No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle – hands-on

Few things deflate one’s sense of manhood like having your lightsaber run out of juice right when you’re about to cut some dude in half. Even worse: The process of “recharging” the wounded fellow is uncomfortably familiar. You just sort of grab it and shake it around until it’s ready for another go. Right. The super over-the-top absurdity and sexy gore-fest that made No More Heroes such a bizarre and crazy hit on Wii is clearly back in good form. Our hilarious, blood-soaked play session with No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle had us carving up goons, inadvertently pureeing scantily clad ladies, and making quasi-obscene gestures with the Wii Remote. And we’d expect nothing less.

Aside from not getting to roll in the hay with the seductively psychotic Sylvia, otaku protagonist Travis Touchdown’s bloody and irreverent quest to become the number one assassin in Santa Destroy, California eventually succeeded in the first game. Graphically filleting a throng of insane weirdoes also seems to have made more come crawling out of the woodwork looking for a piece of action, but sitting idle in his slaying duties for a few years puts Travis back at number 51 in assassin rankings. With Travis persuaded back into the fray, No More Heroes 2 dishes out another glorious round of freaky killers to violently dismember.

Getting our hands dirty, we recently spent some time kicking down the penthouse door of one of the game’s bosses and getting the party started all over the place. Within seconds, the tightly-controlled lightsaber katana action erupted in a spectacle of flying limbs as we dispatched suit-wearing thugs with our high-energy cutlery and painted the hallways red with their innards. Slicing parts of enemy henchmen away in large chunks is even more satisfying with the new dual-wield beam katanas. These smaller twin blades let you sculpt your adversaries in new macabre ways, though there are also old favorite moves to pull off like decapitations that shoot jets of blood and money flying towards the ceiling.

The original game’s parade of sword fodder leading up to the epic boss fights consisted of a bunch of standard cronies. Enemy AI has been improved this time around, and you’ll also face tougher henchmen types as well. After brawling and slicing for awhile, we tussled with a girthy, meat-fisted guy that made our previous opponents look like toothpicks. Of course, all of this was just an appetizer for the main course.

Battling our way to the pimped-out chamber of the boom box-wielding Jamaican assassin Nathan Copeland, we were treated to a hilarious cutscene that kicked off with an impromptu poetry reading and some charming banter before getting down to business. The guy inexplicably flung semi-clad members of his female entourage at us. Getting caught between our whirling blades, the ill-fated ladies were sheared into a fine red mist. Then the real fun began. Amidst the chaos, Copeland’s impressive boom box sporadically launched volleys of large missiles (risky business, considering we were inside an apartment). He also used it to trigger a bevy of traps littering his palatial abode, including laser turrets, moving carpets, and a deadly chandelier. This early taste for the slate of boss fight craziness coming down the pike was delicious.

There’s a lot more to No More Heroes 2 than new bosses and tighter combat though, including new playable characters, reams of clothing and outfit customization, side quests to tackle, and another screwed-up storyline to wrap your head around. Though we weren’t able to check any out in our demo time, we were psyched to learn all of the minigames are being presented in 8-bit style. The retro HUD interface has also been fancied up in the same old-school style. Thankfully, you won’t have to wait long to get your hands slick with the blood of fallen adversaries – No More Heroes 2 will drop kick us in the face next month.

Dec 14, 2009