The original Red Steel never lived up to the promise of the pre-release hype that surrounded it. It wasn’t an out and out bad game, or a broken one for that matter, it just never delivered on what had been promised. But the game still saw commercial success and became one of the top cheap nintendo wii games around, mostly down to being a launch title – and so a sequel was somewhat inevitable.
The problem this time is that Ubisoft have to convince gamers that they will deliver on what they promise. Having been hands on with Red Steel 2, playing a fair chunk of the game, it’s certainly safe to say that Ubisoft will certainly be delivering.
With Red Steel 2 Ubisoft went back to the drawing board, they looked at what worked and what didn’t. What they ended up with is a game that, aside from the the very basic sword and shooting mechanic, is totally different. The story, location, and characters are all new, this is the game that the first one should of been. Red Steel 2 places you into a kind of futuristic Wild West world with a bit of Mad Max chucked in for good measure. You take the roll of a nameless character, a shadowy yet heroic type – much like those played by Clint Eastwood during his many Western movies.
The game opens as you awaken in a heat shimmering desert, you realise that your hands are tied, and as your eyes clear you notice you’re also chained to the back of a motorbike. Not a great way to start any day! The bike’s engine roars to life as it’s rider begins to taunt and mock you. The biker opens up the throttle and the next thing you know you’re being dragged around the desert wasteland. This is the first moment that control is given to the player, twisting the Wii Remote to avoid rocks, cactus, barrels, and other debris laying around. It’s an exhilarating way to open a game and sets the scene for what is to follow.
It isn’t long before fire sets you free from your bindings and you can exact revenge on the bandit rider, sending him skyward in a huge exploding ball of flame. What follows next plays out as a tutorial, teaching you the basics of combat and navigating various obstacles. Ubisoft have made a design choice of mapping many of the action control functions to the Z trigger button – like jumping gaps, climbing walls and so on. It works very well, avoids complication, and keeps the action moving with no room for error.
Shooting has also been refined, again you can use that Z trigger to target enemies but then can also use the Wii Remote to refine your locked-on target to pull of some impressive headshots. Due to the game using Motionplus the sword play is infinitely better. Wielding a sword now feels much more natural and comfortable than it did in the first game. The sword can be swung in any direction and at various strengths. When facing an armoured enemy, a strong hard downward strike, followed buy a strong slash will break away the armour and allows you to exact that killing blow. When surrounded by enemies you will be alerted when one is about to attack from the side or rear. Hitting that Z trigger again will turn you to face the enemy and parry the attack. Incidentally, you can also parry attacks by hitting the A button and also do a quick dodge move to get around the back of your attacker.
Combat feels satisfying and the action on screen is very responsive to the controls. It certainly makes each fight an immersive one, and one in which you feel as if you’re fighting for your life at every moment. Even though the combat feels much more advanced than it did in the first game, it’s also instantly accessible. The combat controls have been implemented so well that it feels natural from the very first moment that you get a gun or sword in your hand. The only problem I had was that I found myself getting into it a bit much and after a while my arm was killing me from getting a bit sword-swing-happy!
The game has gone for a cell-shaded look this time around, and no matter how many games have used it, I still think it always manages to look impressive. The neon-Japanese culture twist to the Wild West settings works extremely well and sets the game apart from the crowed. During my time with the game it was smooth and always responsive, even during the more hectic moments of on-screen action. The only real question is, will as many of you buy the game after the average experience of the first?
The most important thing you need to remember here is that this is Red Steel in name only. It’s a massive improvement over the original with one of the best combat systems seen in a Wii game yet. Red Steel 2 has those same entertaining charms as Spaghetti Westerns and Mad Max movies do. The original game got the ball rolling for shooters on the Wii, this time around Ubisoft have set the standard on how it should be done. Don’t make the mistake of dismissing Red Steel 2 based on the experience of the first game.
CLICK HERE to order Red Steel 2 with Wii Motion Plus