Review by KungFuPhil
"No More Heroes Puts the 'AAA' in AAAH! MY SPLEEN!"
No More Heroes, one man's quest to become the #1 assassin to impress the love of his life. This game was made by Suda51, famed for Killer7. No More Heroes features an intense fast-paced combat system, stylistic graphics, impressive controls, amazing storytelling, and a maturity rating that seemed to pass Jack Thompson's eye. All of these qualities have been lacking in the Wii, but No More Heroes nailed all of these points and earned its way into the AAA league alongside Super Mario Galaxy.
Graphics - 8/10
This game looks pretty good. Everything is stylized in a cellshading fashion with a huge emphasis on black and the darker colours. The character models looks fairly good overall. The enemy models lack diversity, but the boss models are done especially well. The animation is fluid and looks flawless.
Of course, it didn't get a full 10, so there must be some problems. The Free-Roam map, in general, looks bad. Just plain bad. The NPCs walking the streets, although there are only a few you'll see, look horrible. The car models are plain bad as well. Sometimes I even see greyed out police cars because the textures didn't load on the car. Though, despite these flaws, there are some redeming features in the map including a diversity of land, such as a housing area, empty wastelands, and even a baseball stadium.
There also isn't so much detail. I noticed that the shadows are pretty bad and that walking into the shade doesn't make your character any darker like it should. Travis will always look the same, no matter what light is hitting him. Its a little disappointing they did not add that, but it is only a small detail.
Story - 9/10
Right from the beginning you know your main objective: to become the #1 assassin, and the objective never really changes. So, how did this receive such a high score? The way the story is dealt will keep you sucked in. There are two cutscenes every boss fight, one before and another after. You learn a little about each of these bosses in these fights, and this is where Suda51's characters shine. You get to see how demented all of the assassins are, including Travis. There are a few twists in the story that are nearly impossible to predict, making literally gasp once you figure everything out. The story is also halerious and makes fun of American Pop Culture. There are nods to the following franchises: Star Wars, Back to the Future, and Duke Nuke'em, only to name a few of the pop culture references.
Sadly, there isn't too much character development for Travis. Playing as Travis really confused me, in some of the cutscenes he displayed acts that was really out of character. He can be brutally violent, merciful, or just out-front nice at unexpected times. I wanted to know more about what Travis really thinks and what he's going through, but these topics never really hit.
Gameplay - 9/10
One word: Wow. The gameplay is frantic, fast,simple and easily approachable. Never does the fighting get boring and finishing the enemies is a blast every time. You will be fighting hundreds of enemies and the action never dies down during the missions.
As boring as his may sound, it can get more complicated, but the basic fighting consists of Locking onto a Target with the 'Z' button, then pressing the 'A' button to attack with your Beam Katana or you can press 'B' to do a Stun attack. Whenever you have 'Z' pressed down, you block automatically. Both 'A' and 'B 'can be held down for charged versions of the attack dealing more damage or having a greater chance to stun the opponent, respectfully. The Wii Remote is used to tell at which height you are attacking your opponent, either high or low depending on how the Wii Remote is tilted. The Remote is also used for finishing attacks, whether its a wrestling move or a Beam Katana finisher depends on if you grappled a stunned opponent or if you sliced your way through the enemy's health. All you have to do with these finishers is do the motion the screen tells you to do. All of the fighting is stylistic, the finishers being the most satisfying of all. Despite how monotone all of this may sound, there are some more complex techniques such as Emergency Dodge, Jump Attack, and Countering.
Along with the basic fighting, you have an opportunity to gain a power-up. If you finish off an opponent with a Beam Katana slice, then you are rewarded with Slot Machine. If the slot lands on triple-anything then you'll gain a power-up. These power-ups slowing down time, changing into Darkside Travis, shooting power-blast out of your Beam Katana or a massive blast that destroys everything on the screen. These power-ups feel refreshing when you get them, as they do not happen too often.
There are a few flaws with the battle system though. You can, in fact, press 'A' over and over again and gesture for the finisher for most enemies. The gameplay still does not get boring with this, but it is a gameplay flaw. Another annoyance is the camera. Changing the camera angle as you fight is pretty dangerous, you can press 'C' to center the screen, but sometimes you actually need the camera to be at a specific angle to see everything and to turn the camera is to use the Wii Remote's control pad, which is nearly impossible to do while you are fighting. These flaws are not that devastating in all reality, the fun is still present and the camera angle is a problem when in small corridors.
There is a second major gameplay function, as well. After you complete your first mission you are allowed to enter a Free-Roam city. Now, this city was poorly constructed, the hit detection is awful, the graphics in this large area are pretty bad, the car and NPC models are hideous, the framerate is random and the amount of interactivity is close to zero. Thankfully the map was only designed to get from place to place, but that doesn't stop it from being a bad design decision. There are Tee shirts and treasures scattered across the land, which is nice, but still doesn't save it from its flaws. Because this is not supposed to be a major part of the game, I did not bring the score down too much, but I did for one point.
Presentation - 9/10
Much like Killer7, this game features some amazing presentation. The graphics are stylized and over dramatic. All of the characters in the game have some spark of oddity in them that brings a common feature in the game. The menu, map, and on-screen gestures are all presented in 8-Bit pixels. Which is a great look in theory, but have a few problems practically, which will be mentioned later. The cutscenes are presented in a cinematic way and the voices are all great. The game, as a package, is one of the most stylistic games in years.
As mentioned, there is a problem with the 8-Bit pixel-style. When you are on the Free-Roam map, your map is pixilated. The colours they used for this map are proper green along ith different tints of green. On the map there may be some dots that are white or dots that are yellow, these dots are hard to see on such a brightly coloured map. The yellow and white easily blends in with the green. This can cause an annoyance when you are collecting treasures scattered along the Free-Roam map.
Music/Sound - 10/10
This really belongs in the presentation, but the music and sound was so sublime it needed to be in a section of its own. The sound made good use of the Wii Remote, whether it be used for telephone calls or hearing the beam go 'shweoo' every time you swing it, its just amazing. The music is very punk. Although there are some techno and country music, the overall feel is punk.
Replay - 7/10
This game will take about 10-15 hours to complete, depending on how is spent on searching for items, doing extra missions, and buying upgrades. This game does feature a New Game+, where you can then complete a game in a new difficulty. In this difficulty you can collect another 150 cards which are all concept art, thats a lot of art. The items you can collect will take you a long time, getting a gold metal in all the missions will also take you a good amount of time, there are also two endings, and an extra boss.
Overall - 8.8/10 (score not based on an average)
I rounded down for the fact of possible bias. This game was amazing and I had an amazing time with it. If you are on the fence about this game, its worth it. A 3rd party developer made a game Wii players were hungry for: a good, mature, action game and they should be rewarded for it. This game is a real AAA game for the Wii and there needs to be more attention about this game. Hopefully this game will get enough sells so that Suda51 will continue this series as a trilogy like he wants to. There is only one more thing to sa-AAAHHH! MY SPLEEN!
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/28/08
Game Release: No More Heroes (US, 01/22/08)
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