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Critical Reception: Grasshopper Manufacture's No More Heroes 2

This week's Critical Reception examines online reaction to Grasshopper Manufacture's No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, described as "a decidedly lo-fi marriage between grime and prodigy."
This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Grasshopper Manufacturer's Wii action title No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, which reviews describe as "a decidedly lo-fi marriage between grime and prodigy." No More Heroes 2 currently earns a score of 90 out of 100 at Metacritic.com. GameSpy's Brian Altano gives No More Heroes 2 5 out of 5 stars. "Revisiting the deranged world of No More Heroes conjures mixed recollections," he describes. "It's kind of like reconnecting with an ex that you harbor equal parts fond and sordid memories of, and realizing your relationship is still phenomenally real -- especially now that you're barely expecting it. She changed her look, caught you off-guard with a new wardrobe, and is too busy cutting right to the chase to worry about your last indelibly rocky affair." Altano finds that No More Heroes 2 addresses many common complaints with its predecessor. "Gone are the banal side-missions that clogged the first game, replaced instead with interchangeably awesome micro-tributes to gaming's 8-bit glory days, in the form of NES-style 'jobs' that feel anything but laborious," he says. "We get an Outrun-inspired motorcycle pizza delivery race, a galactic trash-collector, a vermin-vacuuming game, and more -- all of which come complete with retro music, beeping-and-booping sound effects, and the clicks and wheezes of wacky NMH2 protagonist Travis Touchdown blowing into virtual cartridge slots to boot them up." "NMH2 carries with it a constant swagger, a decidedly lo-fi marriage between grime and prodigy," Altano says. "It's one of the best-paced games I've ever experienced, stringing together hilariously over-the-top 'oh crap!' moments from beginning to end." Mikel Reparaz at Games Radar scores No More Heroes 2 at 9 out of 10. "It's hard to pin down exactly what makes No More Heroes so damned appealing," he writes. "The combat's fairly simple and repetitive, the protagonist's a filthy, selfish idiot who's always on the toilet, and the plot concerns an association for assassins who apparently have nothing better to do than constantly duel each other to see who's best. "By all rights it should be terrible, but its unique combination of slick cartoon visuals, clever controls, deadpan goofiness, teasing sexuality and over-the-top, cult-film-inspired ultraviolence instead make it one of the best games on the Wii." Reparaz praises No More Heroes 2's boss fights in particular. "The assassins themselves vary wildly, and fighting them is easily the highlight of the game," he writes. "They all require unique strategies, nearly all of them are rivetingly chatty and they include weirdoes like a money-obsessed sharpshooter, a singing gothic-Lolita sniper, a floating Cosmonaut backed up by a laser satellite, and a cloyingly psychotic little anime girl." Though the game's pacing suffers near its conclusion, Reparaz assures that players will find a lot to like otherwise. "Toward the end of the game, money gets scarcer, some of the levels turn into long, dull slogs against tough enemies and a couple of the bosses have fantastically cheap ways to kill you," he warns. "Up until then, though, it's one of the most relentlessly entertaining games to surface so far this year, and it easily earns its place as one of the best on the Wii." GameSpot's Lark Anderson rates No More Heroes 2 at 8.5 out of 10. "Like its predecessor, No More Heroes, Desperate Struggle deals with one man's rise to the top of an assassin leaderboard and focuses on his insane battles with a kooky cast of villains," he notes. "However, it does so in a much more streamlined manner -- the Grand Theft Auto-like open world and the ranked battle entrance fees have been removed, eliminating almost all of the tedium that plagued No More Heroes. "With a raucously fun and brutal beat-'em-up combat system, a collection of enjoyable retro minigames, and a thoroughly entertaining story, No More Heroes 2 is a worthy follow-up to one of the most entertaining bloodbaths to be found on the Nintendo Wii." Anderson finds that No More Heroes 2's control scheme makes effective use of the Wii Remote. "If the idea of wielding a sword in a Wii game conjures uncomfortable thoughts of nonstop controller waggling, rest assured that this is not the case," he says. "Travis swings his totally-not-a-lightsaber at a press of the A button, and after you've sufficiently weakened an enemy, you can split him in twain -- causing a morbidly amusing cloud of blood and dollar bills to rain down -- by swinging your controller in the direction indicated onscreen." The combat system benefits from a selection of additions and improvements. "You can manually activate a new hyperspeed attack mode whenever you top off your ecstasy gauge, which fills as you dish out pain and empties as you receive it," Anderson writes. "Other changes include the ability to shake your remote when running for a slow-but-powerful slash, and the surprisingly effective option of using a Classic Controller to play through the entire game without motion controls." "Despite a couple of key shortcomings, such as a poor camera system and a general lack of rival assassin characterization, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle is an overall improvement upon its predecessor," Anderson concludes. "Whether you're yearning for a fun and violent Wii action game or simply want to live out a secret Star Wars fantasy of duel-wielding laser swords, No More Heroes 2 is the game for you."

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