With No More Heroes coming out this week, I figured I'd throw together a super quick review. I wrote all this off the top of my head, so I apologize now for bad grammar, missing content and anything else I fucked up. ;P
No More Heroes is about to come out this week and I have to say - about time! This is one game I have been really looking forward to for awhile and I hope it finds its way into a lot of Wiis the next few weeks. Seriously, this is one of those games that I realize won't appeal to everyone or sell a million copies, but god damn is it right up the alley of anyone who enjoys wanton violence, Japanese culture (but from the inside looking out and outside looking in) and/or over-the-top American action films.
The story is just out there, with a nice chuck of swearing and mindless babble during the cut scenes that let you into Travis Touchdown's world. The exchanges between Travis and those he comes into contact with bounces around from serious to absurd to classic to hilarious. My favorite parts of the game, story-wise, has to be the cut scenes before and after each assassin fight - they remind me of tension-filled anime battles or a Tarantino flick with the banter - it just pulls you in and has you gnawing at the bit to get to the next assassin.
Which is important, because the game play isn't going to light the world on fire nor keep interest levels really high on its own. If you've played God Hand, this will bring back memories as its the same mix of innovation held back by poor game play decisions. Basic attacks are executed by spamming the A Button as you slash wave after wave of look-a-like baddies. Once you bring their life down to a certain mark, a giant arrow pops up above their head and you can slash with the Wii Remote to execute them in wonderfully bloody ways. Every once in awhile you'll get a slot machine to pop up and it will grant you one of a handful of special powers that add a trippy filter to the action (like slow-mo and black and white) while letting Travis just go nuts on anyone in his way. I love the one where you move super fast and everyone can be one hit killed, so there is just blood everywhere, its amazing. Now if only the game didn't deteriorate into a mindless brawler so quickly.
In-between the assassin levels, Travis can explore the open world area known as Santa Destroy. If you have played Grand Theft Auto, you should feel right at home. You can ride around on your crazy motorbike, collect money by taking odd jobs - which range from killing people to collecting coconuts and mowing lawns - which is used to pay for the entry fee to the next assassin. Quite smaller than any town since GTA made the jump to the PS2, there is enough to do that it serves as a decent catalyst to move the game forward and allow players to take in the world that Suda 51 created and all the silly shit he filled it with (just spend some time in Travis' apartment).
The presentation for No More Heroes leaves a bit to be desired, but thankfully the art direction helps pull it up a bit higher than it probably deserves. The animation and in-game cut scenes look pretty good, not Nintendo-developed good, but still above average nonetheless. Character models are nothing short of awesome, mixing eccentric with badass seamlessly. But the life is lost to much of the world, as it lacks detail and texture, becoming just some random building, some random hallway, some random mansion, etc. and so forth. And then there's the slowdown - No More Heroes generally runs at 30 FPS (I think its 30 at least), but it'll drop down when roaming around town and if too many baddies come on screen. The sound side of things doesn't find itself in as much trouble, as a solid selection of tunes and perfectly campy voice acting keep everything rolling along.
Though its far from perfect, No More Heroes is a labor of love and you feel the extra 'umph' in the areas that seem to matter most to the developers - memorable characters, off kilter storyline, violent game play and randomly stupid, laugh-out-loud moments. These will stick in your mind more than the so-so graphics and slightly boring fighting. Wii owners looking for anything mature should look directly at this game, as should anyone who just likes feeling and being badass.
Plus - you save by taking a shit - how cool is that?
Final Score - 7.5/10