(Wii)

Red Steel 2 (Wii)

Game Review

Red Steel 2 Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

Time to shoot and slice some bros

Ubisoft promised the sky for their Wii launch game Red Steel; since nobody had used the Remote before, plenty of gamers drank the kool-aid and had high hopes for its swordplay potential. The concept was interesting, but the execution left a gross aftertaste. It's telling that the idea was never emulated in the way that Excite Truck's motion controls were, not to mention the bajillion times Wii Sports was and continues to be cloned.

That was in 2006. A cursory glance at the calendar tells us it's now 2010, and the butt of our Remotes say that Wii motion control has been juiced up. Ubisoft is back for another stab at the idea with the fidelity boost in tow and the kool-aid is being passed around again, only this time it's quite tasty.

Red Steel 2 is a sequel in a similar vein as a mainline Final Fantasy game: tweaked mechanics in a whole new world. The "realistic" contemporary Japanese environment and Yakuza thugs have been swapped out in favour of the cel-shaded, east-meets-Wild West-buttered-in-French world of Caldera and its battling clans. You play as an outcast member of the Kusagari who returns to Caldera after five years only to find the place crawling with rival clans out for your blood and for your katana. Naturally, you don't plan on giving them either one.

What's great about the game is that it understands the Wii's limitations and builds on its strengths across the board, unlike the first go round where Ubisoft tried to push the console in untested directions. The new visual style allows for a strong caricatured melding of the two distinct cultures, a cocktail of Borderlands and Sukiyaki Western Django with a smattering of XIII mixed in for flavor. It's quite the looker in places, although a lot of the stages are fairly uninteresting courtyards and streets. The areas feel lifeless and hollow, and while the story explains why nobody is around the world doesn't feel like it's lived in; buildings may as well be painted wooden backdrops (and going by the Crate Review System this is possibly the worst game ever made). Things get a bit more varied towards the end, but you'll be slogging your way through quite a lot of similar-looking areas throughout the adventure.

The bland environments clearly aren't the focus here, for that honour belongs to combat. With the addition of the required MotionPlus, the controls skyrocket to the top of the heap in precision. The aiming cursor feels smoother than other Wii first-person games and, finally, lets you aim the pointer off the screen and continue to turn properly. Controls are customisable, with the bounding box size up to you as well as swing sensitivity. Which leads us to the star of the show: the katana. It isn't true 1:1 all the time, which really would have been unnecessary, but the added layer of fidelity essentially kills "waggle" dead.

Each strike now demands a deliberate and forceful motion on your part, and even if it's not true 1:1 all the time your movements feel satisfyingly translated into combat. A range of special moves and finishers are included to mix things up, with results so cool you'll want to master them all. This really is the sword fighting game that Wii owners have been waiting for since the console launched in 2006. Switching between your katana and your guns is as instantaneous as pulling the trigger or swinging the Remote, and the combo system encourages using the whole range of weapons and attacks. Clearing a room full of gunners, ninjas and burly masked dudes with miniguns by flinging them into the air, launching jump strikes, parrying attacks and finishing them off with a close-up blast to the head or katana through the chest, frankly, makes you feel like a badass.

Another contributor to that feeling is the excellent sound. Guns have a nice loud boom to them and the voice acting is, well, cheesy, but it's a Western so it's kind of appropriate. The soundtrack is top notch, mixing Japanese sounds with the spaghetti West in a way that gets the heart pumping when faced with a troop of two or 20 attackers. Ennio Morricone would be proud.

Missions are doled out via bounty boards and the people you work with, with each stage having around a half-dozen main missions and a handful on the side. Each is fairly basic, essentially sending you to either go somewhere and kill rival clansmen or hitting a switch of some sorts, where optional side jobs ask you to destroy things like wanted posters or find X amount of things. The minimap tells you exactly where to go for the main missions, but there's no way to switch focus to a side job and get help finding where those posters are. It may not sound so bad, but when you're looking for small brown posters in a dusty Western town it can be pretty tough. And while the map switches to show the area you're in, there's no way to look at the full stage map to see where you might be missing something; completing side missions comes down to both luck and overly intense searching.

We did come across a few glitches of varying nasty as we sliced our way through to the end. Every so often a crate or other fixture would disappear from sight from certain angles, and we got stuck in doors on more than one occasion. Sometimes enemies froze in place during battle and at one point failed to spawn, making us quit to the menu and restart from a checkpoint bizarrely after that fight. We also experienced a console-locking glitch during a brawl, but after unplugging the power cord and restarting the game that section flowed smoothly. The checkpoint system is good enough so that we didn't have to spend more than a minute getting back to where we were, and you may be lucky enough to not experience a console lock, but we feel these things should be noted.

