REVIEW: Red Steel 2
Ok, so the Wii has been coming out with more and more really good titles lately than ever before. Last year turned out to be a great year for the Wii and this year is shaping up to be great for Nintendo's motion controlled platform as well. The playable demo of Red Steel 2 was really impressive at last year’s E3 but alas, although I wanted a lot more time with the game I was given a Red Steel 2 T-shirt and sent on my way. I now got a chance to play around with the final version of Red Steel 2 and here is what I found...
Red Steel 2 is a first-person shooter at heart but, much like the first Red Steel, it’s also a first-person sword fighting game. However unlike the original Red Steel, Red Steel 2 is extremely well polished. Aiming and shooting with the Wii MotionPlus equipped Wii Remote is a dream; there is far less trail time between your physical movement and the movement of the aiming reticule than in other Wii shooters which use the same aiming mechanic. Using the sword requires thinking quite literally instead of thinking by means of the traditional regular gaming status quo. Swinging the Wii Remote with the sword equipped is quite accurate and actually swings in the direction that you swing. For harder strikes in the game you’re going to have to swing harder in real life! Also, blocking oncoming melee attacks will require you to hold the Wii Remote at the proper angle. Thankfully, the game doesn’t “walk you by the hand” by giving you a prompt telling you which way to hold it. Instead, you have to see what kind of attack is coming and react accordingly.
The enemies are a heck of a challenge and it keeps getting harder as the game progresses. Expect to run into bosses that range in difficulty from cupcakes to beefcakes. As you progress through the game you will collect coins which can be redeemed to unlock new techniques. This keeps things pretty interesting as you will have to learn new techniques to take out stronger and better equipped enemies. The motion control is extremely accurate and above all the game is absolutely satisfying. Landing that sword / gun combo you want to do or pulling off a head shoot feels real good even though there is no blood. Also, the world is littered with destructible objects. You can break almost everything in the environments.
Voice acting is good for the most part but can get a little hokey at times. Thankfully, there is spoken dialogue throughout the whole game coming from both good NPCs and enemy NPCs. The music really shines. It’s catchy and memorable. It’s a good mix of Western and Oriental melodies. A perfect fit for the style of the game.
Art & Animation
Red Steel 2 set in a post-apocalyptic, western theme. Everything is cell-shaded with a slightly heavy black border around characters and props; kind of reminds me of Borderlands. The game holds tight at 60 frames per second throughout most of the gameplay. The art is gorgeous; characters are very well designed and even the props that are scattered around the world are often times decorated with what looks like Chinese design and calligraphy. The animations are probably the most glorious aspect of the whole game; during the FMVs characters will typically monologue while performing very believable and very powerful body language. It’s as if this is how someone would actually move when talking to you instead of that kind of body movement that we are accustomed to in video games. And it’s not just the body animations that are beautiful; the facial animations are gorgeous as well. For example, at the beginning of the game you are almost killed by a bad guy, a really big one. When his first attempt doesn’t work he then tackles you and tries to strangle you. While strangling you he says something and his facial animations not only communicate what he’s saying but also his whole attitude. His eyes widen, he smiles maniacally, he basically looks nuts and that’s exactly what I believe the developers were trying to communicate.
Red Steel 2 has a GameCube-ish, PS2-ish style to it. I’m not saying that it’s bad and I’m not saying it looks old either! No no, quite to the contrary. It has that same flair that good previous generation games have. It’s almost “retro”. It actually sparked up a little nostalgia in me.
The only issue I have with Red Steel 2 is that there is no multiplayer. It’s seems like a downright shame to think that such a well developed shooting mechanic, which would have faired brilliantly online, is not even utilized in local a multiplayer mode! Also… no Clint Eastwood. Even with the absence of multiplayer (and Clint Eastwood) I would go so far as to say that Red Steel 2 is an absolute must-have for Wii owners.