From the second No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise starts you just know you are in for a hell of a show. Riding his motorcycle full pelt at a set of huge doors the game’s protagonist, Travis Touchdown, smashes through, decapitating two guards in one foul swoop, before declaring them “f**k heads” whilst their still gushing corpses fall to the floor.
Whilst Travis is, in essence, a geek he is also the 11th-ranked assassin in the world, and under the guidance of stereotypical French miss ‘Sylvia Christe’ he has his sights set on the number one slot. Oh, and when we say ‘guidance’ what we actually mean is Sylvia has promised to do the nasty with Travis if he kills ranks ten to one. So begins the videogame equivalent of Kill Bill, only with a foul-mouthed pervert at the helm.
First up is the combat. Travis is equipped with a beam katana, which is a lightsaber without the threat of legal action from Mr.Lucas. You have your normal high and low attacks, and well as a punch and kick that can stagger, or even daze, an opponent. Once an enemy’s health bar has been depleted you are prompted to finish them off with a QTE. Woah, come back! Yes, QTEs can have a negative impact on a game if overused, but in No More Heroes it feels spot on.
Something new to this edition is the gallons upon gallons of blood spilled. The Wii original swapped out blood for black pixels (which were actually rather cool) but not so this time; for the faint of heart it is not. To crank the ‘bad-ass’ meter up to eleven, Travis can also block and deflect projectiles with his ligh…beam katana. He’s just like Yoda, if Yoda decided he was only going to help save the galaxy if he could cop a feel off Princess Leia.
To add a bit of variety into the mix Travis will learn various wrestling moves throughout the game. These are a welcome, and powerful, addition to your arsenal and can be activated once you dizzy an enemy. You’ll also need to master the evasive roll for when you come face to face with ranked fighters. Controlling Travis with a DualShock 3 feels very slick, with a handy target lock for when you are attacking large groups.
Using Move control was a bit hit and miss, however. Control of Travis is handed over to the Navigation Controller, and whilst you still use buttons to initiate your main attacks the motion control comes into play when applying the finishing blow. It’s ok, but I found myself heading back to the DualShock. Oh, a special mention goes to the action you must perform to recharge your beam katana; it’s a bit…risqué.
Being an assassin isn’t just kill kill kill though, you have to look your best too. Scattered throughout city are various T-shirts which you can change into back at the motel (your base). You can also buy various outfits if the mood takes you. Hitting the gym will see you take part in various mini-games to try and increase your strength and stamina, and you can also upgrade your weapon for a price.
All this is just garnish, however, for the main dish that is the ranked fights. Once you earn the required amount of cash you are told to go to a designated spot where you will then fight your way to the boss. They really are the stars of the show here; each one different, each introduced in a fantastic cutscene, and despatched just as impressively.
We all need to recharge our sword once in a while...
It’s all of the above which makes the many negatives such a bitter pill to swallow. Whilst the main character models look stunning, and there are some wonderful retro touches, screen tearing is prevalent and slowdown happens frequently in mad scraps, which can lead to some cheap deaths. When you’re not embroiled in a fight to the death, you are roaming the open-world of Santa Destroy, but apart from a few collectibles it is an extremely barren and uninteresting place, which is a shame as the foundation is there for a bustling city full of little nooks and crannies.
Whilst the game rewards object destruction in Santa Destroy, a number of annoying glitches make this a tiresome process. I’ve lost count of the times Travis’ bike has become stuck to a lamppost for seemingly no apparent reason, and the only way to rectify this is to ditch the bike and run down the road, before using your phone and calling for it to be dropped off again. There is also the question as to why you can plough through fully grown trees, but a plastic table and chair will cause the bike to come to a complete halt, throwing Travis off in the process. It doesn’t help that the bike handles like a fridge with square wheels.
The biggest issue, however, is the artificial padding of the game’s length. To earn money to enter the next fight you must perform a set of mini-games such as mowing a lawn, or collecting coconuts. Whilst they are short in length, it becomes an absolute chore when you simply want to continue with what No More Heroes does best. The mini-games also feel unbalanced, with some earning you $50,000 whilst others will net you $15,000. You can also take part in assassin missions, but they are almost all the same and as such get just as boring.
I was hoping that this section of the game would have been toned down for the PS3 release, as it was probably the most commented on issue with the Wii version. Alas this is not the case.
- Epic ranked fights.
- Gorgeous HD character models.
- Fluid combat system.
- Did we mention those ranked fights?
- Screen tearing.
- Drawn out, repetitive process for getting cash.
- Santa Destroy is barren.
No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise is a fantastic game, held back by some frustrating design decisions. For every moment spent whooping in delight as you vanquish a foe, you’ll spend two more grimacing as you have to mow someone’s lawn, or try and pry yourself free from a lamppost. When it’s good it’s almost unbeatable, but the filler in-between is exactly that.