Red Steel 2: review

When the Wii was first released we think everyone envisaged how great the Wii remote would be for controlling FPSs compared to a regular pad. Unfortunately there has been very little to get excited about. With most developers choosing to go down the on-rails shooter path, Ubisoft was one company who took a risk with the ambitious but distinctly average Red Steel. Thankfully, this sequel has nothing in common with the original bar the name, and the sword and gun gameplay.

This new game is set in what looks like a cross between the Wild West and the Far East, and is far removed from the original’s setting in modern Japan. Wanted posters and neon signs sit side by side in a stunningly attractive cel shaded world, that owes a lot to Ubisoft’s seriously neglected game XIII in art style, and the graphics are easily on a par with the more powerful 360 and PS3’s celshaded extravaganza Borderlands.

The Hero of the piece. Are you talking to me?!

The story has you cast as Hero, a cross between Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name and a Samurai, and you are out to seek revenge on the Jackals and your rival Katakara clan, who have stolen your powerful Katana sword, and who are responsible for killing everyone in your Kusagari clan, and leaving you for dead. In your fight for justice, you dish out punishment with your gun and Katana. The game is controlled with Wii Motionplus, and is incredibly intuitive, with you swinging your Katana with the remote. The harder you strike the more pain you inflict, and couch potatoes might struggle, as this game is as much of a workout as Wii Fit. All the moves are relatively easy to pull off, with a mixture of button presses and remote swinging to take care of the enemy menace. Further moves are unlocked when you train with your mentor Jian, and there are special moves that can be bought in various shops, and then learned from your very own Mr Miyagi.

The difficulty gradually increases as you venture through the game, and upgrading your moves is necessary to progress as it will be nigh – on impossible to get through the levels by just using your gun. You collect cash for finishing the main and various side missions, and also by destroying barrels, boxes or just about anything in the game. Someone’s obviously got a lot of cash to burn! You can also spend your money on upgrading your Katana and gun, or adding extra armour to protect you from heavily armed opponents.

Gunplay is great, but is not the main focus of the game.

At the start of the game you go between taking short missions of taking down a set number of enemies or destroying a number of Jackal trucks, to then learning a new move; and it does take a while for the game to hit its stride. But once it does there is nothing quite like it on the Wii. From you traversing a moving train filled with bad guys to taking on giant bosses in shanty towns, it really is an enjoyable romp. The game constantly encourages you to use different attacks and combos, with you switching from your gun to the Katana regularly, and this enhances the feeling of being a supreme master in your fighting technique. The only problem is the remote sometimes doesn’t register the move you are trying to pull off, which can be rather frustrating when surrounded by burly bad guys (although we think this is more to do with the remote itself rather than the game). Also anyone who expects true 1:1 control will be disappointed, as the game just mimics the moves that you are pulling off, which many will feel could have been done with just the regular remote.

Unfortunately once you start to progress the story, the game sadly ends all too quickly, taking around 8-10 hours to complete. There is also very little else to do outside of the missions and fighting, and the lack of multiplayer severely affects the game’s longevity. However, there is a challenge mode that gives you the ability, once you’ve unlocked them, to play through the game’s levels, and this rewards you with gold, silver or bronze medals depending on how much cash you earn during play. Also, the final boss battle against the head of Katakara, Shinjiro, is a tad underwhelming, and you can quite easily defeat him. We took only four attempts to take him down, which is quite disappointing considering all the build up about the powerful Katana of the Kusagari, and the promise of an epic encounter.

Your Katana is the most used weapon in the game, and has plenty of moves to keep things fresh.

With a bit more polish in certain areas, this could’ve been a classic, but it just falls short. The gameplay is exhilarating and well implemented, but the experience is just too short and has a few too many niggles that mark it down slightly. But for core gamers looking for something a bit more substantial than mini game collections to get into, there really is no excuse for not buying this game. Other developers should be ashamed of themselves, as this game shows how motion controls and the Wii can really be used, and that is to this game’s great credit.


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Written by Kevin M

I've been addicted to gaming since my parents bought an Atari console way back in the 70's. I progressed to the iconic Speccy, Amiga, and all the Playstation platforms. Having seen games evolve from single pixel bat and ball, to HD constructed environments, gaming has changed much from my early years. Having defeated the rock hard R-Type on the Speccy, the biggest challenge I've faced so far is putting up with the hordes of American teens spouting abuse in the current generation of consoles, noob indeed!

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