Once the ten-hour story is over and done with there's little incentive to return. There's a Challenge mode, but all that does is send you through the campaign stages with your equipment to earn medals and more money for upgrades, but by the time you reach the end you'll likely have all the upgrades since cash is so abundant. The obvious arena combat mode is nowhere to be found, nor is there multiplayer. Still, with combat this fun you'll likely want to pop it in from time to time long after the dust has settled.

Conclusion

There's really only one thing you need to know about Red Steel 2, and that is that the sword combat absolutely, positively delivers in every way you want it to. The rest of the game does have some issues and without the stellar controls would have been more of a step sideways rather than forward for the genre, but shooting and slicing dudes is just too much fun to pass up.

More Stories

Game Trailer

Ubisoft show us the final launch trailer for the Wii sequel, Red Steel 2 - now with full review. For more information head over to http://nin

User Comments (65)

pixelman

#1

pixelman said:

Sweet, good to hear it uses MotionPlus well. Personally I've found MP extremely unstable in Wii Sports Resort, Grand Slam Tennis, and Virtua Tennis 2009, so I hope that changes in this one. I'll give it a rental sometime.

advance_melee

#2

advance_melee said:

Ill be getting this eventually... I knew it would be good unlike the original Red Steel. That game was horrible

Sneaker13

#3

Sneaker13 said:

I just won a copy of this game. I can't wait. I love the graphical style and WM+ should make this a great game.

JamieOStaff

#5

JamieO said:

Whoa, it delivered on the controls! Fair play, I was a bit cynical about this. The Japanese/ Spaghetti Western soundtrack sounds really creative. I definitely like the visuals from screens, as Jon says XIII had a cracking art style too, it is a shame that the environments can become a bit dull.

Regardless, successfully mixing "shooting and slicing" is quite an achievement. Great review, Jon. :)

TrevorTheChan

#6

TrevorTheChan said:

Nice review, Jon. Sounds like it could have done with a harder difficulty setting. This may be the next game I'll get that uses the MotionPlus.

millarrp

#7

millarrp said:

Just picked up this game a few days ago and so far I agree with everything said in this review. Even though the controls aren't quite 1:1 it's still a fun game.

irken004

#8

irken004 said:

I'll wait to buy this. It sounds good, but I need to save money for other games.

cough SMG2 cough...

TheBaconator

#10

TheBaconator said:

This game is amazing...To bad it doesn't last forever (very short of forever...shorter then normal...It's short.)

citizenerased

#11

citizenerased said:

Good swordfighting is all I ask for. I'll probably play through it 5 times. This is the game we were promised in 2006 :P

More of this, please, Ubi. And other developers, too!

vakama94

#13

vakama94 said:

good to hear it delivers the motion controls smoothly, i´ll wait a bit to buy it since here in mexico will be too expensive

Token_Girl

#14

Token_Girl said:

Flawed, but it looks like it basically accomplished what it set out to do. I personally find the controls worked great in WSR, so if they're that good here, then I'm set. Def. picking this one up when I get a chance.

Vinsanity

#18

Vinsanity said:

They completely overhauled everything here, and it looks nearly as good as Borderlands visually. I gotta say, I really wanna give this a shot. I'll probably pick it up, though man....I just know that the Motionplus will be ill supported in the future. I don't wanna hurt Ubi Soft, but I just don't know if this is worth the investment.

Kid_A

#20

Kid_A said:

Looks like a blast. I mean, Showdown on Wii Sports Resort is pretty much as fun as it gets when it comes to console gaming. Red Steel adds guns. What more could you possibly want?

Imerion

#21

Imerion said:

I have played this game all day and have really enjoyed it. I'd probably give it 9/10. It could have had a bit more variation and multiplayer would have been awesome. But it certainly delivers on what it set out to do; a great sword-based battle system mixed with guns. Also, the art style is nice. I love the slightly cell-shaded look. Very smooth and neat, even on huge TV's.

motang

#22

motang said:

I couldn't even play the first one as that's how horrible it was. Looking forward to this one!

@vonseux you can get the game bundled with MotionPlus.

Donatello

#23

Donatello said:

@Kid_A

Sword Play in Wii Sports Resort 'is' 1:1, Red Steel 2 on the otherhand isn't quite. But eh, I'm still buying :D

KrazyKain

#24

KrazyKain said:

lol all this hate for the first red steel.. i might not be able to play it again (after playing with smoothe controls like the conduit) but when i got it, i actually enjoyed it, its a decent game, just nothing special.

anyway.. this on the other hand looks very special... still waiting for my pre-order to arrive (funny how I pre-order and am still one of the last people to play it....)

PhoenixRising

#26

PhoenixRising said:

I love how people slam the first game as terrible. Thing is, I playing through the first game no problem and outside of the slow camera when gun-fighting there really wasn't much of a problem with the game.

