Red Steel 2 (Wii) - Review by Chris



Coming out at the console launch in 2006, Red Steel was one of the first third party titles to receive success on the then new Nintendo Wii having now sold in the millions. But even with the sales success, critically, both from gamers and industry experts, the game was panned for shoddy controls and poor presentation. Having clearly taking these issues to heart, Ubisoft have spent a considerable amount of time realising the sequel, with several reboots at the drawing board stage. Now finally completed and in the hands of gamers, can memories of the first game be put to rest and replaced by memories of a much better game or does the sequel still suffer from the same problems?


Throwing on a brown overcoat and a stereotypical cowboy hat, you jump into the boots of a nameless warrior and from the opening sequence of the game, the pace is set for intense action. Waking up in a daze, you find your hands have been tied together, with the other end of the rope tied to a motorbike. Seeing you awake, what can only be described as a maniac kicks the bike into action and drags you through the desert ultimately finishing in the service ducts of the city of Caldera, where the help of some fire and a shot of your pistol help to free you from your captor. From here, you head out into the city in search of assistance and the rest of your clan in the hope of regaining your clan sword, stolen in the initial confrontation. Unfortunately, you soon find that your entire clan has been wiped out in an invasion leaving you as the sole remaining member of the Kusagari clan and so you set out to find the perpetrator of the attacks and exact revenge for your fallen comrades.

Unlike the first game, Red Steel 2 presents itself in a very different way. Whereas before you'd head back to a central dojo before heading to a new level, here you wander the streets, alleys and buildings of Caldera occasionally meeting allied characters, who'll help to provide some more substance to a story that quickly takes a backseat after the opening sequence, and picking up main story missions and side missions from a bulletin board. The training elements from before remain and before certain missions, or when you buy new combat moves, you'll be taught the specifics to utilise these techniques successfully out in the streets. In the original game, these training missions unfortunately missed the mark, thanks largely to unresponsive controls, but here, they are extremely helpful giving you access to a large variety of techniques which become increasingly necessary parts of your arsenal as you delve deeper into the game's city and story.

The main story missions usually revolve around heading to a specific area and taking out a target or returning power to a communication tower, amongst a small selection of other things, and while there may not be a large amount of variety within these main missions, the side missions provide some added substance encouraging your to step off of the main path to find and take down wanted posters, destroy enemy vehicles or reactivate communication towers so that townsfolk can alert you to troubles in their area, usually themselves taking on the form of side missions. While the game doesn't provide unlockables or substance based awards for doing these side missions, taking them on is beneficial to your progress as the cash rewards will help with buying weapon and armour upgrades as well as new combat moves. Similarly, exploring the environments and destroying the huge amounts of phone booths, barrels and crates will yield cash rewards and so taking the time to indulge in some sadistic destruction of the environment will ultimately be beneficial, although the tedium of doing so for prolonged periods of time with motion controls can wear on the player.

While the first game distanced the relationship between the sword and gun play, here the two are seamlessly connected with swings of the Wii-mote unleashing your sword and a simple tap of the B button shooting your gun. Primarily, your sword will be your weapon of choice and most of the enemies you'll encounter, of which there is a wide variety, will require you to make use of your sword in some way, either through attacking and finishing them off or for blocking strong attacks. With the swordplay taking such a prominent stance, it's a good thing that the gameplay is able to justify the new stance and using the sword now feels very intuitive and natural, both on the offense and defence with defence now being a big part of the gameplay as you'll rarely get a chance for a breather when confronted with groups of enemies as they'll all attempt to get at you at once making for some heated battles, especially against some of the boss characters when confined to a smaller area. Gun play this time round does take a slight back seat, with only 4 guns available to your throughout the entire game but with the purchase of certain combat moves, the guns can be used in conjunction with sword attacks for a lethal combo.

In all, the story will last you upwards of 10 hours with plenty to explore and plenty of action to satisfy your needs. Upon finishing, however, your only alternative mode is a Challenge mode where you can play through the chapters of the game again. It's disappointing not to have any multiplayer modes given how good the gameplay really is but hopefully that's something which can be remedied in a sequel. Yet, even with the lack of replay value, the gameplay is superb and the story provides plenty of high moments that make it worth multiple play-throughs but ultimately, your decision on whether to buy the game will hinge on whether you see yourself doing just that, but even if you don't, Red Steel 2 is a game whose gameplay makes it worth anyone's time to play.


