Red Steel was one of the first games to be released as an official Wii title that was outside the realm of the Mushroom kingdom. When we first saw it, many people hailed the early screens as a possible return to grace for third party support, as well as one of the first adult oriented games to be on the system. Now, a year later after this inscription, Red Steel has come and gone with the Wii launch, and the result was not what we expected.
Instead of being treated to a game with tight controls that would make you as accurate as James Bond on a shooting spree, we instead get a what could have been. A game that, despite all it does right to try and set itself apart, has so many flaws that it hinders it entirely.
The game is probably the second best in terms of graphics for the Wii, with only Zelda surpassing it in terms of overall quality. The textures are smooth, animations smooth, and there is a decent amount of detail in the game. That being said, the game also suffers from dark, repetitive corridor action, seen in the hay days of the Playstation and N64. We also have a lot of graphical slowdown and clipping going on when there shouldn’t be any, which is more of a mark of a rushjob than a bad game.
Another love/hate item is the cut scenes that are laced in between each level. They remind me a lot of a strong graphic novel, great animated pictures that breathe vitality into an otherwise still scene. I loved them, others hated them. It is clear that Red Steel has an artistic quality to it, not so much as Zelda, but still noticeable none the less.
Overall Score- B-
The game tries a number of revolutionary things that I will nearly guarantee will become mainstays in FPS that use the Wiimote. Control wise, you can use the nunchuck/wiimote combo to move and strafe, duck and peak, as well as open doors, turn over tables, pick up weapons, and, one of the features from the game, engage in swordplay. On this system, the controls need to be tight, responsive, and engaging, or else the game will fail. Red Steel does one category right, one category wrong and one category mixed in that sense.
The problems come with some of these controls are this. It will take a LONG time to master them, and remember how to exactly use the controls in the situations it gives to you. This is also hindered by the weak turning scheme that Red Steel has. Like in Call of Duty, it is hard to turn 180 degrees to any direction to shoot someone, and even harder to aim if your hand is shaking slightly and you blind fire at them. Another major problem is that sometimes the wiimote doesn’t register to the game properly, which will leave you spinning around in a circle as you look at the ceiling, something that is bad if you have Yakuza members shooting at you from overturned tables.
The objective is the same in each level too, go through corridors of yakuza members and gangbangers, shoot, repeat. Some sequences, like the pretty cool carwash and the airport baggage ramp rooms, break it up, but overall it remains unchanged throughout the game, and gets repetitive real fast.
This is a blessing and a curse, because it is clear what Ubisoft was trying to do, but the reaction to it was not what they expected. They want you to have pinpoint accuracy that needs to be REFINED with use. Everything in the game becomes easier as you move on, from shooting to turning, strafing to ducking. After the first few levels, I became a fighting force in the game, despite the limitations the controller had presented on it. Even still, most gamers don’t have the patience, or the time, to register that into games, unless if it’s revolutionary like Halo tried to be.
Another factor is the swordplay, which for me, at least, works fine. It is obvious that it was rushed, and that the swordplay could have been refined as well, but once again, people expecting to be sword masters from the first battle would not enjoy the controls. Here they are refined more, and added are some strategy moves and special attacks that could tip the scales for a battle in your favor. The “honor” system in the game, however, seems like an afterthought to the whole game.
And unfortunately, so does the somewhat silly storyline. Your girlfriend is the daughter of a Yakuza boss who experiences a coup, and you travel to the land of the rising sun to gain honor for that boss, and save your girlfriend. Been there, done that, comes to mind with the story.
Multiplayer is fine, but I think would of benefited from being online instead of split screen multiplayer. That itself is a throwback to the old, Goldeneye days, and is a great multiplayer game, if it wasn’t so superficial and kind of wasted
Overall, the problems with the controller limit the potential Red Steel has. To many bugs and a lot of stuff to do, with tons of movements and options for people to register in their motor skills, makes the game challenging even for the hardcore crowd.
Final Score- C
The soundtrack of the game is a mix of strange J-pop, classic Japanese riffs, rock and roll, and I think a bit of hip hop thrown in for good measure. The soundtrack is off the wall, and fits the game well. Sadly, the voice overs don’t. With the exception of maybe 4 characters in the entire game, the voice work was horrible and very laughable. What magnifies this is the fact that the games enemies say dumb things every five minutes when you go from corridor to corridor, a throwback from the olden days, one that I always hated.
Final Score- C
I think if Red Steel was not a launch title, it would have been a better game than it is now. Ubisoft did a lot right, but instead of a clean cut by a katana, we get the sting of a double edged sword here, good graphics with nice controls, mired by control problems and having bad voice acting. Wii owners should play a demo and see if it’s to your liking. You can see the ideas are there, but the ideas behind a potentially good game are stopped by the problems of “launch syndrome”, something that affects all launch titles but an elite few. Here is to the hope that Red Steel 2 is better, and doesn’t make the series commit Hara Kiri in the end.
Final Score- C-
Overall Score- C