• Sin & Punishment 2: Star Successor - Nintendo Wii review

    If you have any interest in shooters or action games and own a Wii, then Sin and Punishment 2 is essential. It's frantic, well designed and exciting from start to finish. In Europe it is called Successor of the Skies and in Japan it is called Successor of the Universe.
    Anyone that has tried Sin and Punishment on the Nintendo 64 will be right at home here - it's a 3rd person rail shooter, with the ability to move around the screen, evade attacks, and melee for close combat or returning projectiles. The plot covers multidimensional gods and monsters, allowing for wonderful and sometimes vast bosses, from the traditional cocky floating cloaked guy to a huge flying manta ray. The locations manage to cover pretty much every videogame staple including woods, underwater, city and space, but with a distinct style, showcasing what's possible on the Wii. Everything looks great both in terms of imagination realised and graphical quality. It all whizzes along very smoothly when appropriate too.
    Character selection offers the choice of either a boy or girl, both curiously young-looking, but in 'reality' they are both agents of opposing higher-being factions and so it's fine for them to be giving each other the eye throughout. A second player can join, but their avatar will not appear - only their crosshair. Each has a slightly different attack and lock-on capability and the online leaderboards reflect this by keeping them separate. If playing with the remote and nunchuck, then movement, including flying and invincible evade, is performed with the nunchuck and aim/shoot with the remote. This setup is easier to manage than it sounds, even with minimal movement and wrists resting on legs or seat, which is important because the playtime is extremely lengthy for the shooting genre, being measured in hours (~3), not minutes. You are guaranteed to get your money's worth.
    Treasure have pulled out all the stops to ensure the levels are packed full of enemies, both close and very far in the distance - there is a palpable depth to everything, with gunfire disappearing to infinity. Because of the 3D nature of the backgrounds, much of what you see is automatically avoided, but the background enemies fire at you so you need to dodge this. However, when something is nearby, tapping the fire button will swipe the blade of his gun or use her kick move for a close range attack. The same move can be used to more swiftly dispose of bosses if larger projectiles such as missiles or bombs are flying at you - aim the crosshair at the boss and a well timed swipe will send it on over for faster damage. Poor timing will result in your taking the damage though, so it's quite a skill to get it right when the screen is filled with stuff. The different attack methods and the need to constantly switch between them at the right moments makes for extremely exciting fights. With most of the action being avoidance and returning fire, and only the very occassional full-screen bullet hell, it's a refreshing change from most other shooters being pumped out at the moment.
    Underpinning the scoring is a simple multiplier; destroy anything and it goes up - get hit and it goes down. So do you get rid of the boss as quickly as possible to save as much of the multiplier painstakingly built up during the level, or do you hang on in there for the "nick of time" bonus, risking valuable multiplier points?! Additionally, staying dangerously on the ground (where possible) increases the score even if you are doing nothing! The scoring hooks work well together, being easy enough to think about at the same time as the maelstrom on screen.
    There are three difficulties and the easy mode will be perfect for most people until the controls have been mastered and the boss tactics have been learnt. Normal and Hard represent significant challenges. Infinite continues mean that anyone can at least see all of the sumptuous levels and the multitude of bosses, although score is reset each time. Some of the online scores are amazing. They are saved both per stage and overall, so even if you can nail a stage without continues and keeping the multiplier high, it's still a wonder how stage scores can get so high.
    The Japanese version does not have English speech as per the original, but the bonkers plot is no easier to understand in English, and short-but-sweet game-engine cut-scenes give a general idea of what is going on. There are some slight graphical differences between the two versions, but it is not clear if one is actually better than the other.

    The main levels are brilliant fun, picking off as much as you can to build the multiplier. The various sub and main boss rush phases have some of the best enemy designs ever seen. The locations are varied and interactive. The controls work. The graphics are tip-top. The shooting and swiping mechanics are truly great. The interface is simple and easy to follow even on the Japanese version. There is huge replay value with two characters and three difficulties. It remains faithful to the original whilst providing a fresh experience which is a neat trick. Even the box art is pretty cool. If you have a Wii and an interest in action games, you need this, because everything about it is spectacular.

    Score: 9/10

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