Red Steel Review (Wii)

Red Steel is perhaps universally recognised by most as the first Wii game to be shown off in any shape or form. After being revealed earlier this year, the title quickly became one of the most talked about games for Nintendoís upcoming next-gen console. Taking full advantage of the Wii-remote, Red Steel was unequivocally the showcase for the innovative technology that the console would ultimately employ. However, opinion was divided following its debut at E3 and other industry events throughout 2006; many doubted its ability to employ the functionality of the Wii-remote to a capable level, as well as the fact it seemed to deviate little from other first person shooters on the market at the time. With the Wii now released, has Red Steel sharpened its blade well enough? Or is it blunt as a spoon?

Red Steelís action centers around a young Asian American named Scott, as he embarks on a quest to rescue his kidnapped fiancťe from Yukuza thugs. Thereís not much to distinguish the gameís story from other B-movie plot lines, and the campy dialogue only enforces this belief, so its strictly familiar territory here. After a brief introduction, you are forced to defend yourself from attacking gang members by arming yourself with a variety of firearms, ranging from handguns, Shotguns, automatics and other high-powered weaponry. From here, the game takes you through a variety of locations including factories, office blocks, garages and streets, eventually taking you from one side of the pond (L.A) all the way to the dark underworld of Tokyo.

Red Steel uses the Wiiís unique controller to aim and shoot
Youíll have access to variety of weapons, including this assault rifle

The principle of the game couldnít be any simpler; make your way through each stage, killing dozens of Yakuza along the way until you eventually complete each mission, furthering you on to the next one. Each mission presents you with an ample amount of ammunition, and there are only a few instances where you could conceivably run out of ammo for a particular firearm. While missions do contain various objectives for you to complete, they are nothing more than rudimentary goals such as collecting keys, destroying certain objects or activating buttons, which donít honestly feel all that challenging.. The level designs themselves are simple and relatively straight forward, offering little in the way of branching pathways; more than often, youíll be guided by frequent enemy ambushes, or by simply trying every door in the area until you find the only one that allows you to open. Never a finer example of linearity in a game can be found elsewhere on the Wii than Red Steel.

Gun battles are on the whole quite entertaining, but much of its appeal simply comes from the functionality of the Wii-mote. Your enemies are at least afforded opportunity to take cover at times, reloading their weapons and using basic Ďduck and coverí techniques in attempt to dispatch you. However, a lot of the time you may find your foes will simply stand out in the open, allowing them to be blasted into submission as they stand there fumbling around with their weapons. Other times, you may find them conspicuously frozen in place, or moving around erratically, which again allows Scott easy pickings. After a while though, the lack of diversity in gunplay becomes quite monotonous, which isnít helped by the moderate A.I offering. Of course, the success of each battle is determined on your ability to control Scott using the Wii-remote. The remote itself is used to Ďlook aroundí, moving left and right which allows you to aim your sights. The B trigger, appropriately, is used to shoot. Meanwhile, the nun chuck is utilized to actually move your character around, which when used concurrently with the Wii-remote, functions the same as the dual analogue control of other FPS, ala Halo and Time Splitters. Needless to say, itís a pain to get used to at first but when mastered, it becomes second nature. One of the main problems is the fact your targeting cursor is way too small; itís literally a small white dot, which changes green or red depending on whether you target friend or foe. A more traditional target icon would have been a lot more efficient here to say the least. None the less, when you do actually get used to it, youíll find itís substantially more rewarding than simply pressing a regular button. Pulling off a complicated headshot or sniping your enemies feels quite an accomplishment.

The sword battles are, sadly, highly flawed
Battles take part from L.A streets to lush gardens in Japan

Unfortunately, things get a little disappointing and ultimately disjoined when the sword battles come into play. Apart from the lack of 1:1 mechanics, the game just does not adequately make use of the Wii-mote without facilitating some major flaws along the way. The most common problem is the fact the game fails to register your movement, leaving you standing there chewing the fat whilst your enemy makes a direct counter attack. Occasionally, youíll manage to pull of a successful blow as interpreted by your motion, which is nice to see, but for the most part youíll execute something completely different than what you actually intended. The whole thing feels horribly disjoined and somewhat tacked on. However, the defensive side of things actually work great; the nun chuck can be used to parry blows, or even damage the sword of your opponent if timed correctly. Youíll also get to use some stupidly powerful attacks along the way, which in all honesty, is probably the best way to ensure you win a fight, requiring little in the way of skill or dexterity. After blasting your way through the single campaign, thereís the option of battling it out in a four-player split screen death match, but itís perhaps not all that enjoyable due to the fact the games problems are magnified even worse on a smaller screen.

The visuals in Red Steel are sort of like a box of Roses; youíll love some of the contents, and hate the rest. The locations themselves are exceedingly average at best, and are largely draped in the same repetitive, uninspired architectural furnishings throughout the game. When the action finally does get to Japan, things become a little more interesting, but its still the usual lifeless corridors and flat textures dotted around. The effects on the other hand, are quite impressive, with some particularly nice explosion/fire effects. Ubisoft insist this game couldnít run on the Gamecube, but, aside from a few flashy effects, the majority of the game screams circa 2003-2004. The frequent drop in frame rate doesnít help it either, which can prove irritating at the best of times. Sound wise, things are a lot better. While the voice acting leaves a lot to be desired (which isnít helped all that much by the script), the game soundtrack is quite impressive, offering up a healthy dose of techno/rock fused. The sound effects arenít half bad either, especially the mandatory gunshots, explosions and other sounds that ring amongst the on screen chaos.

Environments contain a lot of destructible scenery
The game contains some nice effects

At the end of the day, Red Steel is perhaps best viewed as what could be possible with Nintendoís new hardware, but doesnít necessarily encompass it in the best way. The actual game itself is completely average, seemingly only made more interesting due to the control system. Itís certainly fun for a while, but in time you begin to see past the superficial coating of the Wii-mote and realise that itís not all its cracked up to be. Indeed, Red Steel is something of a wasted opportunity, but perhaps worth the rent if you arenít expecting anything miraculous.

Top Game Moment:
Pulling off a meticulously placed headshot by actually aiming at the screen feels great.

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By ying12345 (SI Newbie) on Mar 15, 2009
i really liked this game as it had a nice gameplay/ feel to how you used the remote to kick some bad guy ASS!