Review by Afro_SamuraiX
I love the gun action, but do I have to sword fight this guy?
Back in 2005, Ubisoft promised us a game that would show off to the world what the Wii-then called the Revolution-could really do. They promised us the most realistic gun and sword experience ever and they chose to do this in the form of a yakuza game. I was one of the many people who was excited for this game's release in 2006 as a Wii launch title. I finally go tmy Wii during the summer of this year and the first thing I did was fire up Red Steel. I wasn't too amazed by it but I wasn't completely disappointed either. Let's let this review take it from here.
You play a westerner named Scott who is engaged to the daughter of a Japanese yakuza boss. Without warning, your fiancee is kidnapped by a rival yakuza gang who is after your soon-to-be-father-in-law's territory as well as his infamous katana named Giri (which I believe is Japanese for slash). Now you must delve into the Japanese underworld to win back the love of your life and insure that the katana Giri isn't used for dishonorable purposes. Basically, it's a search and rescue mission. Nothing really too awesome, but I suppose it's interesting enough to keep you playing.
This game looks better than your average Wii title. Most areas in the game aren't too high in detail but definitely aren't complete eyesores. There is a central hub type place in the game which you can visit after you've reached a certain point. This central hub is a bar owned by a guy named Harry and it has a firing range in the back. I gotta say, this area looks especially good and the different yakuza sitting around who give you your missions are more well done than most Wii in-game NPC's. The character's movement are pretty fluid. Even your on-screen arm moves fluidly as you move you own arm. However, there many areas and objects that like someone didn't spend any more than a couple seconds on creating them. The area outside of the dojo-which you can go to in between yakuza missions to practice your sword fighting-looks like it came from a Nintendo 64 game. The lighting in this area isn't evenly spread as there is no sense of any time of day other than 10 a.m. Overall, though, this game is pretty good-lookin compared to most other Wii titles.
If the graphics don't really suck you in-and they probably won't-the sound may just make up for that short coming. Thanks to the speaker in our Wii remote (or Wiimote) you can actually hear the sound of you gun reloading which I always think is really cool. Your Wiimote even rings whenever Harry calls you on your cell phone. Seriously, I doubt it gets cooler than that. There are times when you'll be engaged in a sword fight by an enemy at which point some kind of Japanese drum music will play in the background which tries to set the mood for the fight. The only time you'll hear your Wiimote's spearker make any noise is when you block a really fierce sword swing from your opponent in which case you'll that metal on metal clang signifying that your blade has taken some damage as well as you. As far as music is concerned...well there is almost none except for the battle music you hear when sword fighting someone. When yakuza shoot at you, the sound of the bullets whizzing by is pretty realistic and gives you a sense of peril. Especially if you're ducked behind a crate with guns blazing all around you waiting for the moment to jump out and unload. And while you're hiding, you will almost definitely hear someone say something really stupid like, "Where did he go," or , "He's gone!" and this is why I didn't give this area a perfect score. The enemies shooting at you tend to say things that make you think who was smoking what when they wrote this script? There are even times when you'll put someone down for the count and their buddy will shout, "You murderer!" Wait a sec! So you're telling me that if you shoot and kill me it's okay, but when kill your boyfriend, it's murder? This dialogue is the sole reason I couldn't give this area a 10. Other than that this game sounds awesome from the bullets flying all around you to the explosion you get from popping a few caps into a barrel.
Noone can deny that shooting people and watching them drop is oh so satisfying especially when you shoot at a barrel or a car near a group of enemies and watch the beautiful display of red, yellow and orange light up the scream as your foes let out screams of bloody murder! You shoot with the "B" button and combined with the motion-sensing controls, it gives you then sense that you're actually holding that 12-gauge shotgun, or AK-47 blowing people away. If ever there are too many enemies for you to aim carefully to take out, you're able enter Focus mode which temporarily freezes time so you can off guys easily and quickly. Or if you're into earning respect points-which you can earn in the game but I don't know what they're good for exactly-you can shoot the guns out of their hands and force them to surrender. As I mentioned before, you can hide behind crates, walls, etc. in order to evade bullets. Unfortunately, there is one mechanic that FPS players have come to know and love and expect from their games: leaning around corners and offing guys. If you wanna pop a guy from around your little corner...well you can't. You have to put yourself on full display in order to shoot people which means that you may end up taking heavy fire and you can die before you blow two people away. There is an upside though. You can always toss a grenade at a horde of yakuza. The problem is that you have to swing the nunchuck upwards to roll a grenade along the ground which is a pain in the ass sometimes seeing as how the motion controls are a bit unresponsive and your grenade won't always leave your hand. When you do successfully throw it away, though, it doesn't always go where you want it to. Your grenade may roll off to the side or just two feet in front of you threatening to blow you to hell instead the guy around the corner from you. Well enough about the gun action, let's talk about the sword fights. Everybody enjoys hacking foes to bits so doing it with motion controls should be a fun and maybe even educational experience, right? Don't we all wish it were so. Apparently, in Japanese culture, if a guy comes at you with his sword you are obligated to whip yours out and engage in sword-to-sword combat to the death despite the fact that you'd love to just blow him away with your pistol. Your opponents wield one blade and you wield two: the katana (longsword) and a tonto (short sword) which is used for defense. Your able to black and dodge your opponents swings and he can do the same thing which gets really annoying since all they ever do is dodge your shots. as you may have guessed, you use the Wiimote to swing your sword and the nunchuck to block. With your swords you can perform special moves which don't always work and thus you are left with horizontal and vertical slashes. No thrusting whatsoever. Warning: sword fights are more annoying than fun. At the end of each battle, when you're standing victorious you have the option to either spare him and gain his respect or kill him. Although, if you choose to kill him, don't expect a nice decapitation seeing as how the game is rated T for Teens. Instead you...hit him over the head with the hilt of your blade? Thanks a lot Ubisoft. This game could've been bloodier and better but someone was a bit lazy with the production.
This game is a lot of fun until it comes to the sword battles which is where it falls flat on its behind. The replay value is on the low side since there's no real reason to play through it again after the first time unless you want to get better rankings in your missions. While I say that this game is definitely worth playing, I wouldn't recommend buying it. Rent it first.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Red Steel (US, 11/19/06)
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