Tech News on G4
'Dragon' goes up in flames
Apr 20, 2010
By John Powell - G4 Canada
In 2006, Ubisoft's original 'Red Steel' was one of the launch titles for the Wii. While some thought the title was weighed down by some pesky bugs, it was two notches above "Okay" for me. The virtual sword fights and gun battles went well hand-in-hand and made full use of the innovative Wiimote working with the Nunchuck controller.
Four years later, the stakes are now a lot higher. The Wii's honeymoon has been over for quite some time. It takes much more than just a flick of the wrist to impress us now. Utilizing the Wii Motionplus add-on, 'Red Steel 2' is an improvement over the original when it comes to gameplay mechanics but the format is strangely familiar.
Taking its cue from the best spaghetti westerns, you are a banished stranger returning to his hometown to find it overrun with pitiless underworld thugs. Firearm in one hand and katana in the other, you get ready to take out the trash.
Unlike 'Red Steel', you have a home base (a Dojo) in the sequel. In point of fact, you have more than one throughout the city. You can complete training exercises there with your Sensai, accept and keep track of your missions and buy-upgrade weapons. The Dojo concept is a sensible addition giving the game a measure of cohesiveness that 'Red Steel' didn't have at all. Being able to pick and choose tasks doesn't make you feel as if you are just being railed along. The way in which the missions are constructed, allowing you to wander around the town, also pushes 'Red Steel 2' off those tiresome rails.
Ubisoft has taken one step further in addressing the predictable nature by inserting some timing sequences such as when you find yourself clinging to a moving vehicle by your fingernails. As you try to stay onboard and not become road kill, you also have to make life very difficult for the driver who is trying to shake you off like nobody's business.
The biggest improvement overall though has been made in the swordplay mechanic. In 'Red Steel', you could just shake the Wiimote like a madman and your insane flurry of attacks would eventual overwhelm the competition. Not so with 'Red Steel 2'. The techniques and strategies you must use, both defensively and offensively, are quite elaborate, especially when you factor in your ever reliable firearm too.
With titles like 'Splinter Cell', the Tom Clancy releases and 'FarCry', Ubisoft is known for really strong and engaging storylines. Regrettably, that is where 'Red Steel 2' trips up. The character development is weak and most times you aren't even sure the overall purpose of the missions you are going out on or what impact they have leaving the plot hanging by mere threads. Sure wish there was a lot more meat on these bones then things would make much more sense and you would feel as if your actions are serving a greater purpose.
With 'Red Steel 2' Ubisoft has made some great strides here. We can see the swordplay mechanic being used in all sorts of ways, perhaps in the next 'Prince of Persia' release or better yet, a 'Star Wars' title for the Wii. How awesome would that be? As far as 'Red Steel 2' goes, it won't give the Wii the shot in the arm it needs right now but it does make the waiting that much more tolerable.
'Red Steel 2'
Rating: 7 / 10
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