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Red Steel 2 Review

See PixlBit's Review Policies

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.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



Nick DiMola Director

03/26/2010 at 06:05 PM

I think Jason H. put it best: Don't bring a gun to a knifefight.

Seriously, this game was annoying because my gun was worthless. If they wanted to make it that way, they should've totally left it out. This created some seriously unvaried gameplay, which honestly drove me nuts. I've heard lots of people look past the flaws of this game due to the controls, but good controls tragically do not mean good gameplay, and this game demonstrates that perfectly.

Also wanted to clarify my reference to Modern Warfare 2. That game is a first person adventure similar to Red Steel 2, but it offers far better pacing and a much more interesting and varied experience. After playing something like that, it's hard to look at other first person games the same way. Modern Warfare 2 might be an extreme comparison, but it demonstrates clearly just how utterly average Red Steel 2 is.


03/26/2010 at 06:17 PM

This is a hybrid game that was gun play elements but is mostly about the sword. That is why the name of the game is called red steel. The guns you have in this game are equivalent to the knife in Resident evil 4. They are used as a sub weapon. If you want a FPS play something on the 360. But if you want a good game play this and hate on it because it is not like MW2.

Nick DiMola Director

03/26/2010 at 06:36 PM

At no point was I "hating" on this game. I'm merely pointing out its mediocrity. I don't want a carbon copy of Modern Warfare 2, but I do want an experience that is as engaging, thoughtful, and varied as Modern Warfare 2.

Red Steel 2 lacked balance in its weapons, therefore it actually is not a hybrid. Its intent is to be a hybrid, and given the overpowered swords, it nullifies usage of the guns. I'm not complaining that it's not an FPS, I'm complaining that they limited my moveset by gimping one of the main draws of the game.

If you enjoyed Red Steel 2, I'm absolutely ecstatic for you. By no means do I think the game is bad. Quite the contrary, it was a mix of great things and some not so great things. For me, that balanced out to a 3/5. Again, the comparison to Modern Warfare 2, was not to say that I wanted another MW2, it was to highlight just how great an adventure from the first person perspective could be.

I compared it to Modern Warfare 2 because I feel that game raised the bar for first person games. I could have easily compared it to Metroid Prime Trilogy, or another excellent first person game and my point would still be the same.

Jason Ross Senior Editor

03/26/2010 at 06:45 PM

I think people need to understand that 3/5 stars is above average, and we don't use a numerical system quite the same way. We're not saying the game earned a 6/10 or a 60%, because we think number grades on a 10 or 100 point scale are biased to school grades, where anything worse than 80% means it's average. That's not our system.

If you take a look at Nick's review, the biggest bone of contention is that the game is repetitive. It has great control, looks great, and everything seems perfect in concept, but the actual game, to him, felt very redundant.

Personally, without playing the game, I can't say whether I feel it's the same, but I definitely empathize, in that I've played many, many games that just feel repetitive, and in fact, games that do have that feeling generally are only average or slightly above average games.


03/26/2010 at 07:10 PM

Can't disagree more. You say the game is repetitive and has the same enemy type over and over and then you compare it to the Modern Warfare series? Really? How many enemies types does that game have, two?

The sword fighting is a lot of fun, funner and more varied than the melee combat of a God of War or Ninja Gaiden in my opinion.

Arrrgh Blarrgh.

Nick DiMola Director

03/26/2010 at 07:14 PM

The enemy types are barely the complaint. It's more how you deal with them. In this case, you rush at them, strong attack and kill them with a few quick blows. This quickly grew repetitive for me.

I appreciate your opinion, but again, the comparison to Modern Warfare 2 was within the variety of the gameplay as a whole. There was a lot more than just walking into an area and shooting people. Players needed to use different techniques and strategies to conquer the varying terrain. In many cases, the objectives forced a change in gameplay.

Red Steel 2 never really did that, and honestly slashing with the sword grew quite boring for me fairly quickly, even though it worked nearly flawlessly.

Lukasz Balicki Staff Alumnus

03/26/2010 at 07:53 PM

That's a shame that it gets dull fast. I might buy it when it hits 19.99.


03/26/2010 at 08:37 PM

What a bunch of graphics whore and fanboyism!

1080,720p bitches" here going to compare Modern Warfare 2 to Red STeel 2? An FPSto an action game? WHAT?!

That is a bunch of bullshit.

What game tell me what game you can play with this level or interactivity and control?

What you 15 button Xbox360/ps3/clunky "1000" key keyboard and mouce PC sitting and steering at the screen like a zombie and flicking two thumsticks/pressign random keys/clicking some mouse on a flat surface anf letting 1080p visuals burn in your retina can do to compare with such an experience as this?

Is that what makes games games? HD and what is available now?

"Real" games? So then All previous gen was total crap then if HD and all that suff is what games have to be for you to praise them then you are missing the point!

Enter NATAL(360) and Sony Move(PS3) and HARDCORE games for those for you to praise to the top of mountains about the motion controls and the HD....but review a Wii game and make some stupid excuse by comparing it to a game that is not in its direct genre and already it can be seen what you are trying to do. Not giving the game a fair review.