Sean_Aaron

#27

Sean_Aaron said:

My copy should arrive in the post today or tomorrow - great review Jon! Are there multiple difficult settings at least; otherwise I can see replaying just for the fun of it - especially if it's short, which works well for my time-constrained life!

Mabbit

#28

Mabbit said:

those sound like really big glitches. glitches like that really make me wonder how much the game is even tested before launch

James

#29

James said:

@Sean There's quite a few difficulties, including Ninja mode which is supposed to be mega-intense. I tried it in an early version but seeing as for a time I was probably the world's leading Red Steel 2 player (hoho) naturally I sailed through it. Cannot wait to get my hands on this one again.

Omega

#30

Omega said:

I liked the first Red Steel because of it's nice graphics and atmosphere. It looked almost like an X-Box (I) game. But this one reminds me too much of the early Gamecube days. Using a slightly improved XIII engine for a brand new Wii game is probably not the best idea, Ubisoft. I'll pass at the moment. Maybe I'll get a used copy someday when it's < 5 Eur.

Guybrush_Threepwood

#31

Guybrush_Threepwood said:

Looks nice but no must-have for me! I pass on this and wait for Red Dead Redemption. There are just too many interesting games being released in April/May.

I'm also planning to buy a PS3 with some games soon. So my Wii budget is very restricted this year (Of course there will always be some money for highlights on Virtual Console). My next Wii games will probably be Metroid: Other M and SMG2.

brandonbwii

#32

brandonbwii said:

Nice to see the Core Wii audience is supporting this game. All 5 of you.

Man, I'm just amazed at those who didn't even pre-order the darn thing. There are waaaay too many "maybes" and "I'll pass" people on this.

Ubisoft makes something amazing and you're all on the fence waiting for the next big N title.
Meanwhile, if Ubi makes another Imagine or even Rabbids game, there will be a huge rant.

This game is what Wii was made for and I believe this may be the last great 3rd party title for the system. Also, unlike Jon, I have yet to find any game-crippling glitches.

@guybrush
It's amazing how many people on Nintensites say they'll pass on a game for a PS3/360 title. It's a real shame. It almost never happens the other way around.

Sean_Aaron

#33

Sean_Aaron said:

@Prosody: Excellent. Really I don't need extra game modes in this kind of game: added difficulty levels will suffice as replay incentive. This weekend for some shooting and sadness (Fragile) then!

JakobG

#34

JakobG said:

I was awaiting this for a long time, and sadly, missed the cool pre-order because I couldn't find it anywhere.
I was too hoping for a 9/10, but I still will definitely get this.

KrazyKain

#35

KrazyKain said:

I love who ignorant some poeple here are.. i dont mean to offend but the review clearly says it's anything but waggle, and that the motion+ really does its job.. but no.. you insist on it being a wagglefest and the motion+ being useless... it's your loss for the most part.. but it's people like you who are the reason why the Wii fails.. support it already! if you just wanted regular first person shooters then get an xbox!

JimLad

#36

JimLad said:

Ahh, so close to being awesome. I don't get how some developers don't consider replayability to be important enough. This isn't the old days when you could rely on highscores to keep people coming back, YOU NEED SOMETHING FUN FOR THEM TO DO AFTER THE STORY!

Oh well, it's still a landmark even if it's not that big of a game.
I'll be buying it simply because the swordplay apparently works well, and there's nothing else out there like it right now.

GreenSpleen

#37

GreenSpleen said:

Picked up my preorder yesterday and played for about 3 hours last night. Its alot of fun, combat feels great and I LOVE the graphical style. This type of game would be SOOOOOO much fun if it had an online battle system. Im not even talking co-op either... a simple arena where you can customize your character and battle others from around the world would be awesome. Red Steel 3 please!

RyuZebian

#38

RyuZebian said:

I've seen this game bundled with Wii MotionPlus, at a standard price! This is on my birthday wish list!

Yanagi

#40

Yanagi said:

This game's already out? Man, time flies.

I really want to sink my teeth into this one, but it will have to wait until I get a steady income once more. Unemployment sucks.

bro2dragons

#41

bro2dragons said:

this is so much fun. hand the game is such a treat for the eyes. i'm loving every bit of it.

Sushie

#43

Sushie said:

Hurm, I don't have the wii motion plus, and I'm a cheap bastard anyway, so this will have to be one of those $20.00 deals before I give it a go. Looks pretty good though!

LEGEND_MARIOID

#45

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

Its been described elsewhere as the most immersive and intuitive combat game ever. 86% from ONM and 85% from N-Gamer.

Great revw. Not a game from me as I'm not really into modern hack and slash but I am really, really glad that wiimotionplus sword slash play turned out brilliant.

