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Nintendo Wii Review: Red Steel

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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.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
  • Chillspace

    I have to beg to differ on your review of this game’s controls. First of all, yes it is breaking new ground on a new controller scheme so there will definitely be a learning curve. The controls actually do work quite well…With a bit of time, I was able to run, gun & strafe like any FPS on one of other consoles. I do agree that the sensitivity should be a bit better but Ubisoft, IMO, has done a fantastic job. One thing for certain, FPS’s will be much better on this platform than any other due to the immersion is provides.

  • Scott Leader

    I think you are being slighty harsh on this game, having played it i do feel that controls are patchy in parts, and the sword fighting sections are a bit lacking howver you cannot deny that it is one of the most visually pleasing Wii launch titles alognside Twilight Princess, I have to say that it is one of the most enjoyable first person shooters i have played and stands proud on my shelf alongside Goldeneye 007 on the N64 and Timsplitters 2 on my PS2. It has voice overs for the characters and although it is a little cheesy and unintentionally funny i feel that it adds a depth to the game that wouldn’t have been there had it been just text like Twilight Princess, the music is increadibly atmospheric and combined with the detail and textures definatly gives the impresion that the Wii can hold it’s own against the other “current gen” consoles. I wouldn’t call Red Steel a failure of a game, but it does show other developers the building blocks of how a first person shooter could be done on the Wii, instead of slagging the game off in all directions why dont you congratulate Ubisoft for taking a brave and daring approach by taking on the challenge of creating the first 1st person shooter for the Wii. I hardly think the storyline is laughable either, i think it is a sign that Nintendo is gorwing up and open to fresh ideas and is willing to work with developers and take a risk, trying new ideas, unlike those other manufactures who stick to the same old “same game different title better graphics” approach, the game may not be perfect but it tries to be different and if you approach the game with an open mind it is a rewarding experience, it took me just over 10 hours to complete the 1 player story but the multiplayer is where this games strengths lie.

  • Ryan

    I myself having played the game for 20 solid hours have to totally disagree i feel the controls are commendable as stand out moments and help the gamer immersify in ways no 360 or PS2 title has yet achieved.

  • “instead of slagging the game off in all directions why dont you congratulate Ubisoft for taking a brave and daring approach by taking on the challenge of creating the first 1st person shooter for the Wii.”

    Because they’re not the first. Call of Duty 3 launched right alongside of it, and it’s not like a FPS is an innovative game. It’s logical that the remote would look/point. Anyone who saw the controller would realize that.

    Graphically, the game is gorgeous. However, when the game randomly seems to glitch and send your character into a spinning frenzy, it’s inexcusable. Also, I didn’t even mention that coming out of the sword fighting is completely diorienting, and doesn’t allow you to get reset in time.

    Most of the postives you mention Scott are audio and visual. None of that matters aside from helping it show the console off a bit.

    This will be THE genre for the Wii, especially when we get one online with solid controls. Don’t take what you’re given because it’s all you have. A decent FPS will come along soon enough.

  • Matt when will you learn, gameplay simply isn’t everything. As time moves on and games evolve, so too must every part of the game. INCLUDING GRAPHICS. One of my problems with Red Steel was not being able to see enemies off in the distance when you were sniping because of the low resolution.

    Also the game does not randomly glitch and just spin you around. Try keeping your remote aimed at the screen that’s all it takes. You may also want to look for light bulbs the remote may be seeing because they’ll screw up pointer recognition.

    Presonally i love Red Steel and think it’s a great example of what an FPS can hope to become. Let face it, this is the most innovative change to the genre in a long time.

  • Yes, the game’s controls do glitch, quite a bit. IGN said the same thing:

    “In addition, this is the only Wii launch game whose controls seem to occasionally glitch out for no obvious reason; one second your reticule is on-screen and everything responding and in the next it has jumped around several inches or more without any input.”

    It happens especially when you turn quickly. I refuses to register that the pointer is back on the screen. I died more because of this than any other reason. I have no problems playing any other game, lights on or not.

    The graphics debate is one that’s far too meaty to get going here, and I’m pretty sure we’ve done it before.

    “it’s a great example of what an FPS can hope to become”

    Hope being the key word in that statment.

  • Well Matt i seem to have no major problem with the controls and even IGN UK was far more understanding then IGN was. Maybe it’s a cultural thing that you can’t stand it, but i love it and have reviewed it to such an effect. Whenever that review gets posted.

  • xXBrudu BXx

    i really think that you made a huge mistake with your criticism of this game. I have played it, i have beaten it, and I thought it was a fantastic game. Although i do agree about the cursor randomly moving wildly after a few minutes it stopped for the most part, and then this leads me to my knowledge as to why you do not like this game. You’re not good at it. Everyone that i know that doesnt like this game isn’t good at it. They can’t control the character, and they can’t aim right. I personally think that they need more practice. I can pick up the AE Rifle, 7 rounds, 7 kills all quick scope. I was upset because I think it was too easy to kill as many people as I did. After 5 mionutes of playing, I didn’t miss a shot. In the first level, after i got out from the room with the bar, and i got about half way through the part with the room with the stairs I got pretty much all head shots. The grenades I had trouble with at first, but, in time, I got used to having that much control, and was able to play with ease. The sword fights were also good. I’d have loved to have complete control over the sword, but what they did is good for gamers that would not be able to handle a sword as well as other gamers. The control and timing was still improtant. I also was always able to find a patern that helped me win, as sword fighters do have a technique. Also, just because you think that “Oh, well, there are a hundread guns laying around, so why would he pick up a pipe?” You’re thinking to logically. It gives the game a different feel. But if it makes you feel better the ninjas make up for it coming at you completely silently and I wouldn’t have known theywere there if they hadn’t started shooting at me. So I think your review of this game was a mistake and that you should go back and just play and especially now that you are better at aiming you may be able to enjoy it the way that I did. I think that it was an amazing game, though anti-climatic. But still fantastic

  • levi

    red steel is hella tight i cant wait to get my wii for christmas

  • this game is awsome man