It’s 2010, and while most gaming sites rang in the year fondly remembering the best games of last year, Sega and Platinum games decided to drag us all the way back to 2007 by releasing a game that is more than noticeably superior on one console. It’s a sad heritage that the Playstation 3 carries, that it was once the home of the inferior versions of multiplatform games (we’ll put the Wii aside for now, since it is a distinctly different console experience), but 2009 was a year that, more than any other year, showed that this was all in the past. Batman: Arkham Asylum, Borderlands, Modern Warfare 2 and Assassin’s Creed II, arguably the four biggest multiplatform games of the year, all performed equally well on both platforms.
I was so convinced by this, that when I played the Bayonetta demo back in September, I made a point of noting that it did not, in fact, suffer from grievous performance issues. As it turns out, the demo has made a fool out of me. Going over the reviews for Bayonetta by popular gaming websites, it is unanimous among critics that Playstation 3 owners are getting the short end of the stick, in some pretty unforgivable ways.
Giant Bomb’s Ryan Davis devoted a paragraph of his review to disclaiming his positive words when it came to the PS3 version, saying:
Unfortunately, most of the kind words I have for Bayonetta are reserved for the Xbox 360 version, as the PlayStation 3 version suffers from crippling performance issues. Load times are bad, even popping up when you’re simply cycling through options on your inventory menus, but what really kills it is the way the game stutters and chops through the action, dropping frames and bogging down at an almost constant rate. In another, significantly less intense game, it’s something I might be able to let slide. But Bayonetta’s gameplay, and even its cinematics, put such a premium on speed and precision that the experience on the PlayStation 3 is thoroughly compromised. Let me be totally clear here: if you have the option between the two consoles, consider the PlayStation 3 version to be nonexistent. If the PS3 is your only option, well, proceed with significant caution, or hitch your hopes on the notion that Sega might, someday, release a patch to address these issues.
In the official Gamespot review, Lark Anderson had more or less the same things to say, (including eerily similar phrasing):
Unfortunately, as entertaining as the stylish action combat of Bayonetta is, it’s plagued by a number of technical issues on the PS3 that distract and spoil some of the fun. Not only are the visuals grainier and more washed out than in its Xbox 360 counterpart, but there are also noticeable frame rate dips that occur when the action gets too heavy. Most commonplace, however, are the frequent, excessively long load times. While the loads between levels are partially mitigated by the useful practice mode, it can only cover up so much and doesn’t do anything at all to help all of the other loads. You’re met with an immersion-breaking, several seconds long loading screen every single time you want to pause the action, access your inventory or switch between submenus there, save or load your game, or pick up a new item. All together, these problems notably affect your enjoyment, and in a game where high-energy combat is king, these are pretty significant.
Other sites echo these sentiments, and Destructoid opted not to even review the PS3 version, making the implication that it wasn’t even worth considering a purchase on the platform
The point of this story is not to reiterate what the reviews have said, however, it is to lay blame where blame is due. Platinum Games, a company made up of people whom I personally have a lot of respect for, basically gave the middle finger to PS3 owners by refusing to work on their own game on the platform, despite the fact that publisher Sega clearly wanted it to be a multiplatform release. Like Valve, they are willing to lose sales and have poorly made versions of their work, because they don’t care enough to learn how to program for the PS3. It’s lazy, it’s insulting, and if they really cared about their own artform, they would never have let this happen.
The Playstation 3 is capable of matching the Xbox 360 on a technical level. Gamespot’s undying series of graphical comparisons between the two consoles has shown how minute the differences between games has become when the developers make an effort. Neither Sega nor Platinum games should have ever let Bayonetta be released on PS3 in this state.
Bayonetta was released for Xbox 360 and PS3 on January 5th, 2010.