Thursday, February 18, 2010

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle Review

This has been a couple weeks in the making (and sorry for the delay), but this two-person review is finally here! No More Heroes, one of our favorite Wii games, finally got a sequel. Being a Suda51 game, there was no doubt the game would be crazy and entertaining from a style standpoint, but the actual gameplay itself? That was a little more up in the air. Read on good friend, find out what we thought of No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle. My parts are in black, JDW's are in red.

The story of No More Heroes 2 is not one to be taken as seriously as say, Mass Effect 2. It has a crazy kind of off the wall value to it, that some will appreciate and some will hate. I personally, loved the style. The game cops you out of so much that you expect in it's progression, and jokes about it later, pouring salt in your wounds. I thought it was hilarious, I know others were angry about this, but if you can approach it with an open mind and take it as lightly as the game takes itself, you will love the story that is told. Sure the bosses may be less interesting as a whole, but that's not to say they are all bad. There are a few select fights that will stick with me for quite a while, I'll say that much. Just do yourself a favor and don't spoil anything with videos or screens, the surprises are half the fun.

I have to agree here. No More Heroes 2 is classic Suda51, off-beat characters, unusual gameplay, and jokes throughout the game pointing it all out. Also, considering this is Suda51's first ever sequel, it was interesting to see how he handle returning to Santa Destroy. But, even though you'll be going from rank 51 (get it?) to the top, as opposed to starting from 10... don't expect the game to last much longer. And with that in mind, I can't say all the bosses were as memorable as the first game's 10 assassins, but some were certainly stand-outs.

The gameplay is practically identical to the first game, par a few details here and there. It's a straight up hack-n-slash, somewhat of a dying genre, so I say take it while you can. The fighting is broken up with mini-games that help you power up Travis, shape up your cat, or earn money. Most of these mini-games have a retro, 8-bit style to them, and are hands down an improvement over the approach the first game had of "fight tons of enemies to farm money so you can get to the interesting boss battle." You can blow through NMH2 in a little less than 10 hours, boss fight after boss fight, if you wish. This is a very welcome option, and outside of a few rough patches it keeps the pacing right where you want it the whole way through. Also, unlike the first game, NMH2 has Classic Controller support. I was really excited for this addition, but in the end it really disappointed, the satisfaction of the finishing move just wasn't there. I'd recommend sticking with the tried and true.

The gameplay additions, while a nice inclusion to the already awesome combat system, I felt didn't really do much for NMH2. For instance, the two beam katanas? You won't actually get those till later in the game, and even then they play just like you were using one. Not that it's a bad thing, as you should fix what isn't broken, but the teasing leading up to the release made it seem like so much more. Same thing with playing as Shinobu and Henry, you'll only use them 1-2 times, and I honestly hated platforming with Shinobu because the camera system stinks. The 8-bit side missions were fun though, at first, but you'll eventually find yourself sticking to 1 or 2 of them for when you need cash.

The graphics were are a massive step up. This has got to be the most stylish game on the Wii, and if you aren't afraid to spill a little blood, I'm sure you'll like what they've done overall. It has a very clean, very distinct look to it. More detail than the first game, and just a more well thought out overall style.

Agreed, NMH2 really is a showcase of what developers should be doing on the Wii. If you can't do ultra-realism like the beefier 360 and PS3, and then surely ultimate-style is the way to go, and this game reeks of it. I was a bit unsettled when I saw that this game ditched the first's distinct, heavy black shading, but in motion all my worries were gone. Definitely a graphical showcase, but I just wish there was more variety to the grunt enemies.

The sound is the only area which I would say had a major dip from the first. The music in NMH1 was just so awesome and memorable, while in 2, it's either something rehashed from 1, or just kind of there. A bit of a let down.

Agreed again, while the No More Heroes theme-song is catchy, I kind of which I didn't have to just hear remixes of it throughout all the levels. There is an occasional new song here and there, but these fights go by so fast that you probably won't even realize it.

Final Thoughts
No More Heroes 2 is in my opinion, an improvement. Yes, some it does seem as if some style was lost, yes, the music isn't as good, and yes, the bosses on a whole are not as interesting. But the game is more streamlined, packed with fun mini-games, and just refined all around. When the game shines, it shines pretty damn bright. Honestly, I do expect that the soon-to-be port of the original game to the HD consoles will take the place as my favorite NMH game, but as of now, that honor rests on 2.

I have mixed feelings about No More Heroes 2, I loved it (as I do with most of Suda51's work), but I can't help but feel this game was less memorable than the first game. What made the first game so great was the brilliant use of the Wiimote in combat, great character/battle design, and the style. While NMH2 captures most of that, I think it's a definite drop in the character department. While Travis and Sylvia both get more developed, Henry and Shinobu fall flat, and the bosses have such little screen-time for you to care about them. It's still a great game, albeit a short one, but there's just some things from the first game I missed this time around.

Nick's Score: 8.5/10
JDW's Score: 8.8/10

Overall Score: 8.7/10

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