Review By: Matt Flanagan
|# Of Players:||1-4|
Anyone who followed the Wii's development will surely remember how hyped Red Steel was at one point. It was the first Wii game that most of us saw a screenshot for, and it seemingly promised great things. Sadly, when E3 came around and brought with it a demo, many grew skeptical. The controls didn’t work as well as they should have, and the game felt clumsy to control. Of course we shook it off, this was only a demo. Surely they’d clean it up by the time the final version came around, right? Sadly, it turns out that this wasn’t the case. The game still feels unpolished and mediocre. And unfortunately, the reason the game falls flat is the same reason the game got attention in the first place: the controls.
The game starts off with a painfully long cutscene (unfortunately there are a lot of long cutscenes in the game that you can’t skip) where you learn the story behind your relationship with your girlfriend, who’s father (Isao Sato) you’re about to meet. Just then the action starts, and you find yourself under attack by a power-hungry Yakuza boss. You control Scott, a character similar to Zork’s AFGNCAAP in that you never see your own face and are never given a description of your character, on a mission to stop the rival boss from taking over every Yakuza clan. The story reeks of B-movie values, but that shouldn't matter because the game is all about killing enemies, right? Well, it should be anyway…
The bad guys aren’t exactly the brightest and most challenging enemies around, and while they'll sometimes run and duck behind hiding spots, you’ll find that just as often as not they’ll do idiotic things ranging from standing in place (perhaps to show off how good they are at being an unmoving target?) to actually running in your direction as you shoot them. You can find hiding spots of your own, and doing so will make you next to invincible. All you have to do is stand behind something, shoot at the enemies that pop up, and then crouch and wait for your health bar to automatically fill up again. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Another thing that disappointed me is that your sword-fighting abilities, which were hyped in the game’s advertising as a major selling point, are restricted to use in boss fights while shooting is used for the rest of the game. Gone are my dreams of running nimbly around an army of enemies, skillfully cutting them down with a few well-placed sword techniques. When you’re walking around, you shoot. When you meet a “boss” character, you draw your sword and the two of you clumsily swing swords at each other. The end.
The problems don’t end there. The controls are original and unique, but honestly there are times where it feels like the developers never really checked to see if their control scheme was comfortable to use. The sword fights seem less like quick, skilled matches between veterans of the blade and more like two people who’ve never seen a sword before slowly swinging at each other, while you’re restricted to walking in a circle around your enemy and dodging out of his way as far as movements go. When it comes to normal movement, you move your character with the nunchuck. Turning is accomplished by pointing the Wiimote off the sides of the screen, which messes up your aim and isn't responsive enough for a game like this.
The graphics are decent but not fantastic, and the comic-esque cutscenes seem more like placeholders than a finished product. The destructable environments are interesting, but they don’t stop the game from getting feeling very "samey" after a while, and the constant repeating of enemy models really brings down the realism factor. The Wii isn’t the most powerful console on the market right now, but they could have done a lot better.
The music isn’t bad, but the voice acting is. The thick stereotypical Japanese accents sometimes make the characters hard to understand, and none of the dialogue is really memorable, which isn’t suprising since it's delivered by characters who themselves aren’t memorable. Which isn’t suprising since they’re part of a game that unfortunately seems destined to be forgotten.
I can basically sum up my Red Steel experience in four words that can be applied to any part of the game, "Why isn't it better?"
Posted: 2006-12-03 10:53:06 PST