Review by Osafune2

"Could have been an excellent game"

Red Steel is a game developed by some French people from Ubisoft, it is also one of the few games made from the ground up for the Wii. It attracted lots of interest at E3 and an FPS seemed like the perfect game for the Wii remote, which comes complete with a trigger like button. When this game came out though there were some pretty harsh reviews and not many professional reviewers thought much of it. Christmas time and I had nothing much to do or play so I decided to get Red Steel, and here are my impressions of the game.

Red Steel places you in the role of Scott and it immediately bemuses the player by presenting him with a beautiful woman, a fish tank and the line “Wow Scott! Look at all the fish!” Thankfully you simply need to point at fish with the remote to calibrate it properly. You are with Miyu, your girlfriend, and you are going to see her father, Sato-san. The game does not wait long before making you shoot some people when the hotel is attacked and your girlfriend taken, act one of the game progresses through LA in pursuit of her but she is taken to Tokyo. Once you follow her there you become involved in gang warfare and the nefarious dealings of the Yakuza. I won't spoil any more of the story, but basically you shoot lots of Japanese people.

Many of the initial complaints with Red Steel were directed at the controls, with cries of “I keep getting killed because I spin around staring at the ceiling like an idiot.” The controls are fine, no, they are good. They are similar to a PC FPS game using a mouse, the Wii remote pointer acts as the mouse. You move around with the control stick on the Nunchuk and also, the Z and C buttons duck and jump respectively. It feels great to move around with the remote in your hand and to actually have your finger on a trigger and then to physically aim at an enemy and shoot. Now, contrary to the various Wii adverts, you do not have to play with your arm extended, I comfortably play slouched in a chair with my arm in a perfectly adequate position. You cannot complain of discomfort when playing unless you hold your arm aloft for the entire duration of play.

Shaking the Nunchuk also allows you to pick up weapons and interact with the environment; such as opening doors, retrieving weapons, knocking over tables like a cowboy etc. This does work though sometimes you have to shake the Nunchuk a couple of times to open a door, a button would be quicker and easier. You also reload by doing this. Ignore the people who detract the game controls, they work well and it feels so badass to actually tip the remote on its side and see the pistol tilt as well like a gangster and then pop some caps into the enemy.

Having said all this, the controls are not perfect and they do take some time to get used to, also the controls in the sword fighting completely ruin the potentially fantastic sword fights. This brings me neatly on to the subject of gameplay, which is all round good, nothing that screams “AMAZING!” at you, but it is a good game and you shouldn't feel disappointed with it. As said previously, the controls make the game very immersive and a lot of fun, in fact, they are the main reason this game is good because I would not invest in this game were it on a normal pad. The one thing, the level designs are too linear, there are many doors but only some will open. The same objectives keep appearing “Disable security system” and, “Find a way into X location.” I think an extra few months in development could have drastically elevated the game's scores and made it a must have Wii title.

Another thing that bothers me are the enemies, not that they have bad AI or anything. Call me sick and twisted if you will, but when I shoot an enemy in a game I want a slight spraying of blood out the back of their torso or head as their body crumples to the floor, and while Red Steel has some blood, you can rarely see it and that is a big part of what makes FPS games seem “realer” if that is a word… Anyway, I want more realistic blood flow. I also get very annoyed at the apparent resilience of your adversaries, ok, a well placed headshot drops a Yakuza member like a lead balloon but they seem to be able to take many shots to the torso or other regions of the body. Say you are a Yakuza member ok? You stand in a room on guard, all of a sudden someone bursts in with gun in hand. He swiftly fires two bullets into your chest, your lungs are perforated and blood is pouring into your mouth, you collapse to the floor as lack of oxygen to the brain takes hold due to ripped lungs, your heart slows to a stop and you die, right? Wrong. In Red Steel you shoot someone twice or even thrice in the chest and they merely say “Ouch!” and duck into cover before carrying on shooting or RUNNING about. Maybe this is slightly picky and I do not want the game easier, but this is next generation apparently, surely they could make it more realistic and enable you to wound the enemy?