Red Steel 2 is one of the first major third party titles that exclusively uses the Wii MotionPlus attachment to give a great amount of accuracy to the players. Without it, you can't play the game at all. Using the Wii-mote and Nunchuk, in combination with the MotionPlus attachment, you'll aim at the screen to look around the environments while the analogue stick covers movement. It's your typical setup for first person shooters on the console and seeing as it isn't broken, it doesn't need fixing.

With swordplay being integrated to a larger extent into the gameplay, the connectivity between using your gun and sword is handled surprisingly smoothly, with swings of the Wii-mote unleashing your sword and a quick tap of the B button bringing out your gun. It all works extremely well, with the MotionPlus giving greater accuracy to not only the aiming for your guns but also, thankfully, to the swordplay which was the first game's main issue. While it's not exactly the 1:1 detection gamers may have hoped for, the freedom that the attachment now gives in reading your movements brings it as close to being realistic as you could have hoped for, making it easy to swing together combinations of varying strengths of attacks. A handy automatic lock-on system is incorporated into the game but it occasionally doesn't detect taps of the Z button to change target making some of the bigger confrontations with groups a little more difficult than they should be. The MotionPlus attachment works steadily throughout the game and even if it goes out of synch slightly, merely pointing your Wii-mote at the screen sorts out the problem instantly.


Visually, Ubisoft have taken a completely different route with the sequel. Knowing that trying to make a realistic game on the console won't work, they've employed a cel-shaded comic book look, reminiscent of Gearbox's Borderlands, where Eastern architecture meets Western vistas to create a striking effect. The temple designs commonly seen in Japanese architect meld with the sandy surroundings of a desert city in an unusual mix at first but as you explore the city more and see how well designed and put together it all is, you'll love it. The only real issues with the city visually are the textures which, in some cases but not all, can look a little on the low resolution side with some rather noticeable pixel work, especially at some of the doors.

Character models show a good amount of variety, with all being animated extremely well and reacting realistically to bullets and sword swipes even with there being large groups one screen at once and lots of environmental jargon littering the streets. Unfortunately, you won't see much of the main character in game but what can be seen is extremely well animated, keeping in line with everything else.

The majority of the game's cutscenes take place out of the game, via pre-rendered sequences. These are of an exceptional quality, providing some great, dramatic sequences that never stray far from the overall quality of the in game graphics, with some even taking on the form of quick time events. It's an otherwise fantastic round out to a fantastic presentation.


Carrying on from the visuals, the game provides a soundtrack that mixes traditional Western style sounds with Eastern instruments to create a truly unique and moving experience. The level of atmosphere that the game manages to create simply through the music alone is startling, as music creates a level of ambience that fluctuates to punctuate each and every moment of the in game action while fully realising the combined aesthetical look of the city of Caldera through moody and moving tones. It really is one of the many high points of the game with some particularly fantastic tracks that will definitely linger long in the memory.

Away from the music, voice work has been provided for the pre-rendered and in game cutscenes and these fit the mood of the game nicely, with the dialogue being expertly delivered and to a high quality, although this can occasionally dip when moving around the city but it's never to any low level. Sound effects are similarly well done, with guns sounding realistic enough but also the feeling of being over the top. Just be prepared, however, to hear the same 'cha-ching' every time you pick up money. It does wear ever so slightly by the end.

Final comments

Not only have Ubisoft managed to dispel the issues of the first game but they've managed to create one of the best first person action experiences on the console. Red Steel 2 provides fantastic controls, superb visual and audio presentation and a single player mode that will entertain and excite those who play the game for the 10 hours or so with pure adrenaline fuelled fun. The lack of any significant replayability or multiplayer does hurt the title but as a single player experience, it's almost unrivalled in its enjoyment factor on the Wii and there's no doubt that some of the game's set pieces will easily be enough to pull gamers back for multiple play-throughs.

Pro: Motion controls that work extremely well this time round, brilliant single player, superb visuals and audio
Con: A few control hiccups, no multiplayer or real replayability
Final score: 8.7


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Boxart of Red Steel 2 (Wii)
Platform: Wii
Genre: FPS
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft