I find myself both pleased and disappointed in “Red Steel 2.” I think I talked to a french guy while I was playing the game so I assume he was the game’s developer, but even he didn’t seem very excited about the french developed sequel/reboot to Wii launch title “Red Steel.” Here’s the real skinny on “Red Steel 2;” the gameplay mechanics are tremendously improved over the first game, as is the art style. The title looks fantastic and the samurai cowboy theme is preferable to the lame Yakuza motif of the first title. However, based on the demo, the game is now simply boring. I almost feel like I’d have more fun if they moved this improved controls to the first game, along with the new cel shaded graphics, and let me play those levels. I could not believe how mind numbingly boring the demo level was.
It started off with promise. There was a small intro teaching me how to aim guns by shooting hinges on gates to progress. This was effective and really gave me a good sense of how much more improved the aiming was over the first title. The environments also feature a lot of destructible goodies like the first game did, which is a plus. I was told my the mysterious french man – let’s call him Glass Joe – that the player would actually be rewarded with money for what they destroy. I’m not sure how that backwards sort of logic works, but I like the concept. What would the money be used for? Who knows! I honestly forgot to ask. Maybe you can buy weapons or rainbows.
Shooting enemies felt pretty darn good, honestly. Sword fighting felt merely okay. It’s a hard thing to critique because the control for it was so much better than the first title, but slicing into a man with a katana and not instantly killing him still feels weird. Overall, I have no complaints with it. You can also parry by holding the A button and holding your wiimote up as if you really wanted to block a sword. It’s intuitive once you remember to actually hold the darn A button and I hated the stupid nunchuck blocking maneuver of the last game anyway. They are much closer to making me feel like I’m actually wielding a sword. You’re going to want to actually swing instead of make quick wrist movements here, and the faster you swing the more powerful your strike. How fun! If only I didn’t accidentally hit people almost every time I did so. Swinging faster is also required for knocking the armor off some enemies before you can shoot or slash at them. It was a nice bit of combat. I still can thrust my controller forward to stab, though.
But wait! When does the boredom set in? Oh, immediately. That’s when. The level design was atrociously boring. The levels were wide hallways with nothing in them, essentially. The amount of swordplay they wanted you to do meant you needed more room to maneuver so I guess hiding behind crates would’ve been a no go anyway. I still hate it though. It was just a boring empty feeling sort of world and each room was the same. Hit armor off guys, then shoot or stab them some more. Yay. The mini boss fight at the end of the demo wasn’t much more interesting, but he’s probably the first “tough” guy you encounter in the game so I can’t give him too much trouble. He’s big and has a sledgehammer. Your job is to get behind him and stab him. Simple enough.
“Red Steel 2” has a wonderful style and good controls, but I’m going to have to see some interesting levels for this single player only title to be worth it. I don’t want to judge it too harshly because it may have simply been a bad demo focused on giving you too much swordplay. We’ll have to see how the real game plays this fall.