”.
Vanquish is much more sci-fi oriented in its premise and approach, featuring exoskeleton suits that give you special abilities. You can slow down time (for bullet time effects), but you can also do the opposite and turbo-charge your movement through the game’s levels. It all makes for an explosive mix of a game in which staying mobile is part of the game. You could say there’s echoes of the most recent Doom (as well as Gears of War) here as well, but of course Vanquish predates iD’s shooter by several years.
I think it’s safe to say that Vanquish was my favorite of the two games going into this review, and part of that is that it plays like a blockbuster action/sci-fi movie and has a silly narrative to match. The remastered version, because of Vanquish’s nature as a fast-paced action adventure, benefits greatly from the increased resolution and enhanced framerates. I never had any complaints playing the original game (on an Xbox 360), but this 10th anniversary edition is clearly superior to the original release from a technical point of view. It plays great, and can visually hold its own amidst many of today’s releases as well – which says something for a ten year old title. If I had to fault it it’d be for the fact that it’s a single player adventure only and the campaign is rather short, but it’s a thrilling time while it lasts.
It’s a shame that both of these great games weren’t packaged with any additional content like a ‘making of’ feature or some concept art, making the bundle feel more like a re-release than a celebration of two of the best action games of the last generation. Be that as it may, it’s still the best way you can play these – and that’s especially true for Vanquish.