Red Steel 2 Review
An early title for the Wii, the original Red Steel was a sword-and-gun first-person shooter that meant to change the genre by offering up fresh and unique motion controls courtesy of Nintendo’s revolutionary system. However, the game didn’t come close to attaining this goal as control issues and generally disappointing gameplay made it one shooter that didn’t even come close to hitting the mark. However, Ubisoft went forward and soldiered on with the franchise, and is now launching the follow-up, Red Steel 2.
Ubisoft really went back to the drawing board for this title, taking Red Steel 2 to an entirely new setting with new characters, a new environment, and tons of new moves. Additionally the game supports Nintendo’s Wii Motionplus plug-in device, ensuring that the sword swinging and gun aiming will be as accurate as possible. While the game has a few issues that rear their heads, rest assured; this is a great improvement over the original and one of the best shooters you can find on the Wii.
To call the game a sequel would be something of a misnomer; this is actually more of a reboot. Red Steel 2 shares very little in common with the original game, outside of the combination of sword and gunplay. While the original game dealt with a Yakuza storyline set in modern times, Red Steel 2 features a fantastical samurai-western setting with futuristic elements, almost “steampunk” in a way. You play as a nameless figure who is the last of his clan of sword-wielding, gun-toting samurai types.
The game makes it extremely easy to figure out where you need to go next, and you shouldn’t ever be lost. The maps are laid out in a pretty linear fashion, and green arrows on your mini-map always tell you exactly where you should be headed next.
The mission structure is very linear. Missions are doled out from one of several centralized hubs, with a bulletin board that you check out in order to figure out where you need to be going next. The game will let you know when you need to go to a different central hub, guiding you back to it with the aforementioned green arrows. You’ll figure out your main quest missions this way, but also will get secondary quests. These are pretty standard fare, requiring you to search through the map and find trucks to blow up or communication towers to knock down, and are always laid out with a green arrow to let you know where to go.
The game gives off the guise that it’s a sandbox-style shooter by supplying central hubs where you get missions and upgrades, but it’s actually a very linear mission-based affair. At times, the game also feels like an on-rails affair, as you’ll simply be moving from one area to the next killing off bad guys and fighting the occasional boss battle. While the secondary missions serve to give you more to do, they are largely inconsequential to the plot and simply are there to net you more money to spend on upgrades and extra sword moves for your character.
Fortunately, the new sword mechanics are a blast to play and never let the combat feel dull or repetitious. You’re able to pull off a host of sweet moves, including area damage, airborne attacks, counters, and several more moves. As this is a Wii Motionplus game exclusively (one is required to play), you’ll have to do more than the standard waggle move in order to defeat your foes. The game plays differently from any Wii FPS before it, and there is a bit of a learning curve. Fortunately, each of the new moves you gain as you play gives you an ample tutorial to learn how to perform each one, even requiring you to perform each move three times before you can proceed. While this may be annoying to some players looking to quickly get back into the action, it definitely helps when it comes to learning the intricacies of combat.
Graphically, the game boasts a brand new cel-shaded art style, and looks fantastic. The environments are teeming with personality, and the east-meets-west setting is definitely compelling and fun to look at. The action also unfolds at a solid 60 frames per second with virtually no slow down, making for a smooth and engaging experience. All in all, this is one of the best looking games on the system.
The sound is also quite great. The music is a blend of spaghetti western themes and Japanese music, and adds a great level of ambiance to the gameplay. The voice acting is a little corny, but never gets in the way of the atmosphere.
Red Steel 2 is a sequel that outdoes its predecessor in just about every way. The gameplay is tight and addictive and the new setting is awesome and looks great. While we would’ve liked to have seen the environment open up a bit and feel less linear, this is still a fine, polished product and one of the best third-party games available for the Wii.
Review Scoring Details for Red Steel 2
The game uses the Wii Motionplus attachment to great effect, allowing you to perform a variety of special attacks, blocks, and counters with ease, as well as switch between guns and your sword with ease. The levels do tend to hold your hand a bit too much, and the campaign feels like an on-rails affair at times.
The art style in both the characters and environments looks fantastic, and the action unfolds at a smooth 60 frames per second with very few bouts of slowdown. The cel-shaded aesthetic is fantastic, representing not only one of its best uses, but also one of the best looking games on the Wii.
The game’s voice work is a bit on the cheesy side, but the sound effects are crisp and the music is excellent.
Offering a compelling new setting, interesting characters, and much improved gameplay, this game is leaps and bounds beyond its predecessor in every way.
Red Steel 2 is everything the original game should’ve been and more. While there are some lingering control issues and a linear feel, this is one of the best shooters you can find on the Wii.