Review by Bearissoslow
""Red Steel: The curse of poor execution""
Out of every review I've done so far, I'd easily say this is the one that deserves the most prefacing. To be honest, I never actively wanted this game, cared about it, or even had any interest in it when it came out. The only significant thing I was curious in was the advertising campaign that was run for this game. Albeit I thought it was decently humorous, it was horrible at garnering any desire for me to play it. A FPS on the Wii? Sword controls? It's one of the first main games to hit the Wii? I smelled that disaster from a mile away, and promptly stayed away from it like the plague.
Come about three years later, I find this game in a Best Buy for thirty dollars. At first I laughed pretty hard, until I realized that it came with No More Heroes, a exponentially better game that I wanted to get. This was the deal of the century, and even I couldn't ignore what a probably horrible game Red Steel would be if it came with NMH at regular price. I actually didn't even really have any contempt for Red Steel, at the time, anyway. I considered the possibility that I was just wrong or too judgmental and that it could be enjoyable or entertaining. So, I decided that I would wait off on playing NMH until after I beat Red Steel, so that way I wouldn't forget about it or ignore it. Here comes the shocker: I was wrong in every single, possible way about Red Steel, and playing it for as long as I did was an exercise in patience beyond comprehension.
The first thing I have to say is that the camera is just a piece of crap and horrible. It's the Wii, lh, I know, but how could you mess up the camera this badly? It's completely erratic, and rarely moves in the direction or at the speed you try to do so. Plus, while it is adjustable, it's hard to even differentiate where the dead zone begins and ends for the camera (For those of you who don't regularly play FPS games or just don't know what a "dead zone" is, it's essentially the area at which you can move the aiming reticle normally without triggering any camera movement so that you can efficiently control your view and aim.). Metroid Prime 3, though made after Red Steel, at least made a visible idea of where the dead zone was. Another issue with the camera is that the aiming reticle will often just completely jump out in a different direction and is entirely difficult to be accurate with when just walking. I messed around with my sensor bar's location a few times over, but it did nothing to alleviate my problem. Maybe it was just me, but this was a consistent problem throughout the game.
As for the actual gameplay itself, it's just a joke. The only time this game is at all challenging is if it throws enemies at you like L4D does. The enemies are easy to overpower (they will walk right up to you, shoot at you a lot, miss, and then die easily if you wait; I'm not even joking), and the game has a laughable difficulty curve. Things only got difficult around the time at which you get past a set of tasks you get after about 4 hours or so into the game, at which point the game just starts chucking enemies at you like confetti. The aforementioned enemies will often have body armor, surround you, and the locale will give you little secure coverage or places to hide behind. This begins the frustrating half of the game. The frustrating half of the game isn't necessarily difficult, but it is most certainly not enjoyable.
Enemies will be able to destroy your coverage, shoot at you from impossible angles, group up on you in large quantities (I'm talking about 8-12 man groups, with about three waves usually. I could name instances where it was more and worse, though.), and will often have an unfair advantage over you. The only thing that could make this problem worse would be if the game threw in more Sniper Rifle enemies, but fortunately, the game will almost never do this unless it's conspicuous. Unfortunately though, this also creates the problem of FPS buffs who love the Sniper Rifle and other guns of that nature will feel like a fish out of water. The ammo for a Sniper Rifle is few and far between, and the most effective tactic you could use would be to just run up, get the attention of some enemies, hide behind some coverage, and pick them off by running up and shooting at them. There's little room for any strategy in this game that doesn't require trial-and-error. Plus, there are some weird ways in which the enemies are designed. First off, shooting at an enemy's leg is almost always an instant kill, but shooting at their neck or higher does not always kill. WTF? Also, most enemies will have a rough time of it shooting you at all if you approach them. In fact, they usually tend to shoot much more accurately when further away from you, which makes little sense. It's not so much a complaint, but rather me pointing out how unpolished this game is. FPS execution, for the most part, is executed poorly. I only had fun on a few levels, and even then, I'm talking about interrupted fun, spaced by long loading times and annoyingly unnecessary cutscenes.
