Borderlands + Ninjas = Red Steel 2
Now, I didn’t play the original Red Steel, in fact I didn’t even have a Wii when the first Red Steel came out, but from what I’ve heard it wasn’t so great. I decided to give Red Steel 2 a shot without playing the first and well... it’s probably the best Wii game I’ve played. The first you’ll notice is that the game actually requires Wii MotionPlus which was a bit of a shock to me, turns out buying that copy of Wii Sports Resort wasn’t just for playing table tennis for 10 minutes and never going back to it again, after digging through my drawers I attach the MotionPlus and the nunchuk and get going.
The story didn’t do anything for me, I don’t know if it was because I didn’t play the original or because the characters didn’t really carry any emotional weight to them... yeah it was probably the latter, I sat through all the cutscenes in the game trying to get attached to these characters but I can’t even remember the main characters name, in fact I think I recall one of the characters refer to him as “Hero”, but still if you’re looking for a gripping story you won’t find it here, if you are looking for a story, you also won’t find it here. It’s a shame the story was so weak though, the Japanese-future-cowboy setting, yes you read correctly, provides such a solid foundation for a rich and original story.
Story aside, actually playing the game is a great experience, I found Red Steel 2’s structure to be quite similar to Borderlands, you watch a cutscene, you accept a quest from a fucking bounty board no less, then it’s a matter of going from A to B while subtracting C, C being the bad guys. The use of sword and gunplay in together makes the game incredibly easy to handle, although sometimes sword play does sometime come just moving-your-wrist-for-a-bit, but then again, its better than pressing the A button (I’m looking at you No More Heroes). This is where Wii MotionPlus comes into play, during my down time out of fights I started swinging the sword using different motions and the outcome it is very accurate, however, it all depends the placement of your sensor bar, I noticed on my second day of playing the game the character movement became a bit jerky since I hadn’t kept my arms up in the air. Gunplay is incredibly fun, I also noticed tilting wrists actually tilts the gun on screen, I haven’t played a lot of Wii games so this might be quite common in first person shooters but I found it to be all the more engaging as in game experience, you might think since you are fighting sword wielding foes for the most you could just... shoot them to death, well you can actually it does work. Sometimes it takes an incredibly long time but that’s what the sword is for. Out of fights you can loot objects for ammo and money like another game which is also like another game of the massively multiplayer variety, the game rewards you for exploring other paths not related to the main quest, here you can collect and shoot collectibles which translates into cash for you to spend on upgrades for your sword guns, armour and health, you can also purchase new moves which requires you to do a perform the move about 67 times before the game realises you are perfectly capable of waggling a stick and pressing a button at the same time. It’s also kind enough to you show you a lady who would never actually play Red Steel 2, to show you how to play Red Steel 2.
Red Steel 2 takes up a cel-shaded art style akin to Borderlands and No More Heroes, the way I put it is they took Borderlands' desert landscapes and threw in No More Heroes' character models minus the lightsabers. I don’t really mind the idea of well, borrowing ideas, that’s what made Borderlands great, it sounds harsh but there isn’t a lot of originality in that game, just like there isn’t in Red Steel 2... well unless you count the Japanese-future-cowboy bit, I’ll give them that. The presentation however is off thrown by an unfortunate slew of poor voice acting, it’s not that bad for the most part, in fact it’s quite charming and adds to the B-Movie goofiness that proceeds Red Steel 2, like I said though, if you go into playing it expecting a mind blowing story you’ll be sorely disappointed.
To me though, Red Steel 2 is like the second envisioning of the Wii launch with the added MotionPlus peripheral, the story will take you around 6 – 8 hours with replayable challenges adding to the lasting value, there is no multiplayer but unless they dumbed down the swordplay the likelihood is that it would have been a shallow experience. Personally though I’d give it a rent as you would probably be done with it over the course of a weekend, let’s see how Ubisoft Paris will treat the inevitable sequel to what has to be, for me, one of the Wii's finest games.