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Bayonetta

Hair to the throne...

In a world where videogames are quite often accused of exploitation, Bayonetta goes beyond titillation and into borderline pornography.

It features more crotch shots than a Paul Raymond publication, often accompanied by a teasing wink from the lady in black, Sega's latest heroine flaunts her oversized assets as she dances her way through her missions, favouring as many pelvic thrusts and split-legged moves as possible.

All that's saving Bayonetta's modesty is a skin-tight catsuit made from her hair. Fortunately for pervs, it's a costume that frequently falls right off.

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There's no doubting the market for this one. As appealing to the eyes as it is to organs lower down, this is Devil May Cry with a sultry porn starlet in place of the cheese-grater-stomach hunks. Hardly surprising given DMC's creator is in charge. He's designed a unique slant on a familiar world - one which bears a striking resemblance to Dante's universe but makes everything that's gone before seem bland and sensible by comparison.

You can blame that daft hairdo for much of that. Impracticalities aside (it must take an age to straighten) it's Bayonetta's most useful feature. Battling angels atop a clock tower as it plummets from the heavens isn't something best done in your birthday suit, believe us. A quick flick of the bonce however and that all changes. Those locks unfurl themselves and gain a life of their own. Literally.

At one point the hair morphs into a giant fist, scattering any angel unfortunate enough to stray in its path. Another example sees a Pythonesque foot crash down from the sky, crushing everything beneath with its man-sized stiletto heel. Then there's the guillotine which Bayonetta kicks angels underneath for a spot of impromptu beheading, and the iron maiden which makes Mortal Kombat's fatalities look like a civilized round of boxing.

Better yet is Bayonetta's ability to swap her sleeves for wings to hover for mid-air combos, her lightning-fast swipes with stray strands of hair and her piīce de rīsistance: whipping her thatch into a tornado which then transforms into a dragon and swallows even the largest of foes whole. These moves add previously unseen layers to the combat, meaning that Bayonetta's the most ambitiously animated character to ever grace the platform.

So the hair's a formidable weapon, but Bayonetta's a wily fox even when fully clothed. Her arsenal of guns - named Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme - lets her attack in four directions at once. Our lass is rarely static as a result, and her blammo-strapped boots are often flicking about as she balances upside down to fulfil her two tasks: killing enemies and, angling her naughty bits toward the camera for the money shot.

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Bullet Witch this isn't, despite the similar premise. Bayonetta's an acrobatic hero with equally energetic foes - the angels being her main enemies. They're the equivalent of DMC's marionettes; canon fodder for most of the adventure but able to put up a fight if encountered in large enough numbers. Then there are the others - a currently mysterious red witch who's just as powerful as Bayonetta, and a young man called Luca with wavering allegiances. But the bosses really put Bayonetta on the map.

If you happened to think DMC4's bosses were awesome, prepare to be stunned. Bayonetta's are bigger, badder and most definitely more impressive. Imagine squaring off against monsters so large they can pick up the ground you're on - say, a bridge - and hurl it across a level to take the fight to a different location.

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