Wednesday, 4 August 2010

REVIEW: No More Heroes

No More Heroes
[Wii] [Grasshopper Manufacture]
Every once in a while, a game comes along that looks so unique, it seems too good to be true. And it usually is. Take High Voltage Software's The Conduit as an example of this. They hyped it up with their amazing new Quantum graphics system, making their new Wii first-person shooter look comparable to Xbox 360 and PS3 games. Because of this, the various trailers that were shown and general fanboyism, gamers hyped to be "the" FPS on Wii that could rival even the best FPS games on other systems. In the end though, it ended up getting only decent review scores because the game was short and the levels were linear, probably because High Voltage were concentrating too much on their precious Quantum engine rather than actually trying to make The Conduit as enjoyable as possible. A case of style over substance is an appropriate explanation. You're probably thinking to yourself, "Why the hell are you talking about The Conduit?! Isn't this supposed to be a review of No More Heroes?" Well yeah, it is, and I've not been talking about High Voltage Software's disappointing title for nothing. As I mentioned before, The Conduit (and various other games released before and after it) had a sad case of style over substance. That's where legendary maniac game dev Suda51 comes in with his madcap Wii game No More Heroes. Why? Because not only was the game's stylish meter going off the charts, it's substance levels were pretty high too. And with that, let's get into my review.

When No More Heroes was first announced, gamers knew it was going to be a smash hit for the Wii. Coming from the devious minds behind Gamecube and PS2 classic Killer7, No More Heroes took the action game genre and turned it into something spectacular, funny and oh so weird. The story is pretty complex (strangely, some of it is only mentioned in the instruction booklet!) but can luckily for me it can be explained in a simple manner. Meet Travis Touchdown, a hygiene-impaired slob who one day runs into smokin' hot chick Silvia Christel, a devilish woman who just happens to run the United Assassination Association in Travis' hometown of Santa Destroy. After ending up killing a drifter in the ranked assassination tournament, Travis becomes an officially ranked UAA assassin, with nowhere to go but all the way to number one, And with that, he is set with the challenge of killing the ten weird and wacky ranked assassins above him. Of course, that's just the basic plot, but it's enough to explain the story of the game without spoiling anything. When you first slap the game disk into the Wii, the game kicks off almost instantly. After watching the opening sequence, you begin the game as Travis riding his trusty Schpeltiger bike into a mansion owned by the 10th ranked boss in the UAA rankings. After chopping a few grunts in half and rudely kicking the door down, Travis shouts "It's game time!" and the player takes control.

The game's first boss taunts Travis more than he should be doing. Make him pay.

No More Heroes takes a wash, rinse, repeat formula that could annoy people. After slaying the tenth ranked assassin, Silvia sets Travis the task of making some money by taking part in side-jobs and assassination missions. The wash, rinse, repeat formula works like this; Do a side-job, unlock assassination missions, do assassination missions till you make enough money to enter the next ranking fight, pay your hard earned cash to the UAA and commence the next ranking battle, kill the next ranked assassin and repeat. It can be quite tedious sometimes, as the side-jobs are a bit boring, and you don't make a whole lot of money from them. The assassination missions on the other hand, are fun, concentrated blasts of killing grunts and making a decent amount of money from it. The highlight of the game is definitely the ranked battles though, as these see you running through levels, killing waves of enemies and then indulging in a stylish cut-scene or two followed by a boss fight. Around 60% of the game is made up of ranked battles, which is certainly a good thing as the main levels are the sections of No More Heroes which give the game it's unique charm.

Speaking of boss fights, the character design in both No More Heroes and its sequel is absolutely astonishing. Suda51 and his team have clearly spent time designing the various weirdo's Travis Touchdown will be slaying. In fact, Grasshopper have probably made the two games with the best character design EVER, and that's really something. Throughout NMH, you'll be fighting against a deadly schoolgirl samurai, a punk doctor armed with a massive doomsday machine, an annoying anti-hero with a massive laser that shoots out of his crotch, the wacky list goes on. There's 11 bosses in total in the game (although you only fight ten), and let's not forget the protagonist himself, Silvia Christel, as well as the various other story characters that turn up on Travis' quest.

The side-jobs you'll be taking part in are a bit tedious. Honestly, Scorpion Collecting?

I know what you're thinking. Travis Touchdown's weapon is essentially ripping-off a Lightsaber, so that would mean some gimmicky motion controls. Wrong. Instead you simply lock onto enemies with the Z button, then rapidly tap A whilst either holding the remote in a high or low stance to do different combos. Once an enemy's health bar has been drained to zero, an arrow pointing either horizontally or vertically will appear on screen, giving you the sign to swing the remote in that direction to initiate a powerful death blow move. Alternatively, when an enemy's health is near zero, you can hold b to charge a melee attack and stun the enemy, then allowing you to press the B button again to initiate a wrestling move. These non-waggle controls are for the better really, as the system gives players the best of both worlds without making the motion controls gimmicky.

So far, I've praised No More Heroes quite a bit, but the game does have it's fair share of gripes. As I said before, the game works in a sort of a cycle which could annoy some users into submission, especially when you reach the rank 5 battle and someone ends up stealing your kill, and your boss fight (I won't spoil anything). It's a bit tedious having to do these boring side-jobs after every single rankings fight simply to unlock some decent assassination missions in order to make more money for the next fight. Luckily, when you start a new game after finishing your first play-through, you don't have to worry about unlocking killing missions because all the ones you already unlocked in your first playthrough will be open to you. No More Heroes' biggest flaw by far though is the slightly tedious hub. Santa Destroy is far too big, housing only a few main areas. Then there's the annoyance that is the side-missions, various locations around Santa Destroy that you can visit to kill some grunts for cash. Every last one of these bonus missions are ruined by the fact that if you take a single hit, you don't make any money at all and you lose the mission. Of course, these are only optional, so you can just ignore them if you want. And believe me, you will want to avoid them.

Santa Destroy is well designed, but it's far too big with so little to do!
Still, these minor annoyances only put a small dent on the insane quality that No More Heroes offers. It's since been bettered by the sequel, but even if you have that it's still definitely worth picking the original game as it can be found second hand for only a few quid. NMH and its sequel could be the two best action adventure games on Wii, and if not, they're definitely the most weird and the most stylish. In short, Travis Touchdown's quirky psychotic adventure is a must buy if you've got a Wii. And once you've finished this one, the brilliant sequel (which I still haven't got my hands on yet) is just around the corner. A 'Killer' game if there ever was one.

No More Heroes is one of the best Wii-exclusive games out there. You can pick it up really cheap from CEX so if you still don't have it, pick up a copy immediately!

1 comment:

emperor ing said...

Great review noodle, sums the game up nicely. I still haven't picked up Desperate Struggle myself either.