[Game Review] No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle (Wii)

System: Wii (Exclusive)
Devloper: Grasshopper Manufacture
Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre: Action

I have always wanted Quentin Tarantino to make a video game. The way he makes his films, with over-the-top violence, plenty of sex, ass loads of awesomeness, and way too much dialogue would make the perfect video game script.

However, that’s not likely to happen any time soon. So instead, us gamers have to look to Suda 51 and Grasshopper Manufacture to get our overdose of interactive bad assery, and Suda’s latest masterpiece, No More Heroes 2, is more than enough for any gamer craving something out of the ordinary in the best way imaginable.

Review:

The story for Desperate Struggle picks up three years after the first game, the events of which saw Travis Touchdown climb the ranks of the assassination games to the number one spot and then simply walking away. After being suckered into a fight with the 51st ranked assassin, Skelter Helter, and having the disembodied head of his best friend, Bishop, thrown through his window in a paper bag, Travis is given no choice but to begin a new killing spree and climb to the top of the ranks all over again if he wants to get revenge on his friend’s murderers.

While the story is decent, it’s the characters that really stand out. Suda and his team have done an amazing job crafting unbelievable, over-the-top characters that feel, some how, alive. Every boss you encounter is truly unique, unlike any other you’ll see in the game. Just as interesting are the characters who help progress the story. Sylvia, your representative in the assassin games, is the one you interact with most. Sexy, seductive, and always under dressed, she is the one who sets up each and every fight you’re going to enter. Side mission characters like the overly flamboyant Ryan are great for a laugh, and their dialogue is spot on.

Gameplay is essentially the same as it was in the original, albeit improved upon very subtly. However, those minor improvements, tweaks, and refinements make combat much smoother and far more clean than it was in the first game. The over the top, beat ’em up combat is very simple to understand. Tilt the Wiimote upwards and hit the ‘A’ button for a high attack, point it downward with ‘A’ to execute a slower but more powerful low attack.

Throw in some motion-activated moves and melee attacks (‘B’ trigger) to make effective combos. Once an opponent runs out of health, you are given an opportunity for a powerful, bloody finishing move, pulled off by swinging the Wiimote along with on-screen quick time commands. The results involve disembodied heads, buckets of blood, and, for whatever reason, a tornado of dollar bills shooting from your opponents gaping wounds.

There are a few instances in the game where you’ll have to play as a character other than Travis, one of which is our lead character’s student Shinobu, a fast-moving, stealthy assassin with the ability to jump. Sounds awesome, right? Wrong. The missions with Shinobu center almost entirely around her ability to jump, and the way the programmers designed the character to handle makes for some of the most painful platforming I’ve ever had to endure. You have little to no control of where she goes, what she lands on, what she falls off of, or which way she’ll jump. Things are made even worse by the game’s camera, which often times does whatever the hell it wants instead of doing something that would make sense, like staying behind your character. These Shinobu portions are, without a doubt, the worst parts of the game.

Also, there’s a pretty good chance of turning into a tiger during combat for no reason at all. It’s never explained, never talked about, nothing. It just happens randomly. If that doesn’t make this game beyond bad ass then I don’t know what does. Maybe the giant robot fight? The tons of explicit language and sexual innuendos? The lead character’s obsession with a Japanese anime starring five busty little girls in skimpy clothing? Yes, it’s all of those things.

In between combat, you have the option of doing a few things around Santa Destroy, although you won’t be traversing the town via your bad ass motorcycle. Instead, everything is handled through a hub menu. If you never played the first game, you may think this sounds like a downgrade. If you have played the first game, chances are you’re pretty thankful they ripped the open world element from the game. It just didn’t work in the original. The engine wouldn’t allow for free roaming. There were glitches, pop ups, and it was just tedious. Now things work much better, and everything can be done without the pain of having to deal with clunky, broken driving controls.

The meat of the side missions come in the form of 8-bit style “jobs.” These jobs are minigames that allow you to earn extra cash to spend at Ryan’s Gym, Naomi’s Lab, or clothing store Airport 51. Needless to say, the minigames are absolutely awesome. You’ll be killing bugs, delivering pizzas on a moped that goes over 200 MPH, catching coconuts, and picking up trash from outer space. There will be the occasional and they bomb hard. Horrid controls, terrible visuals, and overall stupid design decisions make the 3D minigames some of the biggest messes I’ve ever seen.

Final Words:

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle is awesome. Entirely bad ass. It’s like playing a Quintin Tarantino movie, no joke. The stylized visuals give the game personality, though are technically very unimpressive and even outright ugly on the occasion, the audio is a real treat, and there will rarely be a conversation of in-game banter where you won’t bust out laughing, and the combat is, for the most part, very satisfying and fluid.

It is nowhere near perfect, but it is a huge improvement over the original, and No More Heroes was a great game. Though flawed, this is one of the funnest games you’re going to find on the Wii, and I highly recommend picking it up if you’re looking for a brawler with buckets of blood and great combat controls.

Pros

  • Like playing a Quintin Tarantino movie
  • Combat controls are great
  • Boss fights are satisfying
  • Mini games are awesome
  • Dialogue is hilarious

Cons

  • Visuals are technically unimpressive
  • Playing as Shinobu
  • Pretty short game

Score: 8.25/10 (Great)

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