OK so what do you do when you are the eleventh highest rated hitman in the world and you want to be number one? Simple, you eliminate the ten that are ranked above you. Of course its not going to be that simple, as each assassin is secure in their own compound or mansion, surrounded by sword wielding and pistol packing guards. And then there comes the task of engaging and eliminating the hitman himself or herself. Easier said than done amigo.
Normally I break these things up into departments starting with the plot. But if you read the above paragraph then I have already covered that. Yes that's the plot. Simple as simple can be and strangely familiar. If you have seen the Manga film, Afro Samurai or indeed played the game of the same name then you have already been through the plot of this one. He has to eliminate the assassins ranked above him in an orgy of blood letting and violence.
Like Afro, our 'hero', has guidance but not from an imaginary sidekick, but from a female that communicates too him via his cell phone. She goads or encourages him in his quest but does she have her own reasons for doing so? We shall leave that for you to discover for yourselves!
GRAPHICS: Cut scenes have a cell shaded look to them, giving it a comic book look rather than that of an anime. They are bright, colourful and have the detail that is necessary to cover the game. You have no high detail that you would have in say Splinter Cell Conviction, but a rudimentary style that to be frank, hardly pushes the PS3 at all. It captures the comic book style perfectly I suppose, but they do not make the jaw drop or the eyes pop.
CONTROLS: You have the option of either using the six axis or the Move Controller. Both are reasonably responsive, but aiming the player in the right direction without the use of the nunchuk style controller makes it a tad tricky as it doesn't always turn as smoothly as you would like when engaged by a group of enemies. There is a target lock that works quite well, it's engaged by a quick press of the L2 button. Whilst locked on use the other buttons to strike, and unleash a flurry of blows and literally leave the enemies in pieces on the floor. R1 blocks the incoming attacks and if you are quick enough, it may block the incoming bullets of those armed with guns. Yes heads will fly, torso's will be sliced in half at either waist height or from head too toe, and if you have the chance, you can grapple the opponent and take him down with a wrestling hold.
Engage a grapple, follow prompts and bang! there's a suplex or a DDT that will lay the smack-down on your foe. Keep an eye on the little cat emblem in the top right corner of the screen, when that gets agitated, you can unleash some cat related shenanigans, I will leave you to find out how that works for yourself. More wrestling moves can be unlocked by opening chests (or smashing them open) and collecting the Luchre Libra masks inside. Look out for batteries, these keep your sword charged up! It looks like a cross between a light sabre and a fluorescent light tube. Every attack will drain its power but it can be recharged by shaking the six axis!
MUSIC: A continuous chorus of guitar riffs and heavy bass lines from anonymous rock bands. Basically you are too busy slashing and hacking to really take notice of it.
PHYSICS: Movement is relatively smooth and objects break apart easily. Running and walking are smooth and the animations are nothing earth breaking but its sufficient for this title. Nothing revolutionary here.
Enemy A.I. is basic. Indeed you'll cut your way through the minions with ease and you'll think this is easy but then, and this is a BIG but, you come across the boss. Now the Boss should be tough, agreed. After all he or she has got where they have needed to be through experience and taking out the opposition, but even with the man ranked at number 10, he moves like greased lightning, can seemingly evade attacks at will and counter strike with blows that will send you flying and remove health like nobodies business. Melee attacks will stun him for a couple of seconds, and then you can lay into him but be ready to dodge his next attack. If you think it's going to get any easier then forget that in a hurry.
This just brought back memories of the frustration I had dealing with the bosses in games like Devil May Cry and Ninja Gaiden Black. They had me swearing and cussing under my breath and this is no exception to that rule. Even on easy, this game is a tough cookie indeed and is quite unforgiving. It will save before each boss fight which is great, but then comes the realisation that you are going to have to face the son of a gun again.. and again.. and again. Maybe I'm a bad player, I don't know, but this just seems to be an exercise in frustration, nothing more.
I eventually decided to save myself further frustration, and cramp in my fingers whilst mashing buttons, by switching it off and finding something else to play.
I'll be honest now. I have waded through the first three zones and have not been bothered enough to go through the rest. The story just does not engage, the game play is by turns, repetitive too the borders of monotony. The amount of flying body parts, expletives and general chaos offer no relief from what is I'm afraid a shallow title to say the least. I could feel my head beginning to droop and my eyes glaze over as I thought to myself, 'there's another seven levels of this to go? Please help me!'
This game is alas, one reason why so many people are against the Wii. The original games are exclusive to that console but seriously this one is not worthy of being shared with other machines. I am really struggling to find anything to say that shines anything of a positive light on this title.
I've been told when reviewing to be honest, so at the risk of offending the makers of this title I have to be frank with this one. This is a mess, a shambles, with a learning curve that frustrates to an incredible degree. It does not engage the brain in any way shape or form, and some button mashers CAN be fun, but this fails to hit the mark by some considerable degree. I have had this title for some time and it now lies at the bottom of a drawer and that's where it's going to stay. There's bad and then there's this.
Buy if you want, its your choice. Other titles in this series may be better but I have no desire to find this out for myself. You may enjoy this, it would be a boring world if we all liked the same games, movies, etc. but I would not urge anyone to buy this. Sorry but that's the bottom line as I see it.