“Heroes often fail”

Role-playing survival game is willing to take risks

Last week I picked up No More Heroes 2 for the Wii, I found the first one to be an interesting, flawed and mature experience for the Wii. Playing NMH2 however I couldn’t help but feel disappointed with the game. Michael Abbott over at The Brainy Gamer has already talked about NMH2. My thoughts on the game mirror his and for this entry I’m going to expand on his look at the game.

Going down a checklist for what NMH2 does compared to NMH1, it is a better game than the first one. A lot of the “fat” in NMH1 has been trimmed down leaving the player with the two main game mechanics: side jobs and killing. The game has also gotten higher reviews compared to the first one so why do some of us feel disappointed by it? One trait of Suda 51’s games is a unique style, Killer 7 had gallons of it and so did NMH 1. For NMH 2 it feels that his style was included in the fat that was trimmed.

In NMH 1 there was always a buildup before the ranked fights, first you get the title introduction at the start, then run through a level and finally the meet and greet with the assassin. What this did was show how different each boss was both in stage and in fight. In NMH 2 I don’t get the same feel, I show up run through about 2 rooms then fight the person. Yes, while each assassin is completely different in terms of attacking ability, however when the same tactics work for every fight then that first point is moot. There are a few exceptions to this which I won’t say for spoiler’s sake however, but the bosses in NMH 1 seemed to have more to go with them. Improving Travis has also been cut down, in NMH 1 you could buy new clothes, buy upgrades to Travis stats and weapons as well as finding upgrade balls that can be traded for upgrades. In NMH 2 you have clothes, 2 beam sabers to buy and 2 stat mini games and you’re done. This makes NMH 2 seem dumb downed compared to the first one and in my opinion fails to live up as a sequel. Last night I rented Assassin’s Creed 2 which is not only a great game but also does what a sequel should do.

I bought AS 1 a few months ago and played it for about 5 hours and then shelved it. I thought it was a good idea but very unrefined which is why I rented AS 2. After spending 5 hours with it I’ve decided even if I finish it to buy the game once it goes on sale to at least show some support to the developers, it’s just that good. I find it interesting to compare both NMH 2 and AS 2, both are sequels to games that in my opinion were not all that refined. What AS 2 did was that it took what worked (exploration, agile character and killing) and refined it while removing what didn’t work (repetitive missions, useless item hunts). Not only that but it added in new features as well (villa, codex, glyphs). Now if we look at NMH 2, all it did was refine the game and removed what didn’t work (although you could say that was up to your interpretation of the game). Nothing new was added to enhance the experience which left us with a better game, but a worse sequel.

Both games show the different paths a sequel can take from the original and its funny how my views of each series have been reverse from the start. At this point I can’t wait for AS 3, but I’m now leery of NMH 3.