Review by ViolentAngel
Trust your force, and PLEASE head for the garden of madness.
Intro- So, in case you didn't know, in No More Heroes you take on the role of Travis Touchdown, the currently 11th ranked assassin in the UAA (an association for assassins in the United States). Your goal? To kill 10 other assassins (and a LOT of other people) and ultimately become number 1! To do this you'll utilize stylish beam katana attacks, brutal wrestling moves, and crazy deathblows that'll leave you wading through a magnificent looking rain of blood. If that doesn't have you sold, you must not be much like me. But if your interest is piqued, read on, and see if this is the kind of experience you should sign up for.
Let's get the obvious out of the way right off the bat. No More Heroes (NMH) is a hack'n'slash, beat-'em-up kind've game. The majority of gameplay is going to revolve around cutting your enemies to pieces with one of the beam katanas at your disposal. Unlike most Wii games that involve swordplay, you won't be stuck swinging your arm around like some sort of circus freak for all of your combos. Nah, instead you just push the A button, and utilize the motion sensing functions only to perform deathblows (by swinging the wii-mote in a certain direction when prompted) and to adjust the "height" of your attacks. You lock on/block with Z, use wrestling moves and beat attacks with B, dodge-roll with the d-pad, and move with the analog. While combat might sound a little bare-bones for a game containing so much of it, the system actually works very well most of the time. Before long you'll be slicing and dicing with the best of 'em, and showing the helpless grunts all of the finest wrestling moves Calgary has to offer. All in all, combat is a great time, and you'll look forward to the next head you get to sever from a random enemy's body.
In between all of the fighting, you're free to roam about the city of Santa Destroy on your motorcycle, the Schpeltiger, and visit all the local sites and stores and whatnot. You can buy Travis a wide variety of different clothes at the local clothing store, rent videos to learn new wrestling moves, visit a laboratory that will produce new swords for you, train at a local gym, get beaten senseless by a drunk to learn special techniques, and do several part-time jobs in order to pick up some extra spending money. While at first the city might feel a little tacked on and less lively than other such areas in games these days, it really gets very fun once you become used to making your rounds between Ranking Missions, and the part time jobs are a fun little distraction from all the mayhem.
The only real complaint I have regarding gameplay is that some of the boss battles really like to drag themselves out, and they can become very repetitive. What happens is that the bosses have too much health for their own good, so about halfway through the fights you're just repeating the same strategy of dodging their attacks and countering again and again and again for no real damage. It isn't a matter of difficulty, merely that it takes way too long to beat bosses who you had figured out a few minutes into the fight.
Even so, the bosses are still fun and sometimes epic fights, and gameplay all around is an absolute joy. One of the game's finest areas.
Now, if you've already played this game, you're probably thinking "10/10!? What the hell!?" but hear me out. The story of NMH is so completely bare bones and ridiculous that it is absolutely perfect for a game like this. It brings back memories of old-school beat-'em-ups where your only motivation was a kidnapped girlfriend and a whole lot of anger. The plot has a few little twists and turns, the cut-scenes are all very stylishly done, and the dialogue is pretty funny at times. The game also enjoys breaking the fourth wall near the end, which was something I really enjoyed. It may not by high art, but the story fits perfectly with the rest of the game, and I sure am happy for it.
The music in NMH is about par for the course. There are a few tracks here and there that'll perk your ears up, but most of it is just background noise that you aren't going to pay too much attention to. The game's sound really shines in the effects and voice acting departments, though. From the beam katana whirrs and whooshes coming from the wii-mote in your hand to the shrieks and cries of your dismembered enemies, to the silly and yet endearing banter between Travis and everyone he encounters, the effects are pure gold as far as I'm concerned. You'll probably have a good chuckle whenever you first hear an enemy say "I'm gonna kick you in the nuts!" or cry "AHH MY SPLEEN!" when you tear them apart. Ah, fills my heart with joy, it does.
The low point of the game. The graphics are...pretty good. As it IS a Wii game, it pales in comparison to PS3 or 360 games in the looks department, and doesn't even measure up to the quality of some other Wii games (Mario Galaxy). But is this a problem? Not really. The game is very stylized, so you won't ever really care that the graphics could've been done on a PS2. The arterial sprays, shadows, and fancy looking cel-shading are all highlights. Overall, like the story, the graphics are fine for a game like this. Nicely done.
Sadly, after your first playthrough (took me about 17 hours, but I wasted a lot of time in the city), there isn't a whole lot new to do. You unlock a new difficulty, and there's concept art to collect. Yipee? Still, the game is so fun and arcadey that replaying the missions isn't so bad, and there's still all of those clothes to purchase if you didn't get 'em your first time through. If you just HAVE to get everything, you'll keep yourself busy for quite a while.
All in all, No More Heroes is a hell of a fun time. Travis is one of the coolest characters to be introduced in games in quite some time, and the combat never really does get old. If you're a fan of beat-'em-ups, violence, anime, the 80s, or Suda 51, you're sure to be very, very pleased. Now get out there, and remember Satan's Ferris Wheel! The double-arm suplex!
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: No More Heroes (US, 01/22/08)
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