Review by Nilanyas
"No More Heroes is one interesting ride... But is it worth it?"
The story of No More Heroes is indeed an interesting romp. The style is there. Anyone who is familiar with this studios last game Killer 7 will be right at home. Without going into too many spoilers in this game you play as Travis Touchdown. Travis is an otaku or rather someone with an obsessive interest in anime. He is lazy, mean spirited, hateful, and basically just loves killing for killings sake. This is no hero's story, as per the title. Travis' mission in life is to hunt down and kill the 10 Assassins ranked above him in order to reach rank 1. This tale of a sadistic killing machine on a rampage to garner the #1 assassin title will take you down a pretty bloody road. While you won't find anyone to relate to or admire in this game you might just find Travis touchdown to be a pretty funny guy, despite the killing. For the most part the story of No More Heroes is interesting if albeit a bit over the top. But there are enough laughs and idiosyncrasies to keep you playing till the end.
I am not one to let Wii off easy for its graphics. I try not to use the saying look great for a wii game. I think this is an insult to the Wii and an easy reprieve for the developer. While the Wii can't hope to match the power of its competitors systems that does not mean it is a slouch. Games like Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime are proof the Wii is not a distant third but rather just a tad behind the other systems. With the right graphical style and a dedication to the platform it has already been shown breathtaking graphics can indeed appear on Wii. The problem with No More Heroes is mostly on the technical side. There are slow down and frame rate issues all over the game. These issues do not make it unplayable, but they are there. On top of these slight technical issues there is also the real lack of any art design. While the characters themselves look great, the environments are pretty drab. The main hub city Santa Destroy looks very pale and bland. And the levels for each assassination themselves boil down to long hallways with not much texturing. The style is there but it is not utilized well for the environments.
While the controls are passable do not expect anything amazing. If you are use to higher caliber action games such as God of War, Ninja Gaiden, or Devil May Cry you will be disappointed. Your main attack is controlled by mashing the A button, with kick/throws being controlled by the B button. The position of the wiimote also effects your A button attacks in unique way. Holding the wiimote up will put you in a high stance and pointing it down will put you in a low stance. The game give you some variety in what is generally just button smashing. The motion controls here are actually pretty decent. While it does boil down to mostly waggle, you can get into the groove and start to really feel like you are chopping guys in half through use of your finishers which are directly controlled by your wiimote waggle. Its not very advanced but it is visceral and fun, and isn't that what counts? It doesn't force waggle on you in an annoying way and for that it gets points. The controls for Travis in the city however are not very good. An example of one of the missions shows how the city controls were not given much time. One of the missions has you picking up trash. This is done by walking over to the trash and pressing A then waggling the wiimote. The problem here is two things will start to happen. First you will sometimes kick the trash away because of Travis's awkward movement and second you will sometimes start doing a punch/kick combo when you meant to pick up trash. It can really make these mini games a hassle and an annoyance. The single worse part of the controls however has to be the dodge mechanic. This is controlled by locking on with Z and pressing Left, Right, or Back on the D-Pad. While in theory this could work it falls apart in practice. The lockon function has a limited range so sometimes you will roll backwards to avoid an attack but the lockon will break. This will send Travis rolling to his enemy right into the attack you were trying to avoid. Also roll becomes a completely defensive maneuver when you realize the limitations of which way you can roll. Since your rolls are digital (here meaning only 3 directions) you can't really roll into an attack. Mostly its just a quick way to get out of an attack. Then you must run back to the enemy and start attacking. It's a very lacking mechanic and really hinders Travis ability to fight. Especially large numbers of enemies that block a lot.
Game Play: 5/10
This is where the game falters. While the assassination missions are fun they suffer from repetition. Every mission, except for a few plot twists, have you running down hallway after hallway killing hordes of fodder enemies to reach a boss. When you get to the boss a cut scene plays. The boss shows its interesting/quirky personality and then the fight starts. Now while all the bosses have different attacks all the fights generally play out the same way. You can't just attack the boss because he will block you repeatedly. What you are forced to do is wait for the boss to attack. After its done a combo it will stagger for a frame or two. This is your chance to run up and hit the boss a few times and then back off. Now if this were faster paced it might have been a bit more enjoyable. The big problem here is every boss has ungodly amounts of hit points. So this wait for an opening, attack for couple % of damage, roll away, and repeat gets VERY old very fast. There is one fight in particular where if you take the wrong weapon it could take you almost an hour to whittle down the boss. The style is there but like the rest of the game, the substance is missing. This brings us to the worst part of the game. The over world city Santa Destroy is a very bland place. But you will be spending 45% of the game here. Between every mission you must work to make enough money to get into the next mission. You have 3 choices in how to make money. Odd jobs like the previously mentioned garbage cleanup, assassination missions, and world challenges. While the odd jobs are funny the first time, having to repeat them to make money would be a huge chore. The assassination missions themselves, like the odd jobs, are interesting the first time, but you will find yourself having to chore your way through them over and over to save up money for equipment and to unlock the next mission. The world challenges are the worst part here. They are all the same. They ask you to kill hordes of enemies without taking damage. But because of the poor control mechanics in combat this becomes a headache. You will find yourself cheesed quite a bit and having to restart the mission over. And this is where you find the single worst omission from this game. The lack of a retry option if you fail any of these missions they disappear and you are forced to return to the assassins bureau in order for them to reappear. That means one mistake and you have to trek back through the city, get the mission again, return to the mission, and hope you don't fail again. This can cause quite a headache for anyone trying to enjoy the game. Especially when you fail missions not because of your skill but because of the lacking controls.
Replay Value: A higher difficulty. But it just adds more hit points to enemies which just makes it more of a grind/chore to get through the game. The fight mechanics while entertaining in there gore, just do not scream play me again because they are so simple yet so awkward. This is especially apparent when you are surrounded by 4-5 guys which no real way to engage them properly.
While No More Heroes has STYLE it lacks what is important: Substance. It's a good effort and its nice to see a developer try to make something other than a mini game compilation. However, just because you try does not mean you will succeed.
Recommendations: I would recommend renting it. It can easily be beaten in a couple days. You will probably not have the urge to replay it either because you will be dreading the horrible make more money mechanic in the hub city. If you must buy I would wait for a more reasonable price.
Final Score 6/10
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 01/28/08
Game Release: No More Heroes (US, 01/22/08)
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