It's probably fair to say Bayonetta's both, at varying points during the game.
Quick point on "undue attention" to moral/social/non-gameplay elements in game reviews: is it not fair to assume that if an issue is significant enough to a reviewer to spend that much time describing it, the issue will be of equal important to a significant portion of their readership? What, then, is the problem? If their style and values do not suit yours, you may be better off reading a different review of the game to inform your purchasing decisions; that is not the same as saying their review is bad, wrong or misguided.
As for characters who are sexually empowered, perhaps Steampunkette will disagree with me, but as I was thinking about this a couple of days ago one character immediately came to mind. And then refused to let me think about anyone else without addressing her first. Ahem. Yes, ma'am. >.>;
Motoko Kusanagi, aka: The Major, from Ghost in the Shell.
This is a gal who wears the body she's chosen for herself and presents it in a manner that invites attention, but she sure as fuck does not pander for that attention. She's not flashing passersby while kicking ass; she's doing her fucking job. Depending on the story/series she's a little more flashy than others (that unitard thing through most of the Stand Alone Complex series, ehhh...), but in terms of how the character presents herself, how she acts, how she relates to other characters? She's confident, she's effective, but she's not just "the man" in a woman's body. She relates to her unit in a businesslike fashion on the job, but she has a more sensitive relationship with Batou to the extent she is willing to let it go (despite his clearly wanting something more), in the comics she dates and has a side business (that is sexual objectification in its purest form in the uncensored release of the comic - more on that in a minute) and generally has a life. She's a whole character, not just a few simple characteristics slapped together.
That said? Hell yes she's sexually objectified, my god, she's literally a sex toy in that scene I mentioned above. And I do mean literally. Her friends are using her body's sensors to heighten their own stimulus input and blah blah sci-fi talk that means they're playing with her to get themselves off. In terms of empowered females in fiction, not the finest moment...which is made that much more obvious by how it contrasts with how she is the rest of the time in that book.
Other books/stories/series with Motoko portray her more/less "empowered" vs "objectified," but I'd say in at least the original book (minus that one very obvious exception) and throughout SAC (if you can get past the questionable fashion choice by the artists), that's my character to offer as a comparison vs Bayonetta's rather one-dimensional appearance as a character basically created to titillate the player.
Edit: addendum regarding the comparison of Bayo 2 vs Dragon's Crown reviews, it's worth noting that you can't avoid playing Bayonetta in Bayonetta 2, so if you have issues with her presentation, you're stuck with them the whole game. You can choose not to play the more "deformed" characters in Dragon's Crown if you don't like their art, so it isn't quite as big an issue to the game if you don't like them. For instance, I only play the Elf in Dragon's Crown because seriously the Amazon and Sorceress are just...what the fuck. I can't stand how they run. Gah. Burns my eyes.
Edit#2: from the Dragon's Crown review's comments - "The art style of Dragon’s Crown in objectively well done."
Fucking LOL forever. Who taught so many people that "objective" means "in my opinion?"