As soon as a good game comes on Wii that disproves the bullshit flying out there in you so called "hardcore gamers" heads here come the stupid excuses and pointeless comparisons! A comparison which is pointless as it is to a game which is NOT in the exact same genre AND does not have this level of interactivity and control with Wii Motion+.

What else can I say but there are still shallow gamers out there who think gaming WAS MADE by HD resolution and all that that the HD brought.

Shallow gamers. Why do you even play games? You obviously have forgotten why they exist. Fun.

Red Steel 2 with Wii motion plus level of precise interactive sword and gun play is like NOTHING EVER.

That you cannot take away from the game barring your opinions which you can have but that doesn't mean they are always correct or even relevant! and that Sony and Microsoft will aspire to copy or take off of.

So there.


03/26/2010 at 08:42 PM

I meant staring* by the way and I don't even care about any over typos right now. Just sick of the kind of ridiculous opinions people can hatch against a Wii game.

Nick DiMola Director

03/26/2010 at 08:45 PM


Alright, let's step back for a minute here. Did you read the review? The two greatest parts of Red Steel 2 are the controls and the graphics, the two things you accuse me of hating.

While the controls may have made the game for you, they did not for me. You perhaps should read the previous comments to better understand the comparison to Modern Warfare 2. Not sure how they aren't in the same genre, but sure I'll give you that. At the end of the day, they are both action games, but one has more variety than the other. Would you prefer I supplant Modern Warfare 2 with Metroid Prime? The comparison would still be the same.

And just to reiterate this one final time, 3/5 stars does not mean this is a horrible game. It means it's a decent game, but nothing special. That's my opinion of it, no one is asking you to agree with it.

Oh yeah, and the fanboyism complaint, I don't even know what to say about that one. I'm a massive Nintendo fan, and the Wii is my favorite console this generation. I've written countless opinion pieces on why it's such a great system and why I love it so much. Just because I felt one game on Wii is not as good as a game on another system doesn't mean I hate the Wii, that's ridiculous.


03/26/2010 at 08:53 PM

Hello, I registered just to say thanks for a honest and good Red Steel 2 review (at last, I read things these days about the game that I was starting to wonder if I played the same game other people played -__-' ).

I'm a Wii owner and Nintendo fan, but I didn't enjoyed it a bit, still some people got angry at me for my opinion even when I explained it in details, and I was starting to think that the gaming world was going crazy, or that maybe I'm just a Nintendo fan while the people I talked with are fanBOYS. :P

Anyway, I think this review nailed down almost perfectly this game main problem, the shallow, boring and repetitive gameplay. Also, this phrases is really meaningful:

"For Wii-only owners starving for a first-person shooter."

Even if I disagree on the shooter part (RS2 is an action game more than a shooter), the "starving" part is spot on.

I get the impression that people WANT to like this game, more than actually liking it.

Also, I can't understand how people that normally play games of such quality like the Prime trilogy, Mario platforms and most Nintendo titles, or gamers in general who like good games can really find funny a boring game like RS2.

If someone is interested, I can extensively explain why I don't like this game even if it works for what it does, just ask.

At any case, I want to thank the reviewer for, well, making sense. I was starting to think I was crazy since I didn't like this game, but maybe that's not the case. It's just a matter of personal standards, I guess. ;)

Nick DiMola Director

03/26/2010 at 08:58 PM

Welcome to the site, Sariachan!

I'm glad to hear you liked the review, I was starting to wonder if I might be crazy myself. Anyway, my intent was not to offend people, I just wanted to voice my honest opinion.

Anyway, I hope you stick around, and enjoy some of the other content we offer!

Jason Ross Senior Editor

03/26/2010 at 09:04 PM

I think that perhaps some readers may want to check out our track record on Wii reviews before they claim there's a bit of bias, as well. Out of our last 25 reviews we've published, believe it or not, eight have been four-star or higher Wii exclusives. Earning four stars here at PixlBit is not an easy task, and it's something I think any developer should be proud to achieve. I've linked to our reviews of these games below, but if you want to see more of our history, it's all available on the site. Go and take a look, but understand that just because you don't agree with one review, and just because we reference games on all platforms, does not mean inherent bias against any specific platform. Like I said, check us out before you formulate that opinion.

Marble Saga: Kororinpa

Zangeki No Reginleiv

The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces

Endless Ocean: Blue World

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle

Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles

No More Heroes

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars


03/26/2010 at 09:15 PM

Let's be honest here... Despite what Nick thinks of the game it is still receiving very warm and positive reviews from across the board, earning a 8.8 average at Metacritic, which is an improvement over what the original Red Steel got. So even if Nick confesses that his hatred of the game is so big that he uses it as toilet paper every chance he gets it still won't change the universal perception that Red Steel 2 is one of the best games on Wii. So there's nothing to worry about regardless of what Nick says.

Nick DiMola Director

03/26/2010 at 10:18 PM

That's the absolute truth. Like I said, I don't hate it, I just don't think it's anywhere near one of the best games on Wii. If no one trusts my opinion, that's cool, doesn't mean that I'm going to stop sharing it, and it doesn't mean that I'll ever change it for anyone.

