Bayonetta: PS3 vs Xbox 360

I didn’t hold back in my 7/10 review of Bayonetta on Friday, because £40 is a lot of money and if you’d bought the PS3 version chances are you might have been disappointed with the technical aspects of the game and despite my affection for SEGA and the genre it’s more important to me that you’re made aware that the PS3 port is substandard and PS3 owners shouldn’t be supporting development like this.  The PlayStation version should have been delayed, if necessary, to ensure the game could be enjoyed at its best.

A quick chat with a few owners of the 360 version suggested that most of the issues surrounding the PS3 version weren’t present on the Xbox platform, and thus I got my hands on the 360 game on Saturday, and as regular readers to my Twitter feed will know, the difference is “night and day”.  It’s not even funny – it is like a completely different game and whilst Peter’s blog last night was a wide ranging look at platform exclusives, it’s worth mentioning that if you did have both HD consoles, the 360 version of Bayonetta is the way to go.

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Graphically, then, there’s no comparison.  On PS3 the game struggles to get anywhere near 30 frames a second (plus slowdown and tearing) but on the 360 the frame rate’s locked at 60.  The difference this makes is hard to overstate – the visuals might be smoother but with at least twice the frames per second you’re getting much more responsive combat, too – going back to the PS3 version after playing the 360 game for a couple of hours was shocking.  You’re seeing twice the animation frames, too, so everything’s just much slicker.

The image quality when the action is still (to my eyes) looks much the same, but when you see both side by side in motion there’s no comparison.  When you play the very first scene in the prologue on 360 it’s clear that this is how Platinum Games intended Bayonetta to be experienced, and what was a jerky indescript mess on the PS3 is a slick, stunning and powerfully visual treat on the Xbox 360.  I don’t know what went wrong aesthetically on the Sony platform, but graphically there’s only one console that shows Bayonetta off.

Loading times are much improved too.  In fact, ‘much’ is a poor choice of adjective here – there’s no wait for the game to ‘check your harddrive’ on boot, game saves are done instantly and there’s no mid level pauses whilst the game tries to load in whatever book or weapon you’ve just walked over.  Visiting The Gates of Hell for your supplies is now a treat rather than a chore, such are the actual level reload times and all this is with the game running off the 360 DVD, Heaven only knows what it’s like when installed to the harddrive.

Of course, the PS3 control destroys the 360 pad’s face buttons when it comes to games like this, and bashing away at the Xbox controller made my hands ache far quicker than I’d imagine – the Dual Shock 3 was created for games like Bayonetta and it shows, so if SEGA can patch the substandard graphics and terrible loading the PS3 version will be the version of choice, but as it stands just now the 360 version is so much better it’s rather embarassing to know that I paid £50 for the PlayStation version last week.

Will we be doing a re-review?  Probably not.  I might now be able to play Bayonetta as the developers intended and not have to wrestle with load times and all the other issues the PS3 version had, but the core game is still the same, and I still maintain that Devil May Cry and God Of War offer up the edge in terms of gameplay, but now I can dodge and chop at the game’s full speed there’s certainly much more reason to pick up Bayonetta.  If you’re desperate for a score to add to the comparison, you can at least boost that 7 to an 8.

Bayonetta might still not be the earth shatteringly awesome game it could have been, but on 360 it’s one hell of an improvement.  Anyone want to buy my PS3 version?

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