Red Steel Wii Review

The Wii Remote and its Nunchuck attachment were always going to do some great service to the FPS genre. The remote being used to move your sights around and the nunchuck coming into use for that all important movement certainly makes perfect sense. Ubisoft’s Red Steel was one of the titles that showed early what the Wii’s innovative controller was capable of, but now that we have got the controller combination sitting firmly in our hands, does it live up to its promise?

Your Fiancee is kidnapped, her father is murdered and you find yourself in the middle of a gang war. Whilst Red Steel’s storyline isn’t particularly compelling, it’s still a decent narrative to justify your gun-toting and sword fighting actions. The overall presentation is meanwhile outstanding: the un-skippable cut-scenes between levels have been designed in an appealing comic book style that is a nice contrast from the usual flashy cut-scenes.

If it wasn’t for Nintendo’s brand new control scheme gamble, Red Steel would be an ordinary FPS, although it would be one with up-and-down level design and some great ballsy action. Enough said though, Nintendo’s new era is one where you want to know about the controls, and Ubisoft have done an admirable job with the Japanese gaming giants approachable remote.

It’s true that Red Steel has been criticised for making things too difficult for the player, although it’s here where we think the game has been done a disservice. Yes, Nintendo may be walking down a different path and attempting to capture the mass market, but they still claim that there will be plenty to keep the more avid games player happy, and Red Steel, whilst not too friendly for people who just play games every now and then, is a great third party example for the more hardened of games fans – the people who have the time and perseverance to stop that jumpy target and remember what button does what.

We also feel that being drip-fed new actions throughout the game does Red Steel some favours as it means that you aren’t expected to overload your brain with information from the moment you get a hold of the remote and nunchuck. Grenades don’t even make an appearance until a little later on, but most will be satisfied to learn that you can toss them along the ground or up into the air using the necessary throwing motions with the nunchuck.

It does take a little time in getting used to lining your sights up with the remote, but there’s a true feeling that you are holding a precise device when things start coming together. The frequent sword fighting is meanwhile achieved with swinging the remote around as if it was indeed a harmful melee weapon, whilst different opponents require different strategies to force them to their knees, meaning sidestepping, parrying attacks and even shattering your opponents blade are all actions which lend you their uses. Then comes the time when you are given the decision to end their lives or honourably let them continue to live, and whilst the former might be enticing for many people it won’t earn you the bonus respect at the end of the level.

Something else that is introduced a little later on is the focus time, a flashy feature in which you thrust the remote forward to make use of your faceless and voiceless characters acute ninja-like senses, which basically means shooting at a number of enemies in the blink of an eye. In this state you have a certain amount of time to mark targets and can even disarm them, and similar to granting them mercy in the swordfights, keeping them alive earns you a respect bonus at the end of the level.

Red Steel gives you the opportunity to blow things up and action fans will be delighted as they see wood splinter, exploding objects going up in flames, windows shattering around them and slabs of concrete falling from pillars. In fact if it wasn’t for this attention to detail and the beautiful lighting, Red Steel would be an ultimately drab and rather ugly game to wander around, although admittedly things do improve later on as the narrative takes you to the neon-bathed streets of Tokyo, still things are never quite as consistently good as we would have liked and more glitchy then we would have hoped.

For the multiplayer gamers out there, there’s a split screen mode for up to four players to get involved in. In fact two of the three modes (Killer and Team death match) require the maximum capacity of four players, whilst the death match mode can be played with the minimum two players. The Killer mode makes use of the Remote’s onboard speaker, in which you’ll hear your objectives through, and it then becomes a race as to who will accomplish their said objective first. Genius.

Red Steel may not be the greatest FPS that the world has ever seen, but it’s still a largely successful one. Yes, the controls may be intimidating for many mainstream gamers, although whoever said the Wii was only aimed exclusively at that group? Certainly not Nintendo. To conclude this review, Red Steel is an explosive and satisfying action game, and as Ubisoft is apparently set on turning the name into a franchise, things can only continue to improve in future games.