Review by nintendosega

"It's a really bad game...yet...it's a frigging blast."

Is it possible to play a game that you know is bad....and still like it anyway? I really didn't think it was possible but Red Steel proved otherwise. The plot's horrible, the voice acting is weak, the presentation is horribly uneven, the levels are often generic, the game never feels authentic for a second, (it's made by a French developer and it attempts to create an authentic Yakuza experience....yeah, okay,)..... yet....the game manages to be a complete blast to play and a combination of awesome controls (yes, you read that right,) and great atmosphere and interesting sword fighting and unintentional humor make this easily worth recommending, at least until the Wii gets some better FPS games.

Visuals:
When Red Steel was first revealed to the gaming public, the graphics were very impressive, showcasing not only highly detailed environments but next-gen AI and some extremely impressive lighting effects....what the hell happened? The game we ended up with here is a game whose visuals can, at best, be described as "uneven." There are times when the graphics in Red Steel are very impressive, and I can definitely see a step above what is done on the Gamecube. There are other times, though, when Red Steel looks terrible; something uglier than what's seen on the PS2. Not only do the quality of the graphics seem to vary by level, but they often change DURING the levels. Clearly the game was rushed out the door in order to make launch, and it's kind of unfortunate, because had they waited a little longer, we might have had one of the Wii's better-looking games. As it stands, though, the graphics simply look uneven, although damn, this game's got some of the better explosion and fire effects I've seen outside of Resident Evil 4. Another thing about the graphics that deserves praise, though, is the overall style. Some levels offer some pretty cool and stylistic visuals. Some examples, like the Dojo, the Spa, and when you're having a shootout in the streets of Tokyo, feature very appealing visuals with a really unique style. Too bad the game can't keep a solid framerate to save its life...

Visuals overall; although the graphics feature definite style, the visuals themselves are extremely uneven, with some areas looking very nice and some looking so ugly that they might as well be on the PS1. Kudos to the explosions, though.

Gameplay:
One of Red Steel's biggest innovations (and the source of its controversy) is its control scheme, and it's the first game to make use of the Wii's remote and nunchuck for FPS action. Some will hate these controls. They aren't the most accurate thing in the world, and those who like to aim with 100% precision in FPS games will be extremely disappointed. But for those who just want to play a FPS game that feels immersive, Red Steel's the one. The Wiimote acts as the gun, the Nunchuck is used to move. When you move the Wiimote, the gun onscreen moves with it. And you basically go through the game shooting enemies and getting in the occasional sword fight. The gameplay itself is extremely basic. It's basically a "room-to-room" shooter, where you go from one room to another and shoot enemies before moving to the next one. The AI is beyond dumb, though, which is disappointing, especially given how intelligent it was in the game's first unveiling. As an FPS game, especially compared to what's going on with the genre lately, Red Steel's like a joke. Yet, on the Wii, with this innovative and immersive control scheme, the game completely offers a fresh experience and is, let's face it, extremely fun to play. Using the Wii-mote as a gun is very immersive and the fact that you can overturn tables to hide behind, you can shoot almost anything in the environment, you get cool bullet-time like powers later in the game, and the SOMETIMES creative and visually stylistic levels make Red Steel a game that you'll want to finish in spite of yourself....you're fully aware that the game's bad, but you have fun with it anyway. Compared to FPS games on the market now, Red Steel feels like a completely half-assed effort. But it's so fun to play and I couldn't wait to see what type of environment I'd reach next. This is the type of FPS where you have shootouts in a running car wash.

But the game becomes even better once you reach Japan, and there's a sense of non-linearity, as you set up base in a dojo and can then choose which order to take on certain missions. You can also return to the dojo in between missions to train and get new sword fighting powers.

Ah...sword fighting. Yet another reason Red Steel feels entirely stupid....yet fun. The idea that Yakuza members routinely carry samurai swords around with them is beyond ridiculous, yet...the sword fighting is fun and unique, so I'm glad it's in the game, as stereotypical as it is. Yes, it's yet another thing that would have benefited from more development time (the enemy has some moves that you can not use, and there should really have been more variety in the sword swings,) but as it is, it's something extremely fun and something that you have never done before. Using the Wii-mote as a sword and the nunchuck as a shield during intense sword fights is...fun. In spite of how incredibly stupid it is that, in the middle of a gunfight, someone will run in with a sword and demand to spar with you, and in spite of the fact that there's no blood WHATSOEVER in this game, (even when slashing enemies in the face with a sword,) the sword fighting is fun and it succeeds because it's fun.