Also, when an enemy is killed, they fall down in rag-doll fashion. Sometimes it looks great and it really looks like several machine gun rounds have just torn through them, but other times they look unusually contorted and often they twitch and continue to move about. They eventually just vanish, if this was on the N64 I wouldn't mind, but this is Wii, this is ahead of Gamecube. Enemies should not vanish, not at least for a substantial amount of time and it just makes it seem rushed. There are many parts of the game that seem rushed in fact. One of which is the sword fighting.

One of the biggest things going for Red Steel in the build up was the promise of cool motion sensing sword battles. In actual fact, we get absolutely dire, clumsy and downright un-enjoyable swordfights. This is my opinion, and maybe you found them great, but I thought they were dreadful and the game would be much better without them. My first problem; someone who wants to kill you approaches with a sword, you also have a sword but better yet, you also happen to have an Uzi and a massive Assault Rifle. Now forgive me for being logical, but surely you would just whip out a gun and let some daylight through his body? Not on Red Steel! On Red Steel you are forced to sword fight with them. Once in a fight you can swing a sword by swinging the remote and instead of cool 1:1 swings you watch pre-set movements. You can block with the Nunchuk by swinging it, and you can press the C button on it to nimbly dodge.

It is just such a chore, it breaks up the flow of shooting people, you know, exciting stuff that makes loud noises and flashing lights. I also wish that they died one swipe, make it over faster and more realistic, because a big burly black man with some lead pipe is going to be cut clean in half with a Katana surely? Instead you have to make 12,000 swipes at him until he eventually dies and you can get on with some fun. We already know that I am sick, but the biggest disappointment comes when you win, you can choose to spare them for respect points or kill them. Obviously, you are going to execute someone the first time just to see what it is like. It is rubbish. You merely hit them in the face and they die. I want Hara-Kiri damn it, they should have to stick their sword into their own stomach and then the player beheads them in one swing whilst a shower of blood sprays up. I am joking slightly there, but you want some blood don't you? Even Jack Thompson would be disappointed at the anti-climax that is execution by Samurai sword.

Graphically this game is sufficient, but not amazing. There are moments where it looks fantastic, but other moments where it is PS2 standard. The Wii is much more powerful than the original Xbox they claim, yet the graphics on Red Steel are not as good as Resident Evil 4 on the Gamecube or Zelda: Twilight Princess for that matter. This is more evidence to suggest it was rushed in time for the launch. I have heard the initial games were developed using GC dev kits, so it may well not look like a true Wii game, and in any case the launch games rarely do a console justice but the graphics on Red Steel could have been better I feel. This game can also be a bit glitchy in places with some corpses lying through tables and things like that, though very rarely.

The sound and music is good in this game, it has some cool music and also some strange J-pop which is not quite good and not quite irritating. The gunfire does sound good, even though the Shotgun is not as meaty as it should have been. The voice acting is ok in cut scenes but the things the enemies say are so cheesy that they are brilliant. It reminds me of the absurd things the guards would say on Perfect Dark; “I DON'T BELIEVE IT!” and some of the phrases in Red Steel are ridiculous. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Red Steel is a good game, nothing great, but it does suffice and is worth getting as there is nothing much else for the Wii at the minute. It can be both fun and frustrating, some parts being rather difficult, but the linear level design makes things a lot easier than they could have been. It feels a bit rushed and does not fulfil its potential; it promises much but delivers only a portion. A sequel is already in the works and I would recommend looking forward to that with anticipation as they will have more time to refine the good features and iron out the little niggles that can detract from Red Steel. It takes around 10 – 15 hours to beat, so it is a reasonable length of time for an FPS game and some parts can be pretty challenging. The multiplayer is pretty average and there is no online play, I say again, they should have delayed it and really taken their time. Could have been a classic, but it only became one of the many “pretty good games.”


Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 12/26/06

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