No More Heroes

February 3, 2008 at 3:04 pm Leave a comment

“Will you do it with me?”

That’s what Travis Touchdown asks the sultry Sylvia Christel after the first match, a request to reward him if he attains the Number 1 spot in the United Assassins Association. And that sets the stage for the rest of No More Heroes, Suda-51 and Grasshopper Manufacture‘s latest action title.

The bulk of NMH is made up of going from match to match in your quest to be the world’s best assassin. Interspersed between the bouts are side jobs meant to earn money for new clothes, new matches, and other things. These side jobs range from collecting coconuts to mowing lawns, and as strange as that sounds, it is pretty comical to see your bad-ass punk rocker wannabe protagonist run around punching trees and collecting coconuts.

The matches between Travis and the various assassins are all set up pretty much the same. You enter an area, like a building or a stadium, mow down wave after wave of henchman, then fight the boss. Wash, rinse, repeat. Combat revolves around your ‘beam katana’, like a lightsaber, only not. You press the ‘A’ button for basic attacks, but depending on how you hold the Wiimote, you can change what type of attack you do. For example, holding the Wiimote upright will put Travis in the high stance, which can be used for a very powerful charge attack or attacking enemies that are defending low. The low stance has a charge attack that can hit multiple enemies and can hit opponents guarding high. There are also various wrestling moves which can be done after dazing an enemy by pressing ‘B’, which works as long as the enemy isn’t blocking. There are also finishing moves that you can do after completing a combo of ‘A’ button presses, and these moves are executed by a quick swipe of the Wiimote in the appropriate direction.

Occasionally you’ll run into a small mini-game when fighting your way through the hordes of henchman. In the second match, you go through a stadium, fighting baseball-themed bad guys. In one hallway, there are several of them lined up in a neat row. The one closest to you pitches a baseball and you must swing your Wiimote Wii Sports style to knock the ball back at them. Hit it hard enough and a single ball can go through all the bad guys at once, causing a shower of blood and coins.

Speaking of the gore, the makers of the game claim that NMH will be more violent that even the notorious Manhunt 2. Well, it is and it isn’t. No More Heroes has gallons upon gallons of blood: heads get severed, torsos are split in half, and bodies get disemboweled. But the thing is, it’s all very cartoony and not serious in the least bit. Manhunt 2 attempts to look serious, and despite blood spewing all over the place, Manhunt 2‘s gritty realism and dark tone feel more violent than Suda-51’s game.

Speaking of the ‘feel’, NMH feels straight out of a Japanese manga or anime. The characters are all a collection of goofballs that like to kill people, like the bottom-of-the-barrel left-overs from a Metal Gear game. The load screens are basically your television screen getting plastered with what looks like some weird graphic design student’s class project. Travis has some crazy obsession with wrestling, more specifically Mexican luchadors and collects their masks and trading cards throughout the game. To top it all off, when you save the game, you’re basically dropping a load into a toilet.

The major downsides to this game are the camera, which feels a bit too loose at times, and I wish it could stay behind you more consistently. The combat, while effective, makes me wish that they just went ahead and ripped off Twilight Princess. I found myself swiping the Wiimote around instead of hitting ‘A’ all the time to swing my weapon. For the slow-motion finishing moves, maybe you could hold ‘A’ while swiping left, right, up, or down. And occasionally the gesture-based wrestling moves don’t respond, but I don’t really do the wrestling moves that much anyway. There’s also the recharging of the beam katana; every so often your weapon will run dry, forcing you to retreat from the action and shake the controller to charge it. In conjunction, Travis will shake his beam katana like he’s masturbating. It was funny the first couple of times, but annoying the rest of the game. NMH also has the occasional fps drop, but nothing that makes the game unplayable.

Also, the town where this all takes place in, Santa Destroy, California, feels empty. There are people walking the streets and cars going by, but the game doesn’t really do much with them. The excellent, and overlooked, Godfather: Black Hand Edition did a nice job of making New York City feel alive thanks to some car chases and more realistic-behaving traffic. For the sequel (if they make one), I’d like to see some vehicle combat since you have an awesome-looking bike but you just drive around in it.  Also, some 1-1 sword swinging action would be cool (if not 1-1, I’ll settle for just swiping my Wiimote around). And the combat, overall, could be more like a Devil May Cry, with some sick-looking combos being pulled of against dozens of enemies at once.

Overall, No More Heroes is a fun and visually intense game. It just oozes with it’s own unique style, it’s not trying to be a GTA or a God of War. There are some issues with the game that keep it far from perfect, but if you’re into hack-and-slash beat-em-up’s, you won’t find many (good) ones on the Wii. A nice addition for mature gamers.

8.0/10

(images from 1up.com, and tv.com)

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Entry filed under: Video Games. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

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