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SummaryQuite enjoyable for Wii owners who want something original.
The GoodThe protagonist of this game, Travis Touchdown, is probably the biggest selling point of this game. He is very enjoyable due to his determination to be more than "just some nerdy guy". Every time Travis said something it was either very awesome or hilariously silly and credit has to be given to the voice-actor who does such a good job at pulling this off. The other characters are very entertaining too and especially Travis' interaction with Sylvia is a joy to watch.
The game's graphic style really rubs me up the right way, it leans more towards an animated style of graphics, but the characters are still recognizably human. There are also some traces of retro spread across, such as arrows over objectives dissolving into cubes (trying to make it look like pixels). It's the boss-design that stands out the most however, not only do these characters look very detailed (quite amazing stuff for the Wii), but they are just designed in interesting and elaborate ways.
The combat itself holds up pretty well too, mostly because it doesn't fall for the trap of making sword-fighting bound entirely to the Wii Motion controls. The only thing you need the Wii Remote for is the finishing moves and mini-games, you can also point it upward to switch to high attacks (as opposed to low attacks), but I never really needed too. Because of this you will still feel your arm after a long session and fighting is much more controlled because you only need to hit A to hit people and can instead focus on dodging and counter-attacking.
Another trick you need to keep an eye on and which gives the fighting more depth, is the battery of your beam sword. If the battery runs out you can no longer do damage to enemies and you can't block anymore either, meaning you are essentially open to all damage. You can recharge the battery by pressing the 1 button and waving the remote around for a few seconds. Having to run across the field and quickly load up my sword in the middle of a tense boss-fight is very tense and exciting. The sword also has enough battery power to make sure you don't run our every few seconds, so this is nicely balanced.
I hear a lot of people complaint about the sandbox map and grinding you need to do before you can enter the next fight, but I found both of these to be decent. The city wasn't too big, so it didn't take very long to get from A to B and it would take maybe one side-mission and two assassination jobs at the most to get the cash needed for the next fight. That is, assuming you don't waste it in the shops that sell junk I found unnecessary during my play through (I finished it with the third beam sword, which cost me 140.000 LB).
There are a lot of clever references and details in this game, the most of which are in Travis' house. Like mentioned before: Travis is presented as a huge geek and his house is full off collectibles. Nearing the end of the game I could still look around a bit and see something cool I hadn't seen before, like that Nintendo 64 on the shelve.
The game also features some good jokes and I must say that I found it refreshing to play a game that doesn't take itself too serious. A few jokes really broke the Fourth Wall and a few of them got a smile or even a laugh out of me. One returning joke was that the people of Santa Destroy (the name of the town you are in) seem to have an awful lots of gods for just about anything. You'll have to discover what I mean yourself though :)
The BadWhat I did hate about the town however was driving around it on the motorcycle. This thing is made in hell, I am absolutely sure about it. The controls are very inconsistent, sometimes steering to the left would result in a huge turn that almost left me driving on the sidewalk and at other times the bike would almost make a full 360 degrees turn and crash me into something. I also hate how entire trees can be knocked over when you hit them, but some object seem to be made out of Titanium, like the bus-stop sign that launched me off my bike when I tried plowing through it. Hit detection is also terrible and I really felt taken out of the experience when I drove close to the side-walk and the people on it would animate like they were been hit, despite the fact you could fit an entire car between them and me.
The shops were also annoying: I never went into the clothing store, but I tried my hand at the different swords in the game and even that was annoying. When you buy a new sword, there is little to no information on it. You get a prize, a name and a description telling you some random stuff. You know what would really help Suda 51? Stats. I can't just assume that a sword is better than what I already got because it has a higher prize and even Kingdom Hearts 538/2 Days was nice enough to say something like "High damage" or "Good for defense".
Most standard enemies got really bland design and there are maybe eight different enemies in the entire game with four or five different weapons. Given, they were most cannonfodder anyway and unless they had Beam Swords of their own, killing them was maybe three hits and a quick-time event away, but I would have enjoyed some randomized faces and hair style. If anything, it would at least at a little variety to the fighting because you will have to kill a lot of these buggers before you get to the actual boss.
After every mission the amount of money you need for the next one jumps up (mostly 50.000 LB at a time). However, the money you get for side-jobs and assassination jobs doesn't, so I ran into the problem that I kept returning to the earlier missions because the newer ones weren't worth the effort. Why would I take the fight to enemies with Beam Sword when I get the same amount of money when murdering some dude in a parking lot? I mentioned the grinding wasn't as long as people said it would be, but this is still really retarded.
The game is rather short, I finished it in less than ten hours. The problem is not so much that I find it short, Call of Duty games are normally shorter, but they have side-missions and multiplayer, both of which No More Heroes lacks. You can endlessly repeat the side-jobs and assassination missions if you want to and you can buy all the useless clothes, but this has no effect or reward to it, so it feels hallow and pointless.
Finally, I have a small complaint towards the ending. I AM NOT GOING TO SPOIL ANYTHING, but there is an "ending" and a "real ending" (the game reveals this very clearly). The problem is that when there is a real ending, you naturally want to get that one, but this game gives you no hint about how to do that. I hate looking things up on the internet, but left with little choice I did it anyway and found out you had to get all the swords in the game, which strikes me as insanely arbitrary. How does owning these items change anything? At least in "Illbleed" there was a logic behind it: "Forget a friend, you get a bad ending. Find all your friends, you get a good ending".
The Bottom LineDespite the amount of Good and Bad things is just about balanced, I must say that overall "No More Heroes" leans more towards the good. It is a very enjoyable hack & slash game with some truly interesting graphics and bosses and characters. It has a lot of flaws, that is true, but the developers took chances in an attempt to provide an interesting experience and and interesting experience we got.
The artistic crowd will likely get the most fun out of this game and if you are craving for a decent action game on the Wii, then this 16+ title is also worth checking out. Some people might be turned off by the kind of humor or the graphics style though, so be on the look-out for poking fun at Geek Culture, sex jokes and look up some screenshots.