Review by pfmw199

"Flawed, but not the dog of a game some people would have you believe..."

Truth be told, I'm not normally one to review games, but the reaction to Red Steel across the professional review sites / magazines has been so overwhelmingly negative that I felt I had to submit what I thought to be a fair assessment of a unique, but admittedly flawed game.

Since we all know what a first person shooter is, and we've all seen screenshots and the like, I'll spare you my thoughts on the usual graphical debate that seems to accompany every wii review and skip straight to contentious matter of Red Steel's control system.

The game is basically split into gunplay and swordplay. For gunplay, you hold the wii remote as you would a gun, using it to look around, with the nunchuck being used to move and strafe. As control systems go, it's nowhere near as responsive as a mouse and keyboard (you only begin to look in the direction you move the remote when the crosshair nears the edge of the screen, which takes some getting used to), but overall, there's something quite chunky and satisfying about the feel of these controls that more than makes up for its minor shortcomings.

Unfortunately the swordplay stinks. The on-screen action lags behind your movements, and the entire control system is based on recognising gestures and mapping them to the nearest action it can think of. This would be fine if it wasn't for the fact that your gestures often don't translate into the game particularly well. You may think you are blocking an attack, but Red Steel will sometimes think your are gesturing it to pick your nose instead. As a result, swordfighting invariably descends into you waving your arms around like an idiot hoping for a lucky hit, removing any sense of skill or achievement when you finally defeat your opponent. To make matters worse, there's a few unnecessary complexities thrown in by the developers to try and disguise the shallowness of these sections, and at times this will frustrate you to the point where you'll be throwing your remote through the television screen regardless of whether your wriststrap has snapped or not.

Thankfully, the swordfighting is as infrequent in the game as it must have been in Ubisoft's playtesting process. There's a few other niggles - a general lack of polish in-between levels, pauses in the flow of the game when autosaving, and the cardinal sin: unskippable cutscenes. Checkpoints within some of the levels are also inconveniently placed, with death resulting in you having to replay a tedious section again before reaching a decisive point in the game where a checkpoint would have been more appropriate.

By now you're probably thinking that this all sounds a bit negative for a game getting 7 out of 10, and you'd be right. There ARE a lot of things to dislike about Red Steel, and it is tempting to simply write it off as a failed experiment. However, the 7 out of 10 is a testament to how much the gunplay compensates for these flaws. Yes, you'll be cursing the screen, throwing your remote down in despair and drafting that angry letter in your head to the developers, but you'll get an immersive rush from the gunplay's control system that will seduce you back again and again until you realise you're actually quite enjoying it.

Of course, there are other things to like about Red Steel as well. The story is entertaining enough, the game has a nice style to it's presentation and the sound effects and music are above average. The levels are also varied and imaginative - from sushi bars, to car washes, to theme parks - you certainly won't be bored as you shoot your way through the ten hours of gameplay Red Steel has to offer.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 01/02/07

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