No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle - WII - Review
If you haven’t been paying close attention you may have missed it. And really, it’s not your fault. No doubt your Wii collection is primarily made up of offshoot “games” like Wii Fit or first-party Nintendo titles such as New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Fun, sure, but they’re definitely lacking a certain sizzle that is so readily found on every other platform. Fortunately, Ubisoft’s newest entry, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, is a game for when the girlfriend is gone or the kids are in bed and you need to unleash some wicked swordplay in gratuitous fashion.
For those unfamiliar with the original title, Desperate Struggle centers on Travis Touchdown, a beam katana-wielding assassin full of quips and pent-up testosterone. The game centers on moving up the assassin rankings to the number one overall to reclaim your rightful place at the top. This time Travis is looking for revenge as well as the recognition; especially since he’s been the target of vengeance by many others.
Obviously, as a Wii game, it’s not going to have the same graphical power behind it other console games. That said, Desperate Struggle looks fantastic. Developer Grasshopper Manufacture cranked the art and style up to 11, continuing to give the series a unique look in a world otherwise dominated by realistic graphical one-upmanship. Instead of fighting that losing battle, Desperate Struggle is reminiscent in style to Sin City with the characters and atmosphere to boot.
Concerning gameplay, let me offer one brief piece of advice if you are taking your first step into the series with Desperate Struggle like I did. Take five minutes to read the manual on how the control scheme works. I understand the “I’ll figure it out as I go” mentality, as that was my thought, too. But before long I was swinging around the controller in a fashion harkening back to when people played Wii Sports Tennis for the first time. Suffice it to say, the controls are not complicated and are intuitive, provided you have the time to learn them.
Combat is enjoyable and varied in boss battles, but can get a little repetitive in stages when clearing room after room of baddies. It’s never unbearable, though, it can get a bit monotonous when you’re forced to wait for the next wave of grunts to die with minimal effort or danger to self. The automated camera works well enough and allows for quick repositioning and target locks. In a third-person action titles such as this, camerawork can often be a frustrating downfall for otherwise solid games but I have yet to stumble across any significant problems.
From time to time I ran around unable to see my next direction, but it never affected anything significantly. And as one of my pet peeves are gimmicky controls thrown in haphazardly, I am happy to say the motion controls are integrated well in both the main combat and mini-games – they don’t feel superfluous and/or unneeded.
Voice-acting and dialogue are some of the best parts in the entire game. They follow the motif of the rest of the game in that you never know what is going to happen or come next, and even when prepared for that, it doesn’t disappoint. From innuendo-laced conversations that wouldn’t fool a third-grader to a propensity to break down the fourth wall and speak to the viewer, cut scenes are something you’ll never want to skip, although you do have the option if you are fun-impaired. The only exception to this is in combat when you’ll hear many of the same taunts thrown your way ad nauseum. But this is a minor concern when surrounded by the rest of the excellent voice over work.
For those that can get tired of doing the same sword swinging without a break there are plenty of things to keep you busy and earning extra cash for your wardrobe and other enhancements both practical and novel. When back at Travis’ apartment, you have access to a fat feline that could use a workout to stay trim and healthy. Or any number of side activities to keep you busy such as laying pipe … for sewage and waste management, of course. The city map lists worthwhile destinations that are a click and load screen away, doing away with the free roaming of the original to bring you immediately to the points of interest.
For whatever reasons, I had my doubts. Yet, in no more than 15 minutes, my attitude did a complete 180 and I found myself completely hooked. Desperate Struggle is a fantastic experience for the adult crowd that is both chaotic and extremely likable. While in no way a game for younger gamers it provides a stylized visual experience, laugh out loud dialogue, fun boss battles, and varied mini-games and goals to mix things up. Few games, if any, can claim to have as much personality as this and it shows from the beginning.
While often simple and relatively straight forward, the combat is still fun and enjoyable. Mix in loads of mini-games and things are broken up enough to keep it fresh.
It’s hard to imagine a better visual experience on the Wii. Creative maneuvering around the systems limitations made way for a wonderful artistic style.
Repeated taunts and effects are the only hiccup in otherwise hilariously written and voice-acted dialogue.
I am hard pressed to think of a game that has more creativity and personal style.
Desperate Struggle is so unpredictable it’s like the punch line to a parody of Japanese pop culture. Frantic and all over the map, it somehow makes it all work and gives Wii owners an amazing game for an older audience – a rare treat to find on Nintendo’s console.