You know that warning screen preceding Wii games that recommends you fasten the wrist strap carefully before playing? Well I’d wager that I’m not alone in saying that I’ve never actually done it, not properly anyway. I just loosely stick my hand through the strap and grab the remote – I don’t recall ever coming close to letting the remote fly out of my hand and through the TV…
Trust me when I say that it’s wise to tighten the strap snugly around your wrist before playing Ubisoft’s Red Steel 2 as the action can get so frenetic it’s easy to get carried away. You have been warned. But feel free to email in your pictures if anything does get ‘out of hand’, pun intended.
The original Red Steel was a release title for the Wii and it’s fair to say that the game was rushed out in an attempt to show off the motion controller. Ahh who am I kidding? The game was utter crap. Which means that for the Red Steel franchise, the only way is up.
I’ll admit my expectations of Red Steel 2 couldn’t have been much lower, so imagine my surprise when I discovered one of the best looking games ever to grace the Wii accompanied by precision MotionPlus controls and totally engrossing gameplay. The Wii MotionPlus accessory is compulsory to play the game, so make sure that’s first on your shopping list.
Ubisoft have been very smart in realising that the Wii can’t do pretty ‘real’ graphics, so they’ve gone down the cell shaded path which the Wii does very well indeed. In fact Red Steel 2 comes very close to emulating Borderlands in terms of cell shaded graphical prowess and the similarities don’t end there. Some of the characters are remarkably similar and the futuristic Wild West theme also draws some parallels.
Before I get into the controls, it’s worth taking a look at Red Steel 2’s storyline… great, now that’s over with I’ll get back to the controls.
But seriously, the storyline is about as generic and forgettable as you can possibly get. Off the top of my head I could name at least a dozen games with a virtually identical plot. You are the last Kusagari, a lone gunslinger who is on a mission to avenge the killing of his people. Heard it all before? The plot is the last decade’s version of the ‘alien ships descending who must be shot at all costs’ plotline of 70’s & 80’s arcade games.
The game is also very linear in nature, there’s no free roaming but you are free to take on required tasks in any order you wish. Each area has a noticeboard with a selection of missions that need to be completed before you can move on. There are some optional side missions like tearing down Wanted Posters or finding hidden items that serve to fill your pockets with cash, which in turn is used to improve weapons and abilities at upgrade stations.
You start out the game with a gun and with this the game resembles the controls of other Wii shooters such as Dead Space, The Conduit and Metroid series. But it’s not until you start wielding your Kusagari Katana that the game comes into its own. With flicks of the wrist or swinging your arm in combination with button presses you can perform a remarkable number of different moves – and in the course of the whole game you will be required to learn and use them all. Moves can range from shoves and barges to any angle of slash, block and run-through and even more dynamic moves such as uppercuts that send your foe flying into the air while you leap up and smash him back down to earth again.
It’s really quite empowering to see your physical movements translated perfectly to the action on screen (even moreso than your average Wii game) and you can really get into it. With about 8 to 10 hours of slashing and shooting to be had, new moves and upgrades are well paced throughout the game and are significant enough to make you want to keep going to see what move is coming next. Just using the same combo every time is as fruitless as it would be in real life.
As a small break from the combat, there are some mini-games, if flicking switches and cracking safes can be called mini-games. They’re pretty boring and weren’t really necessary. Yes, we know what the Wii Controller is capable of, doesn’t mean we need it shoved down our throats in between slicing up enemies.
There’s also a whole heap of loading screens which involve an animation of an electronic door – think back to the first couple of Resident Evil games and you’ll get an idea.
Also there is no map. Well, not one that lets you see further than the immediate surroundings. You might get to know the area as you complete the missions, but if you’re looking for hidden items or Wanted Posters then you’re flying blind. A simple rudimentary map of the level would seem a logical thing to include, as in almost every other FPS ever made – but Ubisoft thought otherwise.
Sadly there is no multiplayer, and I don’t see why some local splitscreen type of swordplay couldn’t have been thrown in for fun, but the game certainly isn’t valued any less because of it.
If you thought first-person shooters couldn’t be done justice on the Wii (and I was in that boat) then Red Steel 2 will make you think again. It’s stunning on the eye and gets your blood pumping both with the onscreen action and the physicality required to play it.