REVIEWS -- Red Steel 2 -- Wii
Red Steel revamped
by Lucas Stephens
Fun factor: Fun
Worth to: Buy/Rent
ĎRed Steel 2í is a vast improvement over its predecessor, but some design choices keep it from being a far better game.
In November of 2006, Nintendo launched their new console called the Wii. Among their launch line-up of games was Red Steel, a first-person action shooter that also included swordplay. It was a brilliant concept on paper, but its execution was bogged down by many flaws. Ubisoft has not only made a better game with its sequel, it has done so by completely reinventing it from the ground up. Red Steel 2 is so much more different than the first title that the two gamesí only similarity is their title.
A story of quiet heroes and tumbleweed
You play as a nameless member of the Kusagari clan, a clan of protectors that have been mercilessly slaughtered. Now you are the only one left. The game begins by a Jackal dragging you across the desert on his motorcycle. You eventually break free, obtain a sword, and then start your journey for revenge, slashing whatever is in front of you and shooting whatever your katana canít reach.
Itís rather hard to care about the story, because thereís really not that much to it. Honestly, the entire game is about finding out who killed your clansmen and extracting revenge. You run across only three friendlies who keep communication with you via radio, but aside from that, the gameís very dry when it comes to character development. You are barely even given any back story of yourself, not to mention that you hardly speak. This makes it pretty hard to get attached to your own character.
The layout of the game is pretty formulaic. You start off in a modern-style western town and can explore in just about every direction you want. Eventually, You will come across the Sheriffís station or the dojo. At these places, you can purchase weapon upgrades and learn new moves, as well as check the bulletin board to accept missions. The majority of these missions are nothing more than ďfind three/five/ten of these,Ē tacked on to your main story-related missions. After the main missions are completed, You will reach a ďpoint of no return,Ē which will let you go back and complete whatever you didnít finish. The game then gives you a linear path to the next area, where the entire process starts all over again.
The first Red Steel focused on gun combat, but itís evident that swordplay has taken center stage in the sequel. Thanks to the Wii Motion Plus, the Kusagariís sword slashes are represented more realistically by how you hold and swing your controller. You can slash in any direction as well as vary the force of your swings. Of course, aiming with the remote is just as intuitive as it has been in any other Wii shooting game.
The real joy in sword combat comes in the different special moves you can execute. You can dodge and counterattack, rush your opponent and jump in the air for a downward slash, and do a 360 degree swipe to catch everyone around you. There are many different ways to knock down or stun your enemies, and there are even special finisher moves to execute them. After stabbing enemies behind you in the chest, and running up to them, putting your gun under their chin and letting them have it, You will forget very quickly the mediocre gameplay of the first Red Steel.
Sadly, the gunplay just doesnít seem to be as fun. The problem is once the enemies become harder, they block and dodge far more often, and youíre pretty much forced to engage them in sword fighting or run the risk of being flanked. Shooting really only serves to stun enemies or shoot at objects in the distance. It would have been nice if there were other kinds of enemies you could engage with in firefights, but as it stands, youíre better off having more fun killing them with your sword.
Red always looks better in cel-shading
The biggest issue with this game is the repetitiveness of bashing objects for money. Thereís simply no way of obtaining enough money to purchase all the weapons, upgrades and moves by the end of the game unless you spend extra time destroying every barrel, crate and chair (yes, as in furniture). You receive a lot of money from missions, killing enemies (and you can increase the money more by obtaining multipliers by using finishers), and finding tokens, but it just isnít enough. All this mindless object bashing just seems like an artificial way to pad the gameís length.
There are other issues. For one, thereís a rampant collision detection problem throughout the game. It doesnít really happen when fighting enemies, but it happens a lot with object bashing. There are also instances where enemies end up shooting through walls because their guns pass through them. Those are issues youíre supposed to catch through testing! Some battles can also be frustrating, because the Wii Motion Plus can easily get confused if youíre too wild with your swinging (see Wii Sports Resort).
The most noticeable change in Red Steel 2 is the graphics. Not only are they technically better, they have taken on a completely different look. The gameís given up its realism in exchange for a cel-shaded style. This helps the game not only look more stunning, but also allows the characters and objects to animate better, producing better special effects as well. Itís also rather impressive during cut-scenes. And speaking of cut-scenes, only one has you executing a QTE, which makes you wonder why none of the other cut-scenes had them. Still, the graphics arenít perfect, as there is some clipping in several places.
The audio has also been improved as well. Sound effects are much more lively in this installment. The swings of swords, and the clanging of metal sound deadlier. Gun fire and explosions sound louder. The voice acting is also resoundingly better. Although it still sounds corny in places, itís nowhere near as bad as the first gameís horrible Japanese accented voice acting. The gameís soundtrack is pretty decent, blending Western and Eastern themes together to great effect.
If something is too broke to be fixed, you start over, and thatís what has been done here with Red Steel 2. You will find a game that features the best sword fighting on the Wii, thanks to the stylish moves you can pull off. You will also enjoy crisp, new visuals. You may get tired of the monotonous missions and constant money farming, so donít expect to play this game in long sessions; itís perfect for quick bursts. A better structure, more variety in both missions and enemies, and a bit more fine tuning, and Red Steel 2 could have been the most improved sequel of this generation.
Developer: Ubisoft Paris
Release Date: March 23, 2010
Review Date: 27-05-2010
Numbers of Players: 1-4
Players Online: No
Notes: 480p Support, Wii MotionPlus Support
The sequel opted for the less realistic cel-shaded graphics, but as weíve seen many times on the Wii, thatís an advantage. The game now has better animation and effects. Clipping issues and rampant collision detection problems stain the otherwise solid graphics.
The Wii Motion Plus shows what it can do with the game focusing more on sword fighting. Itís too bad gunplay is pretty useless, as itís only used while stunning enemies and destroying objects. Farming for gold can get very repetitive and swinging too wildly can confuse the controls.
The main character is silent and has virtually no back story to help players get attached, which isnít surprising because the story is virtually nonexistent to begin with.
The voice acting is leagues above its predecessor but itís not used enough, a symptom of the gameís lack of character development. Sound effects are much more lively. The gameís soundtrack is pretty decent, blending Western and Eastern themes together to great effect.
Red Steel 2 is designed to be played in short bursts due to repetitiveness. And like with all repetitive games, coming back for seconds once the main campaign is over isnít as appealing.