Red Steel 2 Review
A slashingly hackin’-n-head-choppin’ good time….
©2010 Alex Baldwin – Features Editor
Let’s cut to the chase: it’s about time the Wii got some third-party love.
I can count the number of good non-Nintendo Wii games on one hand, and Ubisoft’s Red Steel 2 has casually sauntered into that club, kicked off its boots and is now chugging down some beers with Boom Blox and De Blob.
Red Steel 2 is the ‘sequel’ to the first-person shooter / slasher launch title that provided a bit of variety alongside the glut of minigame collections, but failed to truly stand out. However, when I say ‘sequel’ I mean it in the same sense that Far Cry 2 was a sequel to Far Cry.
Basically the development team has seen fit to change the setting, the characters, the art style, the gameplay and pretty much everything. Oh, and it’s also one of the first games to require the MotionPlus add-on.
• How too play Red Steel – Dev Shows all
The first thing that’ll smack you in the face are the shiny new graphics, blending the style of Borderlands and Jet Set Radio Future into a wild western setting that somehow combines both historical and modern Japanese cities with a hint of Mad Max thrown in there for good measure.
Yep, they pretty much took whatever they deemed to be ‘awesome’ and mixed it all together into a surprisingly delicious mixture that stands out from anything else on the Wii.
And that’s not all. I’ve gotten used to blocky, jagged graphics on the Wii but Red Steel 2 manages to actually look great. And yes, I mean that inclusive of 360 and PS3 games.
The cell-shaded stylings seem to cut down the jaggies significantly to the point where I really didn’t notice I was playing in 480p, despite the resolution annoying me in other Wii games such as Metroid Prime 3.
Kudos to Ubisoft in demonstrating that the best way to utilize the limited power of the Wii isn’t to attempt to replicate HD console games but to try something that doesn’t require crazy polygon counts or shaders. Oh, and it all runs at 60fps. Sexy.
Red Steel 2 Hero Speed-art creation
As with the first game, Red Steel 2 combines both shooting and slashing from a first-person perspective that works much better than expected. Pointing the Wiimote at the screen displays an aiming crosshair, as is normal for Wii shooters.
Where it differs, however, is that rapidly slashing the controller in any direction immediately swings his sword. That’s right: you don’t even need to press a button, with the game quite accurately determining the difference in motion aiming and flailing around with the sword.
A lot of this is attributed to the MotionPlus accessory that adds a gyrometer to the Wiimote, measuring complex movements such as twisting and directional pointing far better than without. The effect of this shouldn’t be underestimated.
One of the annoyances I’ve had with previous Wii FPS games is that when your pointer goes off the edge of the screen your aiming stops or goes crazy until you’ve managed to get it back onscreen.
Not anymore: now that the MotionPlus can detect orientation, it’ll keep adjusting the aim as the gyrometer takes over if your crosshair leaves the viewing space and immediately knows when it’s back with nary a hitch in sight.
Much better, and prevents a lot of the frustration I’ve had with some other similar games. An intelligent auto-lock-on system helps in this respect too.
The swordplay mostly works as you’d like too. Swinging horizontal or vertical is smoother and accurate, and this time will use the actual angle of your swing. Lazy gamers may be annoyed to know that now the motion tracking is far more accurate, you really do need to do long, powerful swings to get the maximum damage in the game.
No more wrist-flicking for you! Easily-learned combos keep things fresh and dynamic, and finisher moves indicated by animated icons over stunned or wounded enemies’ heads indicate the motion required to finish off the fight quickly.
Unfortunately the sword accuracy is still not quite up to that of the Wii Sports Resort swordfighting minigames, mainly due to the slight lag between performing the action and seeing it onscreen. It’s nothing serious as you’ll soon get a good feel for it but it still shows there’s some room for improvement.
The frequent swordplay does mean that playing can get tiring after a while, so it’s best to take breaks every once in a while and thankfully the game’s frequent checkpoint saves and compact missions work well in this respect.
The missions themselves revolve mainly around either finding person X or object Y, pressing buttons, destroying Z, etc. While not very original in design the combat and visuals keep them interesting, and the bosses present a genuine challenge.
Cutscenes are also well-directed with some actually incorporating quick-time events in pre-rendered videos, an impressive feat that allows spectacles beyond the Wii’s hardware capabilities to still take place.
Upgrading your weapons with new moves that are genuinely useful can help in getting past a tough mission, but thankfully the game uses a recharging health system similar to Ninja Gaiden 2 where health will only be restored at the end of fights.
If there’s any justice in the world Red Steel 2 will sell like hotcakes and help convince third-party developers that there’s still life in Nintendo’s game-starved console yet.
Hopefully Red Steel 2 will also see ports to Sony’s Move and Microsoft’s Natal, with Move being the obvious choice but luckily the 3D camera-based format of Natal gives the possibility for add-on objects or controllers to be used with games. Swinging around a plastic katana and six-shooter? Yes please!
Would we steal this title for the 360 and Natal?
Steal It? YES!
©2010 Alex Baldwin
Filed under: 1st Party Titles, Console gaming, Wii News, Wii Reviews, Xbox 360, Xbox 360 News, Xbox Community Network Tagged: | Boom Blox, Borderlands, De Blob, Jet Set Radio Future, Microsoft Natal, motion plus, motion-sensing, MotionPlus, Move, Natal, nintendo, Nintendo wii, Red Steel 2, Sony Move, third party wii game, Ubisoft, Ubisoft Paris, Wii, Wii Sports Resort