Red Steel was one of the most highly anticipated games for the Wii. The mix of guns and swordplay coupled with the Wii Remote promised to be both a novel and exciting idea. Unfortunately, the game suffers from poor execution and a number of style issues that severely hamper what could have been a great title.
The first indication that something was amiss with Red Steel was the incongruence between the game's title and the game's rating. Something titled "Red Steel" promises plenty of action and blood; even the box art evokes memories of the splatter-fest movie Kill Bill. But the game is stuck with a 'T for Teen' rating, so you know right off the bat that the action is going to be decidedly PG-13.
So, the game isn't as gory as I would have liked. At least it's fun, right? Not so fast. First, the much anticipated control scheme doesn't work so well. It makes a good attempt at taking advantage of the Wii Remote's capabilities but it's implemented unevenly. You move with the Nunchuck's analogue control stick, aim with the remote and shoot with the B button. Actions like reloading, opening doors and hitting switches are done by moving the nunchuck attachment around.
It's a good idea, and will probably work well in further implementations but the default sensitivity is set way too low in Red Steel. Going into the options menu and tweaking it makes things marginally better, though.
And what of the other big novelty draw of Red Steel, the sword fights? Surely that lives up to expectations, right? Sadly, no. The entire thing feels like a slapped together affair. Every time a gangster with a sword appears and you draw your sword, you can't help but ask yourself, "Wouldn't it be easier to just blow him away with my shotgun like I did to the last thirty of his friends?" Yes, but I suppose it's dishonourable or something like that.
There isn't a lot of depth to attacking as you can only swing horizontally and vertically, and defence is done with the nunchuck, which takes getting used to. Despite all this, I still found myself enjoying myself during the katana battles- at least until they reached a level of difficulty that is sure to drive anyone up the wall.
The graphics don't help the game either. The game is not a looker. The environments are mostly clean and have a lot of objects in them to duck and dodge around, but both they and the character models are stiff and unimpressive. Also, the cut scenes are done with still-frame images with a streaky look imposed on them that renders everything hazy and stiff-looking that does nothing to get you into the story.
If you're taking a break from the single player mode, you'll find that the multiplayer mode's feel is decidedly Goldeneye-esque, but with less of the addictive fun and is just as dated. There are three modes in multiplayer: Deathmatch (traditional frag-fest), Team Deathmatch (frag-fest with teams) and Killer. Killer mode is the more interesting option, involving specific objectives given to each player. Unfortunately, the divided screen makes the difficult aiming scheme even more difficult and robs the multiplayer of any fun.
5 / 10