Two things made Red Steel stand out prior to its release. One was its launch titles status, the other were the controls. It can live up to being a launch title; it fails miserably when you try to play it.
Digging into a generic plot involving the Yakuza, Red Steel is borderline absurd, even for a video game. A mix of gun and swordplay, this first-person shooter has brief flashes of success before completely collapsing as if somewhere in the code there was a self-destruct button. When it’s on, it’s on. Sadly, those moments are few.
The only highlight worth mentioning are the environments. For the most part, they’re fully destructible. The level design works around explosive objects to create a chaotic environment, filled with sparks and flames from every angle. This is when the game is at its best, though the AI blatantly stands in one spot waiting to be taken out by whatever object lies near.
Aiming is where Red Steel becomes a problem. The Nunchuck attachment takes care of the movement, while the Wii Remote handles aiming and looking. In practice, it’s the set up that will carry all future Wii first-person shooters. What a developer needs to do is ensure they’re useable.
With three separate chances to get it right, the sensitivity options all fail. It’s haphazard to aim at a specific target. The cursor flails wildly around the screen. The supposed help from the aiming mechanism is broken as well. You’ll aim manually with more accuracy.
Even if you finally become a decent judge of movement, you’ll need to deal with the occasional lapse in turning. If you slightly aim off the screen, your character begins spinning uncontrollably. The only way to stop it is to aim back at the screen, which only turns out more disorienting than the spinning.
Other controls include grenade throwing, wasted by allowing to be rolled across the ground. A knock-off bullet time effect is convoluted beyond all rationale thought due to the complexity of activating it. Opening a door requires a quick flick of the wrist, one of the few things that work.
Red Steel tries to separate itself with sword fighting. Controls here are touchy as well. They’re not particularly accurate either, seemingly performing a random animation instead of mimicking the player’s motion. From a story standpoint, these battles are laughable. When attacking a car repair shop with hundreds of guns lying around, would someone pick up a pipe to begin an honorable fight? If beaten, would they bow down as a show of respect? It’s a ridiculous idea.
Sword play is deleted from split-screen multi-player, and that’s a step towards the positive. There’s a bizarre mode in which the players receive “phone calls” through the Wii Remote giving the specific instructions to earn more points. It’s a nice idea if the game had online support, but when the players are in the same room sitting next to you, it’s impossible to hide the information you’re given as it blares from your controller.
Playing any mode with a standard controller would reveal Red Steel’s shallow innards. Aside from the input device, Red Steel offers nothing new or innovative. A few explosion-prone areas provide some cheap thrills, but by the fourth level, the game has lost all momentum. That’s assuming you’ll fight the controls long enough to get that far.
Red Steel is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Violence, Language.Powered by Sidelines