With the arrival of the next-gen consoles almost upon us, we thought it would be a good time to look back at some games from launches gone by. Or in other words, to have a laugh at some old rubbish. So here's Eurogamers guide to five terrible games from platform launches past.
But of course, they weren't all bad - coming soon, look out for our video of Five Amazing Launch Titles, plus Five Launch Titles You've Forgotten About That Were Quite Good Actually Come To Think Of It. We're also planning to do a six-hour video of Ken Kutaragi playing Fantavision while talking about the Emotion Engine and crying, but he won't return our texts.
Whilst working through the first few levels of Red Steel, I kept being reminded of GoldenEye, and I couldn't figure out why. It wasn't the weapons, it wasn't the excellent level design (unfortunately that's something Red Steel cannot boast), it wasn't similar environments or familiar set-pieces or anything else immediately obvious. Then, suddenly, I realised that it was because it looked like GoldenEye - these were the same blocky characters, fuzzy textures and juddering framerates as I was seeing in 1998 with my N64 running through a blurry old RF lead. Obviously it's not quite as bad as that, certainly not when you remember to switch the Wii into 480p mode, but Red Steel's sheer ugliness is immediately and continuously noticeable. It looks half-finished, like a work-in-progress, linear levels punctuated by story-board sequences of stills that try to pass themselves off as cut-scenes.
And it's a real shame, because Red Steel has its moments. The immediacy of the control and small selection of inspired settings (a geisha house, or a Japanese garden, or a twisted amusement park) sometimes combine to make this an exhilarating, explosive action experience. There is an undercurrent of chaos running through Red Steel, and when the screen explodes into action and enemies come running out from every corner and forklifts start spontaneously blowing up and you're on your feet, shooting wildly at the screen whilst trying to run backwards into cover, you want to love it, you really do. But Red Steel feels just as often dated and incomplete as it does thrilling, and though the controls sometimes do much to make a great experience out of a fairly average game, it's never quite as good as you want it to be.
Red Steel follows the story of a faceless, voiceless American named Scott as he tries to infiltrate the Tokyo Yakuza in order to rescue his fiancée, the daughter of an influential boss whose Los Angeles hotel is ransacked at the beginning of the game. It's not exactly the most believable portrayal of the mafiosa underground in the world, but it does provide a plausible excuse for setting the majority of the game in neon-lit urban Japan, which is occasionally its saving grace. The missions themselves are extremely linear, although you do sometimes get to choose which order to pursue them in. With two or three exceptions, they are straightforward - get from one end of the level to the other, shooting lots and lots of gangmen and pulling out a sword for the more challenging foes. It's not a story that you'll particularly care about, but the B-movie voice acting and plot twists fit the action well.
Ubisoft has demonstrated its confidence in Nintendo Wii with the promise of seven titles at launch.
The French publisher had previously announced Red Steel and Rayman Raving Rabbids for Wii, and this week followed it up with talk of Far Cry, Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII, Monster 4x4 World Circuit, Open Season and GT Pro Series.
A disputed French version of the publisher's press announcement also made reference to a Prince of Persia Wii title, although that release was soon retracted and reworded to reference other, unnamed games also in development.
Ubisoft has confirmed that its first title for the Nintendo Revolution will be Red Steel, an action game which will work with the console's unique 'freestyle' remote controller.
As revealed earlier this week, Red Steel is set in present day Japan, and will see players taking on Yakuza mobsters using both guns and katanas. The game is in development at Ubisoft Paris, and is being worked on by team members whose previous credits include Prince of Persia, Far Cry Instincts and Ghost Recon.
Ubisoft's chief creative officer, Serge Hascoet, said that he believes Red Steel - which will launch alongside the new console - will be a "must-have" title.