Violence, sex, things to see, things to collect, spectacular graphics and even better sound, a sense of humour, a sense of purpose, an insane logic running through every fiber - and enough swearing to get your TV banned by the authorities. Killer7 creator Suda51 is back, all right.
Our hero, Travis Touchdown, is a motel-dwelling, action figure-collecting, anime-obsessing gamer who wins a lightsaber in an online auction and sets off on a mission to become the world’s number one hitman so he can get the girls. From minute one, you’re cast into the thick of the action, where a whistle-stop cutscene brings you up to date on the story so far and a click of the A button drops you straight on the front doorstep of Hitman #10.
A quick tutorial shows you how to fight and the rest is up to you - the world’s greatest assassins guard themselves with legions of freaks who’ll do their best to slow you down, but they’re sword fodder to be chewed up and spat out before facing the assassins themselves, every one of them completely out of their mind.
When Travis saves, he saves on the toilet; when his batteries run low, he holds the handle at waist height and cranks on it until it fires back up; when love interest Sylvia bends over, he checks out her behind. He’s a simple man with a simple mission, and his world is infected with insanity - villains include British body-mod fetishist Death Metal; Virtual Boy-wearing Letz Shake; and Destroy Man, with his laser-firing crotch. They are, by far, gaming’s strangest bosses, and every one fights a very different fight.
Between carrying out the different assassinations, Travis is free to explore the GTA-styled city, earning the entrance fees he needs for his next fights. Look around and you’ll find a jagged-edged world and a framerate which favours hovering around the twenties once you hit high speeds on Travis’ bike, but the minor technical faults will be picked on by only the most joyless of non-gamers. No More Heroes makes no attempt to ape reality, and instead embraces all the things only a game can do, constantly using and tossing away new ideas as if innovation were cheap.
Never before have we played a game that felt so completely in love with being a game - text is rendered in an eighties pixellated font, your map’s a sloppy digital display, the whole HUD ripped from Grand Theft Auto without mercy or apology; the ten best assassins table is the high score chart from a 1984 coin-op and the pause menu is like a scene from Tron. Need money? Smash open a chest. Need to save? Head towards the big flashing ‘S’ icon. Where to go? Follow the giant exclamation mark. Where else could you slice through an army, pause the action and swing your remote to tear a man through his center? Where else could a click of the B button incapacitate your foes ready for a pro wrestling move? Where else could you pull off a horrifically violent fatality with an eBayed lightsaber?
No More Heroes is always true to its own perverse logic - always proud to be a videogame, always stealing liberally from the best of other genres, always loud and obnoxious. The mishmash of visual styles, music and the world’s most flamboyant dialogue has no comparison to anything else; it’s impossible to put the game in a box, except to say that it is unquestionably, undeniably, unequivocally No More Heroes, and you have never played anything like this before.
You’ve already showed your friends Super Mario Galaxy. It gave you the same feeling as when you saw Ridge Racer on the PSOne, or Super Mario 64 on N64, or Soul Calibur on the Dreamcast - games that you could stick on your TV and say “look - this is a brilliant, brilliant game.” Well, No More Heroes is another game like that; something that will awe people.
Anywhere else and No More Heroes would still be hatstand chicken-punching bonkers, but nowhere else would it be so entirely at home than on the console with the crazy split-in-two controller and the arm-flapping games. Like the Wii, none of it should work, but like the Wii, everything does. Brilliantly.
Jan 22, 2008