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'No More Heroes 2' a blood-soaked success

Mar 30, 2010

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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No More Heroes 2: Desperate StruggleThere's no tip-toeing around it - No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle is quite likely the strangest game that will be released in 2010. It has detached heads carrying conversations with the main character, a woman who narrates from a sex club, a boss battle with a football player that takes place in outer space and ... a cat exercise mini-game.

Yes, all that is in the game, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

It's no surprise that NMH2 is so off-the-wall, as it's directed by the eccentric Suda 51, head of developer Grasshopper Manufacture. He's a man whose trademark is strange games, many of which haven't even been released in North America.

'Desperate Struggle' takes place three years after protagonist Travis Touchdown earns the top ranking in the United Assassin's Association. He no longers wants anything to do with the UAA, but joins again to avenge the death of his best friend.

It sure isn't the most original plot ever conceived, but the game more than makes up for its cliche storyline with its bizarre lineup of characters and throwback mini-games.

Gone from the first game is the 'open-world' travelling around Santa Destroy, the fictional city in which Travis lives. In the sequel, Travis' headquarters is his motel room. Whenever he leaves it, the view switches to a top-down perspective, and the player simply moves a cursor to whatever mission or side quest he wants to tackle next. It's a great move by the developers as it allows the player to focus on one of the highlights of the game - the combat.

No More Heroes 2: Desperate StruggleDesperate Struggle is a third-person action game, with Travis taking out enemies with a glowing, light sabre-like katana. It's important to note how exactly Travis 'takes these enemies out,' though. Bad guys' extremities are severed, heads are sliced off, bodies are cut right in half. Blood rains down from everywhere as Travis revels in killing in the most violent ways possible.

The action itself is quite varied with the Wii Remote and Nunchuck. Katana swings can be pulled off either by pressing buttons or swinging one of the controllers, while finishing moves can be activated by pulling off context-sensitive actions, most of which make full use of the Wii's motion controls. Even with new moves being added to Travis' repetoire throughout the game, things never get muddled or confusing. You'll feel like the most maniacal, bloodthirsty Jedi in no time at all.

After beating up on waves of henchmen in each section, a memorable boss fight awaits. You could be taking on anything from a innocent-looking schoolgirl in a pristine field to a terrifying masked man with a flamethrower inside a decrepit cabin in the woods. Some bosses return from the first game, albeit in altered forms, but each and every one feels like it came from the twisted dreams of a game developer who ate too much fast food right before bed.

To be honest, with a few exceptions, none of the final battles are all that different - hack, slash, block, evade, repeat. Yet the characters themselves are so memorable and ludicrous that the simple gameplay can be forgiven. Travis - who just happens to be one of the coolest main characters in video games - usually has an interesting back-and-forth with whoever he's about to fight, making his eventual win all the more sweet.

No More Heroes 2: Desperate StruggleOne thing to remember before you get your hopes up of fighting off 50 bosses - you don't actually take that many on throughout the course of the game. You'll skip several ranks on the list of UAA Assassins (presumably for the sake of keeping the story moving at its breakneck pace).

Though there is a lot always going on in the main plot, there are ways of breaking up the main story. Fans of retro games will love how Travis can earn money to attain more powerful weapons and clothes. Almost every mini-game is set in the style of NES-era 8-bit graphics. There's a 'Pole Position' wannabe and a 'Pipe Dream' ripoff, just for starters. They're all set up in short snippets, and they're addictive as hell.

There are also assassination side missions which consist mostly of just beating a room full of progressively tougher enemies. It's a way to earn extra cash and a few bonus items to decorate your bachelor pad back at the motel.

Later in the game, you also jump into the role of two other characters who aid Travis in his quest for revenge. Controls are all fairly similar and the extra characters seem almost tacked-on more than anything. The female protagonist is the one playable person the game could have done without; she's the only one who has the ability to jump, and for good reason, as the jumping feels much too sloppy and difficult to control.

No More Heroes 2: Desperate StruggleDesperate Struggle's shortcomings are easily overlooked by the style that it oozes at every turn. In fact, it practically forces the player to gloss over any technical problems there may be, in exchange for an experience that you won't find often - especially not on the Wii.

No More Heroes 2 certainly isn't a standout simply because it's a mature rated game on Nintendo's home console though. It's a standout because it drips as much confidence in itself as it does digital blood. It's not perfect, but who gives a damn?

Not Travis Touchdown, that's for sure.

 

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle
Format: Nintendo Wii
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
ESRB Rating: M for Mature
Official Site: http://nomoreheroesgame.us.ubi.com/

Rating: 8.5 / 10

 
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G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.