Red Steel (Wii)

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Written by  :  Minter064 (26)
Written on  :  Dec 25, 2006
Rating  :  3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars

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Fun for fans of light-gun genre, yet not of Samurai Shodown.

The Good

Red Steel's abundant strengths outweigh its glaring weakness. It is easy to judge this game based on its awful presentation, but Red Steel is essentially an hours-long Time Crisis with all of the strategic ducking and vibrant locations, but none of the time limits, cheezy multi-hit bosses or anti-climactic vehicular mayhem. This is the game I dreamt of when I first opened Time Crisis 2 on PS2 and the Guncon2 had a wee little d-pad on the back just begging to be used in a FPS. The pacing of the gunfights is well balanced and non-lethal forced surrenders add depth to the gameplay as does the ability to envelop henchmen in confusion by taking out the leader of their pack. The art direction is particularly well done. The effectiveness of the graphics is displayed in the lush detail given to subtleties such as the ground reflections and rays of sunlight coming through sometimes incredibly complex window frames. The lighting plays off the edges of every object in its path, blurring them and appropriately distorting the lines of the polygons. Clearly, time was spent designing and organizing the layout of these locales, each of which appears to be one movie set after another with all of the movie magic turned on in terms of shadow and coloring. Ubisoft's strengths come through in the atmosphere of the levels, all of which is unfortunately tarnished as soon as anyone opens their mouths.

The Bad

To put it simply, the swordplay mechanics are disjointed and weakly implemented overall. The tempo and fury of some of the battles is excellent, but executing any of the more complex moves Scott receives after training is based more on random luck than precision movement, which robs them of any potential depth. Your enemy will block and dodge your sword swings with the grace of Obi-Wan Kenobi, yet it never feels like any input from the remote registers in any tangible or reliable way. Blocking your opponent's attacks feels perfect with the nunchuk, but a swing of the remote practically guarantees the opposite direction slash on screen. It seems that Ubisoft had a great handle of how to program the motion of the nunchuk, but were clueless in the motion sensitivity of the remote. The mission structure is rather plain as well, despite sounding complex coming from those who give the missions. It may also sound like willful nit-picking but the voice acting of each and every character is unbelievably bad. The voices not only take the player away from the slick visual immersion, but the henchmen also rather stupidly alert you their location with each shout of "you murderer!" and "stupid gaijin!".

The Bottom Line

Pure visceral shooting action. I cannot stress just how awesome this aspect of this game is. Every bullet hole issues a spray of particles flying from the surface the round comes into contact with. Not since Goldeneye has the unique feel of holding and shooting a gun been this well defined. No longer is the player imprecisely directing an analog nub acting as a virtual eye defining an arbitrary cross hair in the center of the screen. You are now holding and aiming a weapon which registers shots and targets foes as accurately as your actual aiming skill. Red Steel does not innovate in variety of guns; it has a very standard armory. Where it does revolutionize is in giving the player the destructive and deadly force of wielding a gun. Strategically using the shotgun to clear a room where death is imminent is just as satisfying as methodically taking out each goon one by one from cover using more long distance methods because the unique force behind shooting a gun is very well implemented. Perhaps this is the reason that there is not blood splattering all over the place; a detail that would make this game less of a skill-based shooting gallery and more of a overblown murder simulator. The fun in Red Steel lies at a very simple level of clearing rooms of enemies, which Ubisoft has accomplished perfectly. It is a crying shame that the potentially most ground-breaking aspect of this game-the sword fight encounters- is so utterly broken. A main problem is that the fights must first be judged in an unfair way. What the pre-release press perceived as a free form samurai simulation is actually a rock-paper-scissors experience, only when you want to throw rock the screen drops a huge load of paper on your opponent. If it seems that my perception of the game is less than rosy, it is only because of the disappointment I experienced when the lack of depth in the sword fights rears its head. Yes it is true that with practice, almost every opponent can be taken down with a quick dodge and a side slice, but this realization comes with the knowledge that what could have been is, in my mind: gaming perfection.