|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft Paris||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 23, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
In the realm of making video games, second chances can often be as hard to come by as great third-party software at a system's launch. Proof positive of the latter part of this statement is the original Red Steel for the Wii. With dreams of realistic swordfights and gun battles fueled by precise motion controls dancing through their heads, many early adopters of the Wii also picked up a copy of this promising shooter.
Unfortunately, whether constrained by the limitations of the hardware, meeting the system's launch date, or by the motion controllers themselves, Red Steel was the first game for many Wii owners that made them doubt the viability of motion-controlled games of this nature. That being said, the game was very ambitious and did contain some good ideas, which thankfully work out much better in the series' second effort.
Unlike most games with a '2' in their title, Red Steel 2 feels much more like a complete reboot for the series rather than just a slightly more polished follow-up with a few new features. The setting for the sequel completely abandons the modern yakuza feel of the original in favor of a more East meets West type affair. The Eastern influences are there in terms of some of the architecture, enemies, and sword combat but how it is mixed with the Western components is what makes it feel so unique. Much of the game's visuals are very reminiscent of a spaghetti western with safes containing gold bars, cowboy hats, wanted posters, and tumbleweeds constantly helping to remind you that this is a very different world than that of the last Red Steel.
This time around you're also playing as a nameless character who apparently prefers to be a loner. Coming back from a lengthy exile, you find that the clan you belonged to has been completely wiped out except for you. As the last of the Kusagari it is up to you to discover who killed your friends and make them pay for it. While it's not the most original or well done story you'll ever experience, thankfully, it also isn't bad enough to take away from what will actually propel you through Red Steel 2's experience: the action-filled gameplay.
To call this game a first-person shooter (FPS) would be a horrible misrepresentation of that label. Although you do most certainly have a gun, and can utilize it whenever you like, using it to dispatch enemies is clearly not the focus of this game's combat. Gunshots are very rarely an effective way of killing enemies, usually working much better when used in conjunction with a healthy helping of your decidedly not red covered steel blade (thanks T rating). A well placed shot to the head or leg of a foe can cause them to get disoriented or drop to a knee, making them easy pickings for a sword combo or perhaps even a finishing maneuver. Switching between your gun and sword is also quite fast, which is definitely a blessing considering that if it took anything more than an instant, your guns would be almost completely worthless.
The swordplay absolutely takes center stage in Red Steel 2's combat and is also fairly responsive and enjoyable thanks to the use of the Wii MotionPlus add-on for the Wii Remote. It was definitely a risk making this game work exclusively with the MotionPlus attachment, but it certainly seems like it was the right choice. The way you hold your controller is directly mimicked on-screen, as is the speed at which you swing your sword. Swinging it gently will result in a light attack, better suited for the weaker enemies in the game. However, taking larger and faster swipes will do significantly more damage and be necessary when facing foes who wear armor.
Unfortunately, one-to-one swordplay still isn't an option here. Instead, the game will only recognize a few gestures and translate them to their corresponding attacks. Players can swipe left to right, right to left, down to up, up to down, and thrust the controller forwards in a stabbing motion. That's it; no diagonal slashes or Zorro Z's to be had. The straight up and down and left and right positions are also used for blocking, which does help to simplify the defensive side of combat quite a bit when used in conjunction with the A button to dodge attacks.