Originally Posted 13 July 2010
Over the weekend, I played all the way through No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle. For a very long time, I considered the first No More Heroes game to be the best game available on the Wii console. It was and continues to be certainly the best Mature title for the device that I’d played.
No More Heroes was the story of Travis Touchdown–wrestling and anime otaku, probable NEET, and general loser–who won a lightsaber off of eBay and decided to become an assassin for the chicks. This set up alone was enough to sell the game to me. The first No More Heroes catalogs his ascension by murder to the top of the world-wide assassin’s organization–the United Assassins Association.
This game picks up three years after the first with Travis back to mostly being a poor, unemployed user. The difference now is that he is famous for his exploits of the first game and has been targetted by enemies that he made back during the first game. So, we end up climbing the ranks of the UAA again.
Gameplay wise, not much has changed. The game alternates between the assassination areas and the between mission upgrade/minigame section. In the assassination areas, Travis still wades through hordes of enemies with his beam saber before eventually arriving at his designated target. The assassination fights themselves are still the core of the gameplay and remain quite strong in this second iteration. The between mission areas have been altered somewhat in that Santa Destroy is no longer an open, explorable world.
The loss of the explorable world is not really that big of an issue. In the first game, the primary purpose of the explorable world was to obtain money with which to buy weapon upgrades. In this one, there are no weapon upgrades per se. Instead, each weapon offers a different style of combat. Additionally, only two weapons are available directly for sale and the time to get the money to buy both is rather small (assuming you get good at the minigames). Unfortunately, the game unlocks the second purchasable weapon–the Peony–very early in the game. This particular weapon makes the game far easier due to its huge damage and equally huge hit areas. In fact, it was so imbalancing, it gave me flashbacks of using Hymir’s Finger in Drakengard.
They have mixed things up a few things this time. A couple of the boss fights are different than the usual beam saber flair. Travis gets a motorcycle shoving match and a giant mecha fight, for instance. There are also a couple of levels in which you play as alternate characters with slightly different movesets.
Unfortunately, the things that I liked most about the first game were the interplay between characters, the bizarre and off the wall way the characters behave, and the plot which was full of random and mostly arbitrary plot twists complete with characters ignoring the fourth wall. Although there are still some good moments between the characters, there is still some craziness from the characters, and the characters still occasionally ignore the fourth wall, none of it seems as solid this time around.
Furthermore, it seems like the assassination targets themselves have less “life” than they had previously. Although a few of them are interesting and have colorful backstories, there just aren’t any that can live up to “Bad Girl” or “Holly Summers” from the first game.
So is the game worth it? Well, much like what I said in the Diabolic Box review, this is a game targeted at fans of the first. If you liked the first, you will at least enjoy this one, even if it isn’t quite as good as the previous. If you didn’t like the first one, there’s probably nothing here for you. In all honesty, I was disappointed with it given how amazing the first one was. My hope is that the inevitable No More Heroes 3 makes up for this one.
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle: 0