‘Red Steel 2’ review

| Senior Cadenza Editor

MCT Campus

Before the Wii came out, there was a lot of hype over two games: “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess” and “Red Steel.” Given how the games are remembered nowadays, it may surprise readers to hear that the original “Red Steel” had nearly as much buzz around it as “Twilight Princess.” The trailers at the time paired the soft blue glow of the Wii’s disc tray with the impressive fidelity of a Wiimote that could at one moment be an Uzi and at the next moment be a sword.

Unfortunately, the Wiimote actually wasn’t as sensitive as Nintendo purported it to be, and this left Ubisoft in a bad situation, designing a game to use technology that didn’t yet exist. The reticule ended up being too jittery, and the sword fights were both too simple and too frustrating to control. In short, “Red Steel” stunk.

The first game may have sold a million copies, but there was no way Ubisoft would be able to pull the wool over gamers’ eyes again. The franchise was relegated to the long list of console-launch casualties, alongside “Perfect Dark Zero” for the Xbox 360 and “NFL QB Club 2002” for the GameCube.

The only way Ubisoft could salvage the series was by doing…not what it did in the first game. Tear down the wallpaper and wax the floors. Keep the name, but change everything else to show all the saps who bought your first game that you are sorry, and ensure them that this new game will live up to the promise your first game once had.

Well, here comes “Red Steel 2,” sporting a new cel-shaded look, a Wild West atmosphere and a silent protagonist, while vowing to right what went wrong in the first game. Swordplay is hard to pull off, but with the help of Wii Motion Plus, swinging the Wii’s remote like a sword feels absolutely fantastic. Part of the positive impression might have to do with the fact that the years have chipped away at Nintendo’s ideal vision of the Wiimote’s capabilities, but most of it comes from the smoothness with which you can level an enemy grunt. That’s not to say that the game lets you swing easy; you’ll have to swing hard to knock the armor off enemies, and after a long day’s work of hacking, your arms will scream in pain.

Speaking of pain, the story and voice acting leave something to be desired. You play the last of a Kusagari clan, on a mission to avenge his fallen swordsman—you know, right after you retrieve the stolen gold. Well, after you turn on that control tower. And after you activate the watermill. The game is constantly sending you out on mandatory assignments that would be given to you as sidequests in other games. They’re mundane and mostly pointless, but even at their worst, at least the missions offer up chances to beat some baddies.

In one fluid motion, you can rear back and swipe to your left, knocking the enemy to his knees, and then you can switch gears, rush forward and thrust your sword into his gut. It has to be mentioned that at any time you can twirl your revolver into action and fire bullets at will. The combat is special. If it could be described in a word, it would be “cool.” Three words? Natural and rewarding. Twenty-two? You might say it is four years too late, but “Red Steel 2” is (finally) showing us what the Wii can do.