Red Steel 2 is the sequel to the first Red Steel, which was a launch title for the Wii. It was developed by Ubisoft Paris, and launched in late March 2010. The title is only available on the Nintendo Wii.
The player character is a nameless swordsman who seeks revenge after a gang captured him, dragged him behind a bike, and left him for dead. It turns out that this gang, The Jackals, have occupied a nearby town and are causing hell. It’s time to draw your mythical katana to slay these fiends and save the town. What story there is in Red Steel 2 is very minimal: there are 1st-person cut-scenes and the occasional cinematic showcasing your character’s acrobatic prowess; other than that, the story is non-existent, which may put some players off.
Red Steel 2 has seven chapters, each of which has the player completing missions around several unique areas. There’s always a main mission to follow – such as opening up a gate or lowering a bridge – and your task is easily marked on a map shown on the lower left corner of your HUD (heads-on display). Green arrows show which doorway you should enter through to reach the primary objective. Meanwhile, there are also side missions – that are good for earning money – which involve tasks like activating beacons, destroying Jackal trucks, and eliminating wanted posters placed around the city. Occasionally, you’ll get into battle with the Jackal gang or even a boss character. The nice thing about this is your health regenerates fully once a battle is completed.
There’s a fair amount of different enemies who are gradually introduced through the game. The earliest enemies are un-armoured goons, who will attack with either swords or guns that can be easily deflected. As you progress, you meet a hammering hothead whose weakness is his backside, a chain-gunner who isn’t shy about letting you meet each and every one of his bullets, and a dancer who loves showing off his agile acrobatics. Even the bosses are varied each with a different fighting style and attack pattern.
Combat-wise, Red Steel 2 only works with the MotionPlus attachment which in some bundles it is sold with. The swordplay of Red Steel 2 works very well, it’s very fast and fluid, and most importantly it’s a lot of fun to do. You hold the Wiimote up like a sword, parrying bullets and attacks by holding the A button. Some opponents will signal where they’re going to attack, so it’s up to you to move the Wiimote accordingly to defend. Attacker signalling he’s going to strike vertically? Defend by holding the blade horizontally, and vice versa.
You can use a wide assortment of attacks with your trusty blade. You can stab enemies, do weak attacks, or make broad motions with your arm to perform strong blows. This is perfect for enemies wearing heavy armour that can only be penetrated by strong attacks. The same rules apply when attacking: if an opponent is holding up their sword vertically to parry, you attack vertically to beat his block. Again, the reverse is also true. There are many special finishers you learn, purchase, and acquire throughout the game. These are performed through different button combinations and Wiimote motions. One is unleashed by holding down the fire button and locking onto up to three enemies before releasing the trigger. This slows down time and blasts every baddie with a bullet that is within range. Others involve moving behind the foe with a horizontal slash, performing a heavy stab into an enemy’s heart, and leaping into the air before driving down your sword into the unfortunate bad guy.
When a foe is staggering after taking so many hits, that’s when the real fun begins. You can take out an adversary using a variety of ways. An icon will appear over the foe’s head, signalling what you need to do to defeat them. Sometimes a simple stab or slap to the head with the brunt of your blade will work, but at other times it’s more advantageous to use one of the aforementioned finisher moves. Not only do these moves earn you more reward money, but they are just damn cool to see even through repeated viewings.
Speaking of money, you earn cold, hard cash through battle as well as by smashing boxes, barrels, and other breakables. There’s also hidden tokens worth 5,000 and shoot-able tokens worth 3,000 that are cleverly dotted throughout the game’s locales. You spend your cash at one of three different shops, buying new finishing moves, hidden powers, guns and weapon upgrades, health and armour boosters, and much more. By the end of the game, you are one bad-ass swordsman.
But the swordplay is only 3/4 of the equation. There’s also the gunplay which works awesomely as well. You just hit the fire button to ready your gun at any time, even mid-sword fight. There are four guns to purchase, and each one can be upgraded to fire faster, have more firepower, and reload faster. You can fire a shot into an opponent’s knee, and while they’re dazed, go in for the kill! Unfortunately, guns become rather useless late in the game where every enemy can dodge your bullets effortlessly or they wear heavy armour.
Red Steel 2 will probably take competent players anywhere from 10-12 hours to complete. There are three difficulties to choose from as well as a challenge mode where players can tackle any of the seven chapters, arcade-style, shooting and slicing for the high score. Although just another way to make get more money for upgrades, searching for all of the secret tokens is another way to get the most out of the game.
Red Steel 2 supports a stunning cel-shaded art style with beautiful scenery, towns, and other areas. Everything is colourful, crisp, and wonderful to look at. There’s an impressive mix of Wild West meets Ancient East. However, load times are masked rather poorly by Nintendo’s typical door-opening sequences (Resident Evil Zero, anyone?). It can look quite pathetic seeing your character struggle to pound open a door for the fifth time. Regardless, it’s a necessary evil to keep the loading manageable in the grand scheme of things. Another potential problem for people is that there is no blood. Instead, enemies fall into dust. You can be sure this was to keep the game’s rating at a “T”. On the sound side of things, the voice work is passable albeit imperfect, and the soundtrack is appropriate if not very memorable. Tom Salta has done well with this score.
From the fast and frenzied swordplay to the fun and feverish gunplay, Red Steel 2 hits its mark splendidly and creates one wild ride from beginning to end. Yes, there could have been something on the lines of multiplayer, but what is here is a strong, solid foundation for further games or dare I say, sequels. For those of you who were disappointed with the original Red Steel, you may take the sequel as a personal apology from the developers. Tech-demo this is not.
This game was reviewed on the Nintendo Wii.
Great graphics, Great Gameplay, Great improvement on first game
No multiplayer, forgettable music, frequent loading screens.
Because turning the gun sideways wasn't badass enough.