I'm glad the game is earning so much love from the Nintendo community, maybe it will bolster sales, and as a result other players will get into the Wii market. Competition is a good thing, and the more players means more games, and better games at that. So yeah, rock on Red Steel 2, just stay out of my Wii.


03/27/2010 at 08:32 AM

Nick, your review is probably the most balanced and honest I've seen. But I'd like you develop one of your comments, please. You said, "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."

I'm one of the English-language voice actors for RS2. Personally, I feel (and felt) the same way as you do about the dialog. As another reviewer on the net said, it's cheesy, but it works for a "spaghetti western". What I would like to know is, do you really find the acting mediocre (at best) or is the problem really the script(and the direction)like most of the actors thought at the time.

I make my living at this and feedback is essential.

Nick DiMola Director

03/27/2010 at 09:16 AM

I'll gladly clear that up. Honestly, the problem was not with the voice actors, but more the dialog. With dialog as contrived as what was found here, it's probably unfair to judge the voice actors at all.

I think the story that was presented could've really provided for some good dialog, but clearly Ubisoft wasn't taking it all that seriously. Maybe that was the intent, maybe it wasn't, but I'm certain with the dialog in its current state, it's unlikely that anyone is going to give their best performance with it.

Keep on trucking WizOfStars76, I'd love to hear some of your other work, I'm sure with some better scripts your voice truly shines!


03/27/2010 at 09:47 AM

Thanks for you warm welcome, Nick. I'll stick around for sure, especially when searching for reviews. :)

I played and watched the game played in Italian, and that voice acting is really bad, but I don't know about the English one.

Anyway, I wonder if the good reviews are all honest ones, or if there is something behind it... you know what I mean. ;)

I heard of pressures on reviewers for a different Ubi game, after all, so I don't completely trust famous sites or magazines.

Anyway, in a scale of 10 I would give RS2 a 7: a game that works, but with a gameplay I don't like and other problems (and quite short, too).

For example, I didn't like much the controls, either, since the camera is linked to the sword movements and that can get confusing unless you always use lock-on.

Also, I didn't like that the gameplay is combo-based, I would have preferred a more intuitive and natural swordplay style, since mixing buttons and pre-definite gestures kills a bit the whole "motion control" appeal for me: instead, I loved Wii Spoerts Resort... it just feel more natural and accessible, but still deep in its way.

Finally, I didn't like how they mixed motion control actions with buttons-controlled ones: it's incoherent.

For example, of the 3-4 different type of doors in the game, only one you can open with a gesture, while for all the other ones you've to press the A button... and there are other things like this that disrupt the flow of the game and someway confuse the player, at least in my opinion.

Stanton Daries Contributing Writer

03/29/2010 at 03:12 PM

Everyone knows Nick is a Microsoft supporter. You can't hide it, just apply the x3 rule to his reviews, if it's not XBox times the stars by 3, if it is, divide by 3.

You know who else manipulated the Italians and Japanese Nick?

Jason Ross Senior Editor

03/29/2010 at 07:56 PM

^So that's how Tony Hawk: Ride managed 1.5 stars. Finally, it all makes sense.

Stanton Daries Contributing Writer

03/29/2010 at 10:00 PM

Well of course you throw in the attempt at duplicating the Wii as a counter. Anything that copies Nintendo is obviously lowering the standard that Microsoft and/or Sony have set in Nick's eyes and deserves the lowering.

Jason Ross Senior Editor

03/30/2010 at 12:09 AM

You know what? You're right. I just never thought of it that way.

Stanton Daries Contributing Writer

03/30/2010 at 07:49 AM

You know, it's not fun when you agree with the insanity. Feed the troll.

Stanton Daries Contributing Writer

04/14/2010 at 08:23 PM

At least one person supports you Nick, and he does it eloquently without pause.

Nick DiMola Director

04/14/2010 at 08:28 PM

Sweet, sweet redemption.

Our Take

Jason Hillhouse Contributing Writer

04/17/2010 at 01:42 PM

After playing this game in full, I really have to come to the conclusion that this game is nothing more than a competent FPS at best. At a total length of 5-6 hours, the game has nothing in the name of replay value other than a scoring mode that puts you through various chapters of the game again. I felt a bit ripped off to say the least.

In terms of game play, the title wasn't much of a challenge. I managed to plow my way through 80% of the enemies simply by head-shotting them into oblivion. The other 20% were so overpowered that my upgraded armor and health would be instantly destroyed, leaving only my normal health which seemed to nullify the reason I bought those upgrades to begin with.

The gun controls were great, but performing the correct button combinations and gestures for more advanced moves always proved a massive frustration that didn't accomplish what I had intended about half the time. Even after pulling off most of the advanced moves, the enemies were usually immune to their effects!

In a vacuum, Red Steel is certainly an engaging game that mixes up level layouts and enemies just enough to keep it from being tedious. But when you place it against all the other FPS titles on the market, most with multi-player and engaging challenge modes, you simply have much better choices to spend your money on (and for less than 50 dollars!). It all ends far too soon and with little else to spend your time on after it's done. My verdict: it's a rental.

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