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Red Steel 2 is a hardcore Wii game -- a rarity. It joins Madworld, Dead Space Extraction, The Conduit and House of the Dead Overkill in offering something for the old time hardcore gamer. But for all the fan service and lightsaber sword-work, on the Wii the experience feels a little solitary.
If you hadn't realised already, this is the follow up to the Red Steel Wii launch game. Back then no one really understood what the Wii was all about, or whether it would sell. Consequently it simply took Time Splitters and James Bond from the Gamecube and ported it straight to Nintendo's new console with added waggle sword fights and pointing based shooting. It was a game that worked on its own merits, and limits of the technology, but struggle to connect with an interested audience.
Red Steel 2 is back to put that straight, and starts with a strong experience built around the high fidelity controls of a MotionPlus enabled Wii-mote. This is sword fighting par excellence. The detail of movement from the Wii controller combined with the cell shaded western setting creates an atmosphere that is both tense and compelling. But more importantly, it creates something not possible on any other console - at least not until the 360 motion controls arrive in the form of Natal, or the PS3's Move controllers are available.
Stepping into Red Steel 2 is something you won't forget. First baby steps with the sword are compelling. The game takes it easy on you for a while - a little too easy for my taste. There are a lot of fetch quests and running around between different sword wielding lessons. I'd have preferred to jump into a fully armed-up version of the game and learn as I experimented.
You have a flexible combat system that rewards imaginative approaches as much as sheer execution
As it stands, you have to earn some of the more interesting moves and weapons, which feels like Red Steel 2 is holding back the goodies to keep you playing. They could in fact have had more confidence in the experience as a whole. The western premise is one that holds the eye and keeps you playing regardless of the rewards along the way.
Once you do have access to that full set of moves, and combine this with a variety of guns and general movement, you have a flexible combat system that rewards imaginative approaches as much as sheer execution. When you have a collection of enemies to face -- the majority of the time -- they feel sufficiently challenging. Whittle them down to just a few and you soon realise the AI is not as nuanced here as it needs to be. In a world of totally believable enemies of Halo and Modern Warfare, Red Steel sometimes feels a little like going through the motions with its robotic foes.
There's no need to labour the point -- it really is a minor problem. But next to Wii-Sports Resort's Mii based swordplay and multiplayer battles, Red Steel can feel a little solitary. Although some may see this as a negative, those that want a hardcore challenge will relish the experience here.
Rather than pander to a casual audience it has kept its sights on the died-in-the-wool long time player.
Red Steel 2 has stuck to its guns. Rather than pander to a casual audience it has kept its sights on the died-in-the-wool long time player. Because of this it stands out on the Wii. The experience is unusual in its violent overtones and uncompromising combat, but it is unique because of the pixel perfect MotionPlus swordplay.
I became too distracted with Wii-Sports to invest very much time with the original, and I know there is a danger for history to repeat itself for me with this sequel and Wii-Sports Resort. But also, I know that Red Steel 2 deserves more of my time. Whereas the original was simply more of the same from the previous generation, this is something entirely new.
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