It’s not often that a game that receives such criticism and disappointment gets a second chance. When Ubisoft released Red Steel at the launch of Nintendo’s motion-controlled consoles expectations were high. The idea of combining swordplay and shooting action with the control in your hands was definitely intriguing. Unfortunately the lack of experience and some bland mission design really made the original game feel underwhelming and downright disappointing. Fast-forward to today and the team get a chance to redeem themselves with a sequel that share only the name with the original. Red Steel 2 is more or less what the initial vision of the game was meant to be, as opposed to a straight-up sequel.
Anyone who played the original game will notice the difference right out of the gate. Instead of the serious look and feel of the original game, Red Steel 2 take you out of the Yakuza-controlled city into a wild west of sword-slashing cowboys. You begin the game tied to the back of a motorcycle in a sequence that can only be described as unique. From here you slowly take on missions and meet new characters that are more in line with over-the-top comic book characters as opposed to the serious style of the original. The style actually works better and the cast of characters keep the surprisingly lengthy adventure from becoming too drab for just about anyone.
Of course the main draw with this title though is the swordplay and use of Wii Motion Plus. Now before everyone goes off thinking this is the true one-to-one simulator you need to understand that while cool in concept, this idea would make for a terrible game. There has to be some hand-holding or else most of us would simply flail our arms around in a frenzy never hitting anything. With that said the controls of Red Steel 2 are about as accurate as anything on the Wii outside of Nintendo’s own Wii Sports Resort. As with most FPS games on the Wii you will be moving around using the nunchuk analog stick and doing most combat and aiming with the Wii remote. The setup should feel familiar to anyone who has played a game of this type on the console.
Red Steel 2 makes it unique by combining being able to utilize two weapons at will, and with great ease and precision. When you first get into the game you are introduced to the shooting mechanics which are identical to other Wii titles. Once the sword is introduced the game will force you to complete several training exercises to learn the different gestures to perform moves. As I mentioned the game will recognize nearly every movement of the sword in your hand, but action are performed as canned animations once the motion is triggered. It does however; adjust to how hard you swing the remote. Harder attacks will actually be required later in the game on tougher enemies, and the sensitivity of how the remote registers can be adjusted within the options menu.
The game also has a plethora of moves, and they serve as your incentive to progress through the game. The further you go the more complex moves and finishers you will acquire. Some of these finishing moves, which can be performed when you get your enemies in various downed positions, are quite gruesome and really push the Teen rating slapped on the box. In fact I was actually surprised to learn the game was rated that low after playing the first couple of hours. Learning new moves comes with the repetitious combat training, but in the end you will appreciate it as it really does help in showing you the importance of things such as pulling your arm back and knowing the motions for each particular move.
Everything in Red Steel 2 is very intuitive and easy to perform, and you can really tell that the developers worked extremely hard to make the game as accessible as possible. You can parry and block attacks by simply holding the A button and moving the sword into position. You can switch between guns and swords with relative ease, and the camera constantly stays locked onto the action. It is always nice when a game caters the strengths of a console rather than punishing the gamer for them. There was never a time where I felt shoehorned by the control scheme, and I constantly felt like a badass; which is exactly how a sword-wielding guy with a cowboy hat should feel.
The experience in Red Steel 2 is about as linear as you can get. Every mission starts off with giant arrows showing you the direction to go, and outside of a few side missions there isn’t much outside of the beaten path. Still with a solid ten hours of story to plow through this is probably a good thing. Swinging your arm around performing moves means that most gamers will only play the game in short sessions, and without a multi-player component to speak of, the game feels just about the right length.
Visually speaking this is easily one of the best looking Wii games currently available thanks to the fantastic art style. I love the direction the team went with the characters and environments, and everything just feels so much fun to play around in. The voice work is cheesy in that Just Cause 2 kind of good way and the music is outstanding. Hearing some of the tracks within the areas really define what a great score can provide. Everything about the presentation of the game screams quality and really goes a long way to further engulf you in the experience that is Red Steel 2.
Consider the developers behind this redeemed as far as their ideas are concerned. Red Steel 2 is everything the original game was meant to be and so much more. The concept was just a bit too ahead of its time and I am glad they got a second chance to make things right. If you own a Wii and have been looking for a reason to dust it off, this is your game. It combines all the great ideas the console offers without too many gimmicks thrown in for good measure. The visuals are appealing, the controls are solid and the music is engaging. Red Steel 2 is yet another great addition to the ultimate year of gaming that is 2010.
Review copy provided by publisher.