Red Steel (Wii)
Developed by Ubisoft Paris
Published by Ubisoft
Released November 19, 2006
Review Written December 29, 2013
Happy New Years everyone! To ring in the New Year I’m finally bringing my Wii out from hiding with Red Steel this week. Developed by Ubisoft Paris as an exclusive Wii launch title, Red Steel aimed to utilize the Wii’s motion controls while giving the player the semblance of being a yakuza who wields a katana and several firearms. My overall experience with Red Steel was a bit rough with a few patches of sunshine, but those few patches were not enough to stifle my growing disinterest in this game.
Within the first few minutes of starting Red Steel’s eight hour single player campaign, I knew I would be in for a bumpy ride. I found the controls to be a bit glitchy and hard to master; the feeling of riding a bucking bronco never goes away as even near the end of the game I was still reeling from controller frustrations. The game’s camera is controlled by the wiimote’s reticle and when it comes into contact with any edge of your television screen your character’s vision is moved in that direction. Often this was very difficult to control as you would inch too far and miss the view you wanted to obtain when targeting enemies. This lead me to play Red Steel not as a free flowing first person shooter, but more as a first person rail shooter like Time Crisis in order to avoid dealing with the fickle camera controls and focus on obliterating the enemies ahead of me.
Yet even with this tactic, faster moving enemies would flank you out of view and cause you to start from your previous checkpoint after dying. I eventually gained some grasp on the camera’s control but often made it by with the luck of blindly firing at enemies. This too was often straining as Red Steel would occasionally have a reticle glitch where the reticle would jump back to the center of the screen even when not aimed there. The lagging controls and horrid camera control scheme truly hindered my ability to enjoy this game. Many moments I found myself yelling obscenities at the screen when the wiimote reticle would be taken control by satan and decide that that very moment was the time to practice new wave dance moves.
Far worse than the awful camera control and shooting mechanics was the main facet of the game, the sword fighting; a sad shell of what should have been. Throughout most of the game, the swordplay was pitiful as you wouldn’t even need to try and you would still win the sword fights through wild wagging of the wiimote. Sword fights instantly became difficult in the latter half of the game, which completely took me by surprise when most of the sword fights required no effort to win. The later matches had me a bit lost as I didn’t even bother to learn or use the skill moves shown earlier in the game. In my opinion this is terrible game structure as you are given the moves but never have the real need for them until the end of the game where most of the players have already become comfortable with a certain play style with the sword fights. The swordplay mechanics became am additional headache displacing what little enjoyment I started to gain from this game.
The last two aspects that helped derail this roller coaster of delight were the glitchy environments and Red Steel’s plot. A few times I fell through a floor or went through a wall only to become stuck in the object I shouldn’t have been able to walk into in the first place. This caused me to restart my checkpoints a handful of times and often ruined what little immersion that was left. As for Red Steel’s mediocre story, it focused too much on being an American wandering around Japan while littering the game with clichéd plot twists and an unfulfilling ending. Most of the time I was so focused on surviving, not falling through the floor, and painfully dragging myself through the game that I didn’t really pay much attention with exception to the abysmal ending.
Even with so much of Red Steel being as enjoyable as eating lemon peels, the small saving graces for the main campaign were the cut scene stylization, the hilariously awful voice acting, and the quick load times. The cut scenes had the styling similar to the Max Payne series with comic type paintings and cutouts, but sans the noire elements. This was often paired with horrendous voice acting that made me reminiscent of cheesy chopsocky martial arts films. I often found myself giggling whenever the voice actors would talk but quickly shift emotions in an attempt of deception. The load times are also fairly quick, which is a blessing with how many times I had to restart my save file. Additionally, Red Steel also contains a four player multiplayer mode but I couldn’t bring myself to punish any of my friends with it.
Enduring all that Red Steel had to throw at me, it didn’t really have much to bring to the table. It wasn’t the worst game I had ever played but was still a pretty bad game. Though, in my opinion, the game would have been more enjoyable if the camera and motion controls were more refined and not so finicky. Lacking controls, a cheap story, and broken mechanics made for an overall horrible experience as well as my first reviewed game that I’d recommend to skip. Don’t waste your time and avoid playing Red Steel, unless you’re a glutton for punishment.
Review Written by John of The Time Heist