Review by deadlyrom

"Ubisoft's golden contribution to the first person shooter genre!"

I picked up five Wii games on launch day, one of them being Ubisoft's first person shooter Red Steel. Early press reviews and impressions for the game touted great problems with the controls, so when I picked up Red Steel I was expecting a messy control scheme and glitches galore..boy, was I wrong.

Story (7/10): The game takes place in Los Angeles, you take the role of a young man named Scott Monroe who's fiancée is kidnapped. It's your traditional kidnapping action movie story with a few twists thrown in. There are many side characters with stories you meet along the way who both help you and ask for your help, mainly different Yakuza groups. This game also features an alternate ending, which I thought was really cool.

Graphics (8/10): One of the game's main criticisms. Early on in the game, the graphics look of your average X-Box title..textures don't look very mind-blowing and by the first few levels, most players make up their mind about the graphics being just that -- "decent". After the first act, though, something weird happens -- the graphics go from being standard to awesome. As you progress and get to different levels and environments change to more visually appealing ones, the game takes advantage of them. Lighting begins to get better(particularly apparent on shiny tiles and neon lights in city districts during the night), fire, reflection and vibrant colors really stand out and you notice the game's anti-aliasing really doing it's job. Compared to most 360 titles released up until now, I really feel that this game does hold it's ground in the graphics department. An interesting thing to note, though, is that early screenshots of Red Steel (see Gamespot for images) boast incredibly better detail than what the finished product has -- detailed models, detailed shadows and beautiful beams of light pouring through bullet holes in paper walls. This level of detail continued to be showed in screenshots as late as June of 2006 but did not make it to the finished product..whether Ubisoft over expected what the Wii hardware and graphics chip could do or fibbed and retouched early screenshots may never be known, but the final product is still great by Wii standards.

Audio (8/10): The game features a great soundtrack, with tracks ranging from upbeat J-Pop during shootout scenes to more serious and dramatic songs during sword fights and other intense moments. Sound effects were great, the Wii remote's less than stellar speaker being the main problem in quality here..but after a while of playing, the reload sound coming from the remote compliments the game's attempt to make you feel like you're in the game. I found the voice acting to be fine -- some of it, particularly the Japanese women were very convincing.

Controls (9/10): This game has the most steep learning curve for controls of any console shooter I've ever played (although that could be attributed to this being a Wii launch game) but are extremely rewarding and fun when you master them. It took me two hours to get the controls, after that I was nailing headshots left and right and no longer had problems of unintentionally aiming off screen or my reticule having a mind of it's own. Controls are most easily learned in single player, since multiplayer is fast paced and you won't be taking the time and getting used to aiming as you would against AI in early levels of single player. The most important tip I've given players new to Wii is to rest your arms on your legs when you play, raising your arms only to zoom and during sword fights. By playing this way your aiming is always leveled and will greatly improve your accuracy and turning. As a lefty, I found this game impossible to play left handed as there's no option to switch the model to left handed and it does a number on your brain.

Gameplay (10/10): Red Steel has one difficulty and you are ranked after each level completed. The single player campaign will last roughly 10-13 hours with each level taking anywhere from 20-40 minutes to complete if you take your time. AI is smart, fleeing and taking cover behind objects in the same way you can, by flipping over tables with the nunchuck. Midway through the game you get access to your "focus" ability, which is essentially slow motion and allows you to shoot weapons from enemy hands and make them surrender. The only times you can use your sword are; (1) when directly in front of an enemy to melee them for an auto kill and (2) during certain "boss" fights when you are forced to put away your guns for sword duels. This is not necessarily a hindrance to gameplay as sword fights increase in difficulty and fun factor as you unlock new sword combos which can be executed by performing different swing combinations. After defeating an enemy in a sword fight, you can kill him or alternatively spare his life for respect points and sometimes game play/storyline tips.

Replay Value (8/10): While you are ranked after each level and can choose to replay any level you have beaten to improve your rank, it does not appear at the time of writing this review that there are any unlockables when you achieve the highest rank -- so getting a high rank would be solely for bragging rights. Not being able to skip through cutscenes might make you think twice about playing through the game again, too. Only having one difficulty isn't really a problem because the average player probably will die in this game a few times.. it's very balanced, especially since the control scheme is new. The multiplayer (offline only) is very fun, reminiscent of older console shooters like Goldeneye N64 and Timesplitters. Moderate paced action packed with a ton of fun, but only four levels to choose from and no alternate game modes other than deathmatch unless four people are playing.

Overall (8/10): Out of the five Wii games I've played and own so far, Red Steel really is the most fun and a must have if you're looking for a dedicated single player experience on the Wii. As a long time PC first person shooter veteran I was really surprised at how well I took a liking to this game and how new and fun the controls were when you get used to them. This game is groundbreaking to the FPS genre and I haven't yet found it boring, which is getting harder and harder to say about console FPS games.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 12/04/06

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