No-More-Heroes:-Heroes-Paradise---Playstation-3-review No More Heroes: Heroes Paradise - Playstation 3 review

   16/05/2011 at 10:35       Phil May       7 COMMENTS. - Score 3/5
 - No More Heroes: Heroes Paradise, Konami, Playstation 3, Travis Touchdown, Santa Destroy

In the real world, the singularly bloodthirsty soul known as Travis Touchdown would probably idle his days away mowing neighbourhood lawns or picking up coconuts, returning to his domicile in the evening to masturbate furiously to ecchi and hentai or watch wrestling videos.

In the alternative universe he inhabits though, he does all of those things AND kills people. A lot of people.

Via a twist of fate, Travis is a cold hearted killer kitted out with an impressive piece of technology known as the Beam Sword. In his first adventure on the Nintendo Wii, we familiarised ourselves with Travis' world and his struggle to climb to the top of the league table for the most deadly assassins living in the otherwise sleepy town of Santa Destroy.

On the surface, various visual changes have been made to No More Heroes to pep things up a bit for the PS3 audience. Textures have been given a dose of zingy zest, and the game seems to chug along a lot more smoothly. However it's certainly nowhere near on a par with modern sandbox games it shares its genre roots with, and looks dated. In fact for some reason the game heavily reminded me of Sega's Dreamcast game Headhunter in more ways than one

So it tears, it lacks anti aliasing but what remains is the core of the No More Heroes gameplay, and it's this gameplay that might just keep the title's head above water in a sea of similar games.

For starters, the beam sword gameplay has been tidied up a tad to factor in Move controller and Nunchuck support. Fighting with a Move-enabled system is satisfyingly similar to, though perhaps a little more accurate than the Wii version of the game.

Sadly like most Move titles, interaction with those bloody awful face buttons is required on far too many occasions and if Sony ever makes a design change to Move, or requires that its developers take on board lessons in how the controller is used, they'll do something about the Circle, Square, Triangle and X buttons and their horrible placement.

So after a bit of beam-sword swishing you might want to opt for the standard joypad controls for this one. In fact it will become essential as you get further into the game and realise that the assassins you'll be facing off against don't generally play fair, and have at their disposal a dizzying array of combos and avoidance tactics that will put Travis in the ground quicker than a spring bulb.

Once you've settled down with sixaxis control, you'll start to enjoy the game a lot more. Travis gets his teeth into the job at hand, moving up the assassin ranks from 11th to 1st with the promise of a rather sweet prize if he succeeds (I love No More Heroes' underlying current of sleaziness - very reminiscent of the slightly pervier tones in games like Bayonetta).

Glory doesn't come without a price though and Travis actually has to pay for the privilege of going into battle against higher ranked assassins and the price is pretty steep. Fortunately there's a huge amount of work for a down-at-heel multitasker like Travis. You can earn cash by doing mediocre jobs in and around town, or you can clean up Santa Destroy's seedier underbelly by entering spot-assassination tournaments or just knock off the local scumbags for a bit of back-pocket cash.

As well as a fantastic wardrobe of outlandish clobber, a sweet apartment filled with vinyl figures (and a cute little kitten), and the all important beam sword, Travis gets to motor around town on what can only be described as a cross between Commander Adama's Viper fighter and Judge Dredd's Lawmaster. Travis' bike, the "Schpeltiger" is quite something to behold - it handles like an unruly rottweiler but it does a good enough job of getting you from A to B. Don't expect realistic GTA-style physics in the handling model though, it looks sweet but it steers like a cow.

So far you're probably thinking No More Heroes sounds quirky but distinctly run of the mill and unpolished. It's certainly the latter (it's quite possible to end up stuck in walls, or to get the Schpeltiger stuck between lamposts and the kerb - and that's when the game's not completely locking your PS3 solid with unrecoverable system crashes) but it comes alive in the fighting.

You see, there's so much to the way fights pan out that it lifts what could've been a disastrous game into the big leagues of strategic combat.

In each case when Travis earns enough cash to enter the next stage of the assassin league table battle, you get to exercise your beam sword on a few hapless minions before the big showdown with whatever ranked number assassin you chose to take on.

Learning the various Beam Sword combat techniques is fairly easy (and there's a handy tutorial to get you up and running). Learning how to trigger combos, and use Travis' devastating array of secondary wrestling moves takes a little more practice.

Fights are like a cross between a rhythm action game and a traditional button-masher. Quick-time on-screen prompts must be pressed properly before they time out, in order to successfully trigger a particularly dazzling fighting move. In between, your trusty Beam Sword has a tendency to crap out and run out of juice just as things are getting busy, so you must recharge it (by holding the L1 button and vigorously shaking your Move / Sixaxis controller till it's charged again). Likewise you need to keep an eye on your heart-shaped health meter. If it runs down you'll end up right back at the last checkpoint (and checkpoints are rather nastily placed so be prepared to sit through annoying cut scenes or musical interludes if you fail a fight or a pre-fight sequence).

Right before a showdown though, Travis has the option to take a dump (save) and grab some last minute health and beam sword charges before entering into battle proper.

Most 'bosses' (the ranked assassins) are fairly easy to predict. Some are complete bastards though, and it's only by studying their fairly repetitive attack patterns that you'll learn exactly what you need to do to block, avoid and counter-attack in each situation.

If you fail, you'll end up having to play through the fight (and its accompanying cut scenes) again. If you win though, you'll gain fortune, glory and a step up the rank ladder (and a step near that sweet, sweet prize! Sylvia Kristel's pert little bangers, and absolute peach of an arse).

No More Heroes: Heroes' Paradise retains the homages to 8 bit gaming, and all the amusing little in-jokes and asides that went along with the original Wii versions.

Though the game's more or less a hybrid of the action seen in the original No More Heroes, it does feature the dream sequence fights and other elements we saw in the Wii's sequel (you know, the game that sold about 10 units worldwide and pretty much put the series in a hole until now).

By rights, I should hate this game to pieces but I can't bring myself to. Perhaps it's the complete daftness of it, perhaps it's the engaging central character who is basically a sodding dangerous nerd with an ego the size of Florida. Perhaps it's the plethora of bonus tasks to complete, things to collect or just stupid stuff to go and take a look at in Santa Drestroy. Or perhaps it's just the simple fact that for all its bugs, wrinkles and foibles it's bloody good fun to play just as it was back on the Wii.

Not a game for those of you looking for a showoff title to scrape back a bit of your PS3's tattered reputation, but certainly a game for those of you who are secret Otakus with a penchant for cartoon porn and wrestling videos.

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