Now I want a first person view lightsabre duelling game please

Percentful

#46

Percentful said:

brandonbwii wrote:

Man, I'm just amazed at those who didn't even pre-order the darn thing. There are waaaay too many "maybes" and "I'll pass" people on this.

Some of us can't afford to get more than 3 or 4 games a year, so we have to pick carefully. You can't deny that for the Wii, first party games are usually better,so why settle for an 8 when you can get [what will hopefully be] a 9 or 10?

Ravage

#47

Ravage said:

Slightly disappointing that there are those glitches in there, but still sounds pretty good.

citizenerased

#51

citizenerased said:

Got it in the post today as well! Loving it.

You do get RSI (Red Steel Injury? :P) from it if you play too long, I think, though.

Sean_Aaron

#52

Sean_Aaron said:

This and Rage of the Gladiator definitely give you a workout, so I would take heed of the Wii Sports advisory and take 15 every hour or so.

I sometimes forget to target lock (doing the manual thing) and get a little lost, but really this is lots of fun with great little touches like the destructible parts of the environment, the excellent character facial animations and just the whole world design.

It feels original and it's a lot of fun - no regrets here!

lex0plex

#54

lex0plex said:

I bought this game and it's a lot of fun. I find for the controls to work 100% you have to stand, but it still works if you sit. Just expect a steep learning curve, but as soon as you get the hang of the sword, the game gets too easy...

mrPlow

#56

mrPlow said:

Excellent game, no regrets of buying this. Funny how Red Steel 2 feels brutal without being violent (if that makes any sense :) )

Aviator

#57

Aviator said:

I'm kind of disappointed how the Johnathon did not mention of any shoulder injury. He might not have played it as intensely, but lets face it, nobody is gonna care how they swing their sword. It will be a wagglefest, but trust me, it hurts.

Sean_Aaron

#58

Sean_Aaron said:

Be fair, if you're overdoing it there is a sensitivity adjustment to sort that. Smile through the pain and like it!

winter123

#60

winter123 said:

I seem to be in a very small minority... But I bought Red Steel at launch and loved every second of it. I'm glad the soundtrack is still great (Tom Salta again I presume?). The original had some glitches as well, so I can overlook those. But one of the main draws about the original was the lush and varied environments, but here it's like cardboard boxes? I must have played the last level 5 times in a row just because it felt like such a real environment- Travelling upstream through a forest, to find a secret enemy base along a cliff. I also really liked the gunplay in the original too. It took a bit of practice, but once you got used to it, moving your wiimote closer to the screen to zoom in and snipe some guy 500 yards away felt amazing... but that seems downplayed or even non-existant in 2. So, I will definitely play this, but I will likely wait until it's a bargain bin game of 20 or 30 dollars.

NiC

#61

NiC said:

This game was great. Killing Ninjas and Samurai with all these awesome special-moves and cool guns was just awesome. I also like the style of the game and the creative "Wild Wild East"-idea. And well... If you think the game is too easy, just put the difficulty on hard and the sensivity on athletic. That's not only challenging, but also exhausting and good for your biceps if you do that with a little weight on your wrist, trust me :D

Splat

#62

Splat said:

Juts got around to playing this for the first time and I love it.

CaptainDingo

#63

CaptainDingo said:

Red Steel 2 is a great game. I recommend it to all Wii owners.

There are only two main issues I had with the game.

1: There's this bug that plagued me on 2 different occasions where I would enter combat, but there weren't any enemies to fight. And since the game blocks you off from leaving the area when you're in combat, I was completely stuck and could not progress. I had to quit the game and try doing things differently until it didn't happen anymore. Again, this happened twice. It was very, very annoying, but hopefully it doesn't happen to anyone else.

2: When you get to the end of the game, it's no longer possible to go back and buy upgrades. You're stuck in front of the final boss. This means that, if in theory you were saving your money and didn't buy a lot of your upgrades, and happened to get to the end of the game and didn't have enough upgrades under your belt to reasonably beat the final boss, too bad. Guess you need to start the game all over again. D:

Besides those two pitfalls, great game. Was almost everything it was promised to be.

Rogues

#64

Rogues said:

I'm late to the party ( as usual ) but I am playing RS2 and it's great. This is exactly the type of game one would expect when you have controls like the Wii provides. Too bad it took so long for a game like this to make it to the market. It's a bargain now and still comes with the Motion plus so if you haven't gotten it, do it already! I wish there was more support for the Motion Plus attachment but it sure makes this game a blast to play

The only issue I have with the gameplay ( and it's Nintendo's fault ) is the damn nunchuck cable either restricts my full swings or it gets tangled up.

Hopefully Nintendo will do away with ANY cables on future consoles and I may look into a wireless nunchuck for now.

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