Red Steel 2 Review
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On 03/23/2010 at 11:52 PM by Nick DiMola
Red Steel 2 rights some of the wrongs of the first title, but certainly not all of them.
For Wii-only owners starving for a first-person shooter. Any other interested parties should consider renting before taking the plunge.
I remember the Wii launch as if it were yesterday. Waiting in line at a 24-hour Super Walmart in the freezing Rochester, NY cold for just over 22 hours. I remember grabbing my shiny new console, a copy of Twilight Princess, Excite Truck, and of course, Red Steel. How could I not grab those titles? The latest Zelda was a sure thing, Excite Truck was a blast at the demo stations, and Red Steel just looked awesome.
Shortly after getting home and popping the game into the system, I quickly realized just how not awesome it was. The game was plagued with issues. Between general glitches, to absolutely horrendous controls, Red Steel was essentially unplayable. Needless to say, this left somewhat of a bad taste in my mouth. So here we are today, and the Red Steel name has once again appeared, this time in a totally revamped sequel.
Red Steel 2 has absolutely no correlation with the original Red Steel, with the exception that both games feature both guns and sword fighting. Players take the role of the last Kusagari in, what seems to be, a futuristic Wild West town with major ancient Japanese influence.
After being dragged from the desert on the back of a motorcycle, players find themselves in the middle of a fight. The town has been taken over by the Jackals, a violent gang. Seemingly, Jackal attacks of this nature happen quite often, but people like yourself, a Kusagari are usually there to protect the people. As players push further into the story, they begin to learn that this was no ordinary Jackal attack, and that larger things are brewing.
As you might have ascertained, the story is pretty lame, and the voice acting and character dialog is not much better. Regardless, it provides an interesting backdrop to shooting and slicing-up some enemies.
While Red Steel 2 offers the same sword and gun combo seen in the last game, its implementation here is quite different. The last game forced players into an arena specifically to sword-fight at a given time. In Red Steel 2, players can draw their sword at any time they like, or conversely shoot enemies whenever. This change was most definitely needed, and makes for an overall better play experience. With the assistance of the Wii MotionPlus, the game's detection of sword slashes is far more accurate, contributing to the smoother control implementation.
Though the controls work well, there is a small learning curve, and over the course of the game, players continue to learn new sword techniques, which translate into more motion gestures to learn.
Graphically, Red Steel 2 is also impressive. Rather than trying for realism, to match the bizarre world they have created, the game offers Borderlands-esque cel-shading. These graphics do a great job of conveying the world, and look very sharp for a Wii game.
On nearly all fronts, Red Steel 2 offers a winning combination. However, the game really falls short in the most important department of them all: gameplay. The game is basically a non-stop barrage of the same two or three enemy types. Players are lead around an abandoned town by mission objectives, and in each open area they encounter, are assaulted by multiple enemies and locked into the space.
At first, this is not a huge issue as using the controls smoothly provides some excitement. But as the game trudges onward, this grows very tiring. After just an hour or so, I found myself growing bored of the experience. Things didn't improve much as I passed further hour markers.
While players learn new techniques constantly, it's almost always more effective to forcefully come after enemies and smash them with strong blows from your sword. They die quicker like this, and it's much easier than even bothering with your gun. Because your sword can block bullets, it's usually best to keep it out at all times. This holds especially true in the wide-open areas you typically battle in, as there is no cover to have an interesting firefight.
Your gun is tragically underpowered as well, and even though you can bulk it up with weapon upgrades, due to reasons already mentioned, it's practically worthless. Players can also buy new guns like the Johnnygun and Two-Barrel, but these are equally as undesirable to use, when the much more powerful sword is at your disposal.
After being treated to most modern first-person shooters, it's obvious that the designers of Red Steel 2 didn't really know how to organize effective fight scenes that evoke some anxiety and push players to develop a strategy to succeed. In most cases, they dump players in an open area and release around 5 enemies of varying strength for them to defeat.
This grows boring, especially when gunplay is such a minor part of the equation. Most of the time I found myself shooting things just so that I could break up the monotony, and open sealed boxes, of course.
Overall, Red Steel 2 is a real shame. It has all of the trappings of a solid game, but some very amateur execution. Wii owners might be satisfied with the experience, but it's unlikely that those who have played games like Modern Warfare 2 will see much reason to push on past a few hours with the game.