Review by ShadowGuardian9

"The Wii can handle FPS games. Just not this one."

The Nintendo Wii; it's Nintendo's latest video game console bundle of joy. It's showed us sword-slashing, golf, tennis, racing, and almost every game genre under the sun. But Ubisoft accomplished an excellent feat: how about a shooter for the Wii? Early demos showed promising controls and abilities using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. Ubisoft built the first person shooter from the ground up, specifically for Wii, and Red Steel is the grand result. Does it make a great move for FPS game on Wii?

The story is a strange play of Japanese crime bosses and yakuza missions. Apparently your new fiancee is the daughter of a yakuza leader, and he's gotten himself mixed up in a conflict that endangers the hero and his wife-to-be. The story is extremely mundane and barely passable, because the acting and overall presentation is sandwiched between disruptive load times and some annoying still-frame images. If you're looking for a well-written and emotional story in your game, please don't pick up Red Steel, because you most likely won't be at all satisfied.

Red Steel has the honor of being one of the first shooters for the Wii. Throw your dual-analog stick controller mindset, because Red Steel introduces the new FPS control setup. So, the big question is: does it work? The answer is yes. The controls in Red Steel do work. You control your reticule with the Wii Remote and turning can be used by changing the remote's direction. The B trigger is your shooting button, and the D-Pad lets you switch weapons, toss a grenade, or reload. The A button lets you go into a focus mode, a pseudo-sniper scope where enemies are kindly hinted with reticules and you can zoom in by moving the Wii Remote. The focus mode is actually useful in taking out faraway enemies and is a fun inclusion in such an action packed game. The Nunchuk has the analog stick for movement, the C button for jumping, and the Z button for crouching. A quick shake of the Nunchuk lets a player pick up a new weapon, open doors, press a switch, or execute an opponent with a quick swing of the katana. In my humble opinion, the C button and Z button commands should be switched and the Nunchuk sensitivity a bit more sensitive, but outside of that, the controls do work and offer a promising future for the genre.

The game begins with some quick introduction to the control setup then basically goes downhill. You are quickly introduced to a slew of brain-dead, random enemies who randomly shoot at you from random places. The enemies range from guys in suits to guys in an auto body shop with random shotguns and assault rifles randomly appearing in their hands. Does anyone know why a guy in an auto body shop gets his hands on an assault rifle? No. The guys who appear also suffer from the inability to use cover and stealth, and will simply run to you with their guns firing or simply stand in a specific place. This horrible piece of gaming design is commonly referred to as “grunt tactics,” and really that's what it is: grunts trying to be tactical. It just doesn't work. Being that the computer opponents are so stupid, it makes the game quite a bit easier. Even with a weapon as simple as a pistol, combined with the huge amount of armor, amazingly-quick health regeneration, and focus system, the game is embarrassingly easy. The enemies are so stupid and the artificial intelligence is so bad, it makes you see past the interesting novelty of the Wii FPS controls and show how bad the game does everything else.

One of the biggest letdowns of this highly anticipated game is the awful sword scenes. Randomly (word of the game, I suppose) you'll approach some guy with a katana or club or baseball bat or other stick-like weapon and get thrown into a one-on-one battle. The ability to use your gun and other weapon is prevented and the only weapon you get is a sword and a parrying weapon. The parrying weapon can be used to block off simple strikes so you can move in with a strong attack. The swordplay, as promising and interesting of a concept it may be, is just as flat and uninteresting the rest of the game is. The enemies will use simple strikes which are ridiculously easy to parry and occasionally a stronger attack to dodge. The combat is basically the repetitious blocking, parrying, and striking until someone wins, which being the simplicity of the combat, will most likely be the player. The end of the match lets you do the whole morality deal where you can either kill your opponent or let them go, but the limitations of the game's gun and sword moments is confining. The fact that you can only use the sword when the game tells you to is a major letdown. One of Red Steel's most promising elements was the balance between sword and gun sequences, and being that the swordplay is so confining and repetitious, the game's most promising elements ends up being one of its worst.

As for the presentation, it's bad. No, I mean really bad. The menus are illustrated with weird Japanese neon signs and they make it incredibly difficult to navigate menus. The slow and drawn-out cutscenes are slow and unskippable. The game itself suffers from poor graphics that constantly show glitches. How many glitches? Well, you'll constantly see your ammunition floating in mid-air or finding an enemy clipping through a car. How about a nearby car exploding during your quiet stealth sword attack that was only being used to knock out a single enemy? Yeah. The game's graphics and technical problems make an ugly appearance for the gameplay, making it even worse looking than the Wii's basic graphics feats. There is the occasional feat: windows will shatter gradually in battle depending on the amount of damage and there will be environmental interaction to a degree. But on the whole, Red Steel manages to look like a moderately old PS2 game, not something to be proud of in the world of modern video games.

The voice acting is equally lame, but fortunately is worth a couple laughs. The story is shown through the voice acting, which sounds forced and just plain unprofessional. The bad guys will announce their amazing plans across the room or tell you to stop hiding while they let you reload all of your weapons. Apparently they sound off as if they're three steps behind you, even if they're on the other side of the room. Go figure. Many of them announce that they're out of ammunition or sound off calling you names instead of doing anything else. It's pretty funny for a bit, but at the end of the day is just another nail in the coffin of Red Steel.

The multiplayer contains your typical gunfights for four players on one screen. This can be rather fun, for a bit, but there's no swordfights. Even though the swordfights are poorly constructed, it's still taking a good portion of the game and getting rid of it. The lack of online play is another major letdown. A crowded room with only four players is a poor way to demonstrate the Wii's capabilities as a system. If Nintendo wants to succeed in a multiplayer community for the Wii, put some games online! Or at the absolute least, don't make the games so broken and buggy.

+ Wii first-person shooting controls good
+ Has some nice graphical effects
+ Multiplayer is interesting
+ Interesting angle in the story

- Too many glitches and bugs
- Graphics are awful
- No online play
- Outside of the controls, this is a flat and by-the-book first person shooter.

If Red Steel proves one true thing, it shows that there is a good home for first-person shooters on Nintendo's interesting new system. The controls allow some good precision, but still require some well-timed reflexes. They are quite balanced and a good start for future FPS games. There are some pretty entertaining moments throughout the quirky shooting levels and at times it really makes some steps toward a better, smoother and overall, more fun FPS. On the other hand, it's mediocre in nearly every other aspect. The graphics are poor, glitchy and uninteresting. The voice acting is really bad. The level design is by-the-book and boring. If Red Steel was put on any other system than the Wii, it would no doubt be another boring and generic shooter that the gaming world would look past without a second thought. But being the first shooter for Nintendo's cool console, it gets the benefit of the doubt. If you're looking for a good shooter for the Wii, Red Steel is pretty much up that alley, as narrow and vacant as the alley may be. Anyone looking for a great shooter will be completely let down at Red Steel and its blatant incompleteness. Rent it for a week, then forget about it.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 07/05/07

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