I recently finished playing No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle. I reviewed the original game and gave it an Awesome rating. It was a super-amazing game, and if it was legal I would have married it. The goddamn religious-right in this country continues to claim that marriage is only allowable between a man and a woman. Until I die I will fight for a person’s right to marry disc-based media. But I digress…
As I loved the original game, I had very high expectations for the sequel. Fortunately, it did not disappoint. The sequel improves almost every aspect of the first game. There were a couple of changes I didn’t like, but on the whole, they pulled off a superior sequel.
The story is more or less the same. You play as Travis Touchdown, the former number one ranked assassin in the world. After attaining the top status at the end of the first game, he walked away, hoping to never be seen again. However, his friend was murdered, and he was brought back into the fold with an eye for revenge. To get his revenge, he must kill the current number one ranked assassin. Unfortunately, Travis has fallen to rank 51, and has to climb his way back up.
The basics remain relatively unchanged. You use a
lightsaber Beam Katana, to slice your way through armies of bad guys until you get to a boss fight, afterwards you move up in rank. While it may seem repetitive, it is actually kept quite fresh. The bosses each have their own unique, wild personalities. The battles tend to be hack and slash, but are varied with a battle on a motorcycle, fighting as different characters, a royal rumble, and even a giant robot battle a la Gundam. The final boss fight is over the top and hilarious, as the final boss takes on different, more powerful, and more ridiculous forms. Clearly this is meant to be a joke on the typical final boss who has multiple forms.
The humor in No More Heroes 2 is half the fun. This series continues to be self-aware, makes fun of cliches in other game genres (Such as poking fun at the stealth genre, like Metal Gear Solid), and breaks the fourth wall by referencing itself as a video game (By telling you to “Take A Giant Save.” Saving involves Travis taking a shit.) The greatest highlight of the original game, its humor and strong writing, makes a great comeback, and does not disappoint.
The play style was upgraded as well. Travis has a few new moves such as being able to roll in different directions to evade attacks. Driving around the city has been replaced by a map where you can point and click where you want to go. You no longer need to raise money in order to proceed to the next battle in the storyline. You can switch weapons in the middle of a battle instead of having to return home to swap them around. Travis also now has the ability to dual-wield weapons, which is a blast. Also there is a fun new mini-game where you make your obese cat exercise to lose weight.
While, for the most part, everything was improved, I did have a couple of complaints. At first I thought it would be nice to not have to drive around the city looking for new locations and other shit. But I actually found myself missing it. I think they should have struck a balance between the two. They should have done something like Fallout 3. They could allow you to drive around the city on your motorcycle and once you’ve found a new location you can choose to fast-travel there later on if you desire. I feel like the driving helped to create a true world in the city of Santa Destroy, and helped the first game feel grander. That aspect is lost in the sequel. The first game allowed you to upgrade your weapons with longer lasting batteries. This game has no such option. I felt like it gave you an incentive to raise money through the mini-games, and now that aspect is lost as well.
The mini-games are still there, as well, but now changed to emulate the style of classic 8-bit video games. They can be a lot of fun if you are looking to waste time or get money to buy different stuff for Travis’ wardrobe. The mini-games have become infinitely more tolerable now that you aren’t forced to play them to get money to play the new levels like in the first game.
It’s a hell of a lot of fun to play as Travis Touchdown. Nothing is as satisfying as tearing through countless enemies, and hacking off limbs and heads and watching geysers of blood spurt into the air. This game series continues to be comical and pulpy and over the top. The fighting is fun, and will have you going back for more over and over again. Usually when I play a game it takes me forever to get through it. No More Heroes 2, however, had me hooked from start to finish, playing it with every free moment I had. If you are a fan of the first one, you shouldn’t miss the sequel. If you haven’t played the first one, you can still jump right in to this game and have a great time.
Get ready to take a giant save!