Jun 17, 2011

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Review: No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise

Note: This review is based on the Japanese version of No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise, which does not support the Move.

Back in 2005 Grasshopper gained a lot of niche fame for Killer 7, so when they announced they were making a Wii game, people were interested. That game became known as No More Heroes and followed resident otaku Travis Touchdown. Due to the Wii’s lack of hardcore titles, No More Heroes was an instant hit on the system, so much so that an HD version of the game was in high demand.  This is where Heroes’ Paradise comes into play. Now that everyone can experience No More Heroes with all-new HD graphics and with the PlayStation Move, is it worth it?

When it comes to games like No More Heroes, people are interested in what it is about. That’s hard to really say, but it’s not a game you play for story. The story follows Travis Touchdown and starts by him invading, then later killing, the 10th UAA ranked assassin. This starts the game’s rather simple story: kill all the remaining assassins and get the girl. From here you will have the choice to move up in assassin rank by fighting the person above you. Each fight is a little different, but ends with you mostly saying one liners, then fighting the boss. There are some twists in the story, but the overall story just makes no sense. If you take it for what it is, you can enjoy it.

One of the complaints about the original Wii release was the gameplay was rather simplistic and could get boring; unfortunately, not much has changed with the HD version. Enemies are not that diverse, and mindlessly slashing your sword is more than enough to beat the game. The average stage is just going from A to B, killing whatever enemies you can, then ultimately fighting the boss. The combat is also very cut and dry. You got slash, heavy slash, melee, block, dodge, lock on, etc. All of these elements boil down to killing your enemies fast. When they’re about to die, you’re offered a dramatic kill, which is pretty violent. The majority of the combat will be normal slashing and avoiding the charge since your sword will crap out (same with extended use, or vs guns). When this happens, you will need to either pick up a charge item, or manually charge it. Manually charging requires Travis to leave himself open and shake the sword to regain charge. The biggest low point for combat is locking on. Since you will lock on to whoever is closest, you will not always attack whom you want to, and this can lead to unwanted damage. Targeting is an element that should have been fixed with this new HD re-release.

Beyond the campaign, Heroes’ Paradise offers an open-world environment you can explore. Sadly, this is done rather poorly.  There are very few places you can visit, which include training, a video store, a bar, a weapon shop, mission, ATM, and odd jobs. These places have rather limited uses and for the most part add very little to the game. Going in the bar offers you power ups for orbs you can find, but they’re all marked on your map. You can also find clothing in dumpsters and such, though an hour of driving around can find most of them.

If you’re looking for more than boss battles, the game has several side missions you can complete around the open-world environment. There are three base types of missions: Odd jobs, UAA, and Free play. Odd jobs are the base, since getting silver unlocks UAA missions and gold unlocks free play. These are fairly–well, weird–and include tasks like filling gas, picking up trash, mowing the lawn, and a few other tasks. UAA missions are mostly tier-based, like pizza assassination 1/2/3. These missions task you with killing the target ASAP, or only use wrestling moves, etc. The final missions are free play and are the hardest thing in the game. These include killing all the enemies without taking damage in a certain amount of time, or less.

By doing these missions you’ll collect cash, which you can use to fight bosses, or upgrade yourself or your weapon. This is a big deficit in the game, as there are three weapons that each have only two add-ons. None of the weapons are balanced, as enemies with guns destroy your weapons’ charge and require you to recharge. No More Heroes tries to fix this by making the last weapon have unlimited charge, though. Once you have unlimited charge, you can use charged attacks with no risk and those can freely attack bosses. Though it’s a nice feature to have, it takes away some of the enjoyment of the game and boils down to how fast you can win.

It’s hard to expect a lot from a Wii title being ported to PS3 and 360. The HD graphics make the game look sharper and cleaner, but it’s not a the huge improvement from the Wii that many might have expected. That said, the game still has its charms and humor that some might enjoy, but don’t go into it thinking that it’s going to be a revolutionary hack-and-slash title. If you go into it knowing  this, then you’ll be better off. The game is painfully short if you just play the campaign (around five hours) and the several side missions have gold win times at around 15 seconds. If you already played this game on the Wii, there’s not much point to go back to it unless you want to play the few extra missions or just want some achievements/trophies. If you haven’t played No More Heroes before, it might be worth experiencing, but definitely in rental form. There are a lot of downsides with few pluses; at this point there are better titles on the PS3 and 360 in this genre.

No More Heroes Heroes' Paradise
Platform: PS3 (reviewed), XBox 360
Genre: Action Adventure
Release Date: August 16, 2011
Developer: Feelplus
Publisher: Konami
ESRB Rating: Mature
MSRP: $39.99


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About Grant Gaines

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