Gameplay overall; The gameplay does start to get a bit repetitive towards the end and various bugs in the game (for some reason, I had to complete a level twice because the game didn't register that I completed it the first time,) do hurt it a bit, as does a very unstable framerate and the lack of ability to skip cutscenes, (even after you've seen them already,) are pretty big issues. And obviously, this FPS and level design (right out of the 1990's) is pretty laughable when compared to what's on the market now. Yet, the extremely immersive controls and unique sword fighting end up making the game much more fun than it has any right to be and I easily can recommend it to any Wii owner...just don't go in expecting a good game, and you'll have a blast.

Audio:
The music is awesome. Although some songs do repeat a bit, the music is incredibly atmospheric and cinematic and it, with the controls, help make Red Steel a very immersive experience. Like the rest of the game, it doesn't exactly feel authentically Japanese, (because it's not,) but the music really gets the job done and is actually really memorable as well. Easily one of the game's highlights.

The voice acting, on the other hand.....is pretty horrible. It's so bad that it actually ADDS to the experience by providing some unintentional comedy. Honestly, I'd be surprised if even half the heavily accented Japanese voices in the game were done by Japanese people (at times, it really does sound like someone's doing a pretty bad imitation of an Asian accent,) and the other characters really don't fare any better. The voice acting is bad. Really bad. But again...don't go in expecting a masterpiece, and the unintentionally hilarious voice acting adds a lot to Red Steel's "bad kung-fu movie" atmosphere.

Audio overall; Great music, and really bad voice acting that adds some (unintentional) humor to the game to create a really (again) fun experience. It's like watching a really badly dubbed kung-fu movie. Again, not the atmosphere I'm sure Ubisoft wanted to create, but the story's so laughably bad that you wouldn't be taking it seriously even if it was acted by Hollywood talent.

Plot:
It's so stupid that I'm not even going to waste time describing it here. Red Steel's plot is laughably horrible and, again, it's so extremely un-authentic that it becomes unintentionally funny. Don't play Red Steel and expect a realistic and emotional tale of the Yakuza, guys, it would be like going to an Uwe Boll movie for the storytelling. Aside from the hilariously bad voice acting, we've got a really bad script, the story is told through some really badly drawn still-photos, (and if not, through some really bad in-game cutscenes,) and of course, no authenticity at all. Again, though, although not intentional, it all creates a FANTASTIC and unique atmosphere. Playing Red Steel is like getting a chance to play a ridiculously bad kung-fu movie that's been (to top it off) given a really bad dubbing. It's a blast. Red Steel is unlike anything you've ever played before, I promise you that.

Plot overall; the fact that Red Steel's from Ubisoft, (a developer known for their deadly-serious, gritty, cinematic shooters and stealth games) makes it even funnier.

Verdict:
Red Steel is really one of the most unique games I've played. I've never seen anything else like it. Ubisoft, a French developer, attempted to create a memorable and authentic experience that gives us insight into the Yakuza. They fail so horribly that it's entertaining. The extremely bad story, horribly inept dialogue, really bad voice acting, and the fact that the developers were so proud of this that they don't even allow you to skip the cutscenes, really makes Red Steel one of a kind in this day and age. It all adds up to create an atmosphere resembling a very bad kung-fu movie.....and it's fun. Just like it's sometimes fun to watch a really bad movie and enjoy how horrible it is, Red Steel is extremely fun to play, despite how bad it is. Immersive controls and sword fights and great music and stylistic visuals make the game very fun while playing, and the attempts at story add some much-needed comedy to the experience. This is not a masterpiece, guys. Don't go in expecting it. This is the type of game that is under the impression that Japanese Yakuza members run through the streets of LA carrying samurai swords. This is the type of game where you spend a lot of time slashing people with swords and yet there's not a single drop of blood to be found. Yet....it's also an extremely fun game made much better by the fact that it's so bad....that it's actually good. Definitely recommended for Wii owners until some better stuff comes along. It's a good launch game, and I had so much more fun playing it than I did playing Twilight Princess. I highly recommend all Wii owners at least rent Red Steel. (With the really bad library on the Wii right now, I know you're not playing anything else anyway.) Resistance: Fall of Man? Gears of War? Halo 3? Psh....who needs them? Us Wii owners got Red Steel. And we're loving it.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 07/17/07, Updated 12/04/08

Game Release: Red Steel (US, 11/19/06)


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