Review by rdccdr801
"It has style, but limited substance."
No More Heroes puts you in the shoes of a character named Travis Touchdown, an assassin in an American city that wants to become the best assassin on the top ten list - a list that is kept up by a covert association of assassins. Instantly, when you turn on the game, you will probably realize that it is different. Every enemy that you kill sprays out pixelized blood. There are many pop culture references, bawdy jokes, and many small distractions from the main story. You will also notice that there is free roaming, but I will discuss more of that later. I was happy that Suda51, the studio that brought Killer7 to the world, also brought us another game that was a little bit out there. However, the game is often more weird than playable.
The graphics can be best described in one word: fugly. It honestly looks like a poorly animated anime cartoon recreated for video games. I actually don't mind the cartoony anime style, but it is poorly done. Everything looks just fine from mid range. But the draw distance is poor for a next gen game, and nearly everything looks abysmal up close. Need some examples of these bad graphics? Well, if you zoom out on the camera, you can see the gauges on Travis' motorbike. These gauges are blurry, 2-D, and have absolutely no detail. Also, the facial expressions of characters are inaccurate, and the NPCs could have easily been done on the Nintendo 64. I admit that it is not all bad. Travis himself looks stylish, and a lot of the other assassins that you face are well detailed. Even the generic baddy looks pretty good. But generally, I was not pleased.
In short, the graphics are not next gen, and not up to par with the Wii's standards. But I play Nintendo 64 games all the time. Graphics don't make a game. Unfortunately, the gameplay doesn't fully atone for the graphics. As I mentioned early, you play as Travis, the assassin. You use a Beam Katana that you apparently won on ebay. It is similar to a light saber, and it even kind of handles like one. Most gamers will enjoy that, and even more gamers will enjoy the upgrades that you can buy in the shop across town. However, I did not enjoy the primitive combat system. All you can do is slash high, slash low, elbow the opponent, and do a spin attack. The spin attack knocks the enemy down and forces you to finish him off on the ground, putting you in danger. Therefore, you never do it. Elbowing doesn't really hurt anyone, so you don't do that either. And slashing low or high rarely makes a difference, unless the enemy in question has a weapon. Enemies in this game are often unarmed. Therefore, you will find yourself locking on, beating the pulp out an enemy, and doing a finisher on him. Sadly, you can't even pick your finisher. The game will tell you to slash in a certain direction, and if you do it, you will finish the enemy off, also doing damage to anyone nearby. This creates very little variation in combat. Yet, strangely, it is fun, because Travis is absolutely unstoppable. Even on the hardest difficulty level, I rarely was challenged in this game, and carved up even large groups of enemies with very little trouble. The most enjoyable part of the game was facing 60 enemies, hacking and slashing away, and easily taking them all out within two minutes.
What is the rest of the game? Well, you need to make money to fight other ranked assassins. To make this money, you need to do side jobs or assassination missions. The side jobs are crap. They are boring mini games that involve picking up coconuts or poisonous scorpions (?!), and they don't pay as well as the assassination missions. Those missions sound way more fun than they really are. You don't just kill one person, Hitman style. You kill hordes of enemies, and you get a certain amount of money per kill. These are easy. Sometimes, you have to kill all of these enemies without taking a certain hit. These are BS, because you often take a cheap shot right in the beginning and die. When you die, you can't just redo it. You have to go back to the building where you signed up for the particular mission, sign up again, drive back over there, and give it another crack. The free roaming that I mentioned earlier? A pathetic attempt at creating a GTA style universe to engage the gamer. It is very very shallow. There are only six or seven places you can visit, and the rest of the city is filled with cars that can't hit you, alleys that lead to nowhere, random money inside dumpsters, and rage. The rage comes from the bike that you are pretty much forced to ride around. It is huge, handles poorly, and needs to be at a complete stop before you can get off of it,
At least the boss battles are pretty good. You face other high ranking assassins, and they are very interesting characters. One is a psychopathic woman that kills men by hitting them with a baseball bat, after making them S & M slaves. One is a high school student. One is a famous singer. All of them tell Travis their story before you face them. Some stories are funny, some are tragic, some are embarrassing, and yet others are just engaging. It really gives the player a feel for what it would be like to be an assassin, as some of these bosses explain how they hide what their true occupation is. The best part is the challenge factor of the bosses. A lot of the bosses don't fall down easily, unless you have a very upgraded Beam Katana. The only reason why I kept playing this game is because I wanted to see who the next opponent would be.
The sound is pretty average. They play j-pop in buildings, a techno beat during battles, the main theme while you roam around the city, and pretty much nothing inside of your motel room. The voice acting is poor, but the dialog behind it is above average. I even found myself laughing at the jokes. It's nothing great, but it doesn't detract from the game. As for the controls, those are pretty average too. First of all, you press A to swing your sword instead of the Wiimote. If you hate Wii controls like I do, this is good. The battle controls are pretty slick. I love how well locking on works, and I love how easy it is to change the camera view. However, the bike controls are utter crap. You never feel comfortable riding it at all.
Do yourself a favor and give this one a rental before you decide to buy it. You might fall in love with the quirkiness, the jokes, and the somewhat engaging story. You probably will despise the weak attempt at a free roaming environment, bland graphics, so-so music, and the repetitive portions of the gameplay.
It may not be the best game ever, but at least give it a chance.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 06/23/09, Updated 07/06/09
Game Release: No More Heroes (US, 01/22/08)
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