The second part of this game's main selling point was swordplay, which is a textbook definition of "poor execution". I can sympathize and understand that this game was an early release on the Wii. However, hat does not excuse why this game has such terrible motion controls and swordplay. I couldn't even articulate how awful the controls are for this game, or how pointless swordplay is. Swordplay, in this game, is just an obvious, low brow attempt to rake in the otakus and japanophiles who dreamed of wielding a japanese sword, and nothing more. It's certainly not a logically used feature. Most of the time when you engage in swordplay, it's completely illogical as to why you should for only one reason: you have a gun. That trumps a sword, if I recall correctly. Sean Connery in "The Untouchables" even said so: "Don't bring a knife to a gun fight." It's only common sense that if you are fighting and murdering groups of people who want to kill you that you should kill them first. What's the problem with shooting anyone who tries to use a sword on you? Oh, that's right, this game is set in Japan, and you have to follow arbitrary rules of "honor". You can kill someone with a gun via a gun, so it's only common sense to kill someone with a sword via a sword. Logical, isn't it?
But, back to my main point. This game poorly executes swordplay, and just in the most embarrassing way possible. There's absolutely no difference between actively trying to read into what type of attack you should do and just flailing your arm around like you're trying to shake off a tarantula from your wrist. Actually, there was no problem with this approach. All you would have to do is dodge an attack, and doing so usually (read: usually) gives you a guaranteed opportunity to attack your opponent like stark, raving mad. Rarely will you ever have to actually use a move by actively inputting a command for it. Speaking of input command for the swordplay, you should know what to expect from this game, an early FPS on the Wii with horrible camera controls, when it comes to swordplay input. I wasn't expecting anything amazing and I wasn't even planning to use sword moves by the time they are introduced to you, but holy hell this was just pathetic. There's little you can do to actually pull these moves off without spending twenty minutes (at very best) learning them by embedding your nerve controls for the Wii mote hand into your brain permanently by reaction. It's just impossible to pull them off in a chain, if only because you're given a fraction of a second in between slashes. Plus, there's absolutely horrible movement direction detection. I know the way the Wii remote is set up and how this was such a problem that Wii motion plus was designed, but this is the poster child for why motion controls are unnecessary. I actually don't even want to develop this point any further, because I could, and doing so would take about five paragraphs of anger.
Everything else in this game is forgettable and just generic. The storyline is completely uninteresting (except maybe the bunny game freak guy, but he's not even given five minutes worth of dialogue), there's actually almost never music except for two or three tracks that are constantly used throughout the game, and graphics are on the same level as the PS2's, with some leeway above and below as such. Once you get past the awful gameplay, all that's left is a hollow, rushed, unpolished game. I don't see any reason why you would actually enjoy this game. It's just not something I can comprehend. It's a game that just has nothing redeemable about itself. There's not actually one thing I can honestly and sincerely say this game does right. There's only maybe one level I enjoyed, the crazy bunny game freak's level, where a guy kidnaps you and then forces you to kill people and do some exploring/messing around to survive. He has bunnies set up as explosives, and even at one point, has a faux snow hill that you have to climb while being assaulted by the exploding bunnies. However, it's still not that great of a level. It's completely bogged down with long cutscenes in which you're told the same thing over and over again, and the game just makes this character, bunny freak, the most boring character ever. There's no development, personality, or even quirks about him, other than the given "hey he kidnapped you to do some games and likes bunnies lol". This was a fun level though. Through it's horrible execution, the game has set this level as the standard of fun for me. A bad level in a regular FPS is practically enjoyable compared to everything else in Red Steel. Doesn't that tell you enough about this game?
Pass on this game, or sleep lightly. I will hunt those down who stimulate the economy towards Ubisoft, essentially approving of and encouraging the sequel (all I can say is: Please be good or don't even bother), and thus promoting consumerism to horrible quality. If you buy this game, you are effectively happy with buying any other horrible game. Don't play this game, and most certainly do not buy this game.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 08/24/09
Game Release: Red Steel (US, 11/19/06)
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