Review by lordofthefarm

Reviewed: 07/23/07

This game wears too much make-up.

By make-up, I mean this game looks very sleek, but once you wash that away with the introduction, it looks quite ugly. In E3 it was portrayed as the future of FPS games, it was said to be a thrilling action game with inventive controls.

The basic story is clear, your fiance gets kidnapped, and you rescue her, doing great - or not so great - deeds on the side. But it's full of cliches, and it's quite boring to watch and listen to the scenes. Worst of all you can't skip them, which brings replay value way down.

Graphics are not supposed to be a stronger point in Red Steel, but I can't help feeling it's the only thing that is above mediocre in this game. It's not exactly pushing any boundaries in terms of next-gen consoles, but it looks pretty good on the eyes and not too fuzzy or anything. I'd say of the best in the early Wii games line up. However, what I don't like is the picture scenes with slide shows, showing no positive effects, not to mention poor effort.

As far as characters go, there are only basic back-stories and voice-overs explaining them. Their designs are simple, but in a sort of good way. You really won't notice any major flaws because there really are none, just maybe a few tweaks could have been made to improve. There are variations in all characters, which is nice to see in a game.

For the sound, I'd simply say 'meh'. Voice acting wasn't the greatest, as some parts fell too generic for my liking. The music was ok for an action game, but nothing too mind blowing. The sounds from the Wii are a very nice touch, and you'll never get tired of that shotgun reload, but it does get muffled and fuzzy, which can ruin something the game seldom creates - an atmosphere.

Now we get to the biggest letdown of this game by far and away. Controls. You would think that for a motion sensing shooting game which needs precision to get anything done is vital to the game, and you would be right to. But it is a letdown. The Wii remote is a great gadget, but it's far from perfect. You get random jolts in different directions, irregular movements of the
cross-hairs and non-responsive commands while sword fighting. The movement of the character is fairly simple; use the nunchuck to move, jump, crouch or to do stuff like unlock doors. But when it comes to camera movement, it gets tricky and extremely annoying. You often find yourself in a stream of bullets from several directions and it would seem wise to take care of that as soon as possible. Well, that's not what is going to happen, it's going to take it's own time to slowly turn around, then take aim and try to hit targets which are far away for a large part of the game. But don't fret yet, as this game contains a handy zoom option which I admit helps a lot. It does have a tiny little problem though. To zoom you need to take aim and move your remote forward. Doesn't seem hard? try doing it when you're stretching your arms from trying to take aim more accurately.

What I was looking forward to was the use of both duel swords and guns simultaneously. Well I bet everyone was looking forward to that part. Heh, guess what? You get assigned to what enemies you do sword fights with and to what enemies you shoot at. Sure, you can slash at the normal enemies, but it doesn't do you good to run right at them with the intention of making a fairly inaccurate move on the enemy. Sword fights... Was I looking forward to that or what?! Unfortunately they tend to be rather boring, as all you do is block/dodge, hit, repeat. Nothing pumps your blood like repetitive movements, eih folks? That's not the last thing a sword fight can do, it also has the ability to make you a very angry person by allowing you to beat the enemy until his last straw, then totally thrash you by pulling off amazing blocks.

As far as variety in gameplay goes, it has none. No two ways about it. Straight paths which will lead you to more enemies to hopefully slaughter. I suppose this is good in a way, but it does get boring with no freedom of choice, especially if you look at other games which have a story which is wide open to you.

'What about the enemies?' I hear you ask. Well, they're A.I. of course. Which shouldn't rule out a possibility of a challenge. Unfortunately it does in this case. The movements of the enemies are predictable and they would get slaughtered mere seconds if it wasn't for the flimsy controls which make it more of a hit and miss sort of thing. For the selection of models, the game doesn't fail. It's not massive, but you won't be saying anything like 'I've been shooting the same looking guys for three hours now!' as the foes have different attributes and clothing, even if the differences are sometimes subtle or non-existent.

The gun selection isn't the greatest, but it does justice for the game, and it offers some veriety. Too bad you can only carry two guns at a time. Ammo isn't a problem for the game as a whole, as there is plenty lying around or appearing from a dead foe. I would have liked more swords with different strengths and weaknesses, but there is no selection.

What I think could have been improved on was the gore in the game. Shooting bad guys with shotguns, handguns, snipers, machine guns and all sorts of machinery is cool, but not so much when you don't get to see any good looking effects. Another disappointment in this area came with the sword fights. When slicing the enemies with razor-sharp swords you'd expect severing of limbs or at least big cuts on their chests or something. But you don't see anything. Not even if you decide to kill the enemy at the end of a sword fight, which brings me to another point.

A nice touch was being able to choose, you heard me, choose to spare or kill your adversaries at the end of sword fights. Choosing to kill them gives you some satisfaction, especially if he caused you trouble in the fight. But choosing to spare the enemy gets you respect points. Other nifty little features include being able to either roll or throw a grenade, which can provide different effects. Another good feature is the frame freeze 'power' you get later in the game, which is a Matrix rip-off for slow-mo. It allows you to slow down time and maybe you could get lucky by finding a group leader out of the mob of enemies, and shoot the gun out of his hand, which makes them all surrender. Pretty cool, I must admit.

Length is only an issue when the replay value isn't worth squat. Alone, you're looking to complete Red Steel in a few days of a tad more hardcore gaming. A casual player might take a week to do so. I guess it's fine to buy or rent, your choice. Unless, of course you happen to have two remotes with nunchucks because this is where the multiplayer fun comes in.

Now multiplayer is standard one on one find and kill each other sort of thing. This might again seem trivial, but you'd be surprised how fun and exiting the game can get against your friends or family. You'll get plenty of laughs too with the bad controls and 'mistakes' people can make. I would love an online mode with this, as I'm sure it would be total chaos.

Overall, it's a game with ups and downs. Too bad the downs could have been fixed with a few more months in development. I hate to see games which have huge potential to be rushed into production and sold as a mediocre game.

Final score: 6/10

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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