jondavis's Red Steel (Wii) review

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Good Idea Gone Bad

Red Steel was the quintessential tech demo for the Wii. We thought it impossible for Ubisoft to disappoint with such an interesting idea that made full use of the Wii's intuitive controllers. Many, many months later, most people have moved on, but this title still leaves a sour taste in Wii launch victims' collective mouth.

In Red Steel, you are Scott, boyfriend of the daughter of a Yakuza ringleader. The story begins with Scott and his girlfriend on the eve of the announcement of their engagement. After an enemy gang busts in, delaying the announcement, and a brief tutorial explains the basics of controlling Scott, the player has to dispatch some baddies to save his virtual fiancé. 

This tutorial is simple enough, but it betrays the player's trust by leading
An image for the sake of image!
him/her on to looking forward to playing the game. Turning Scott is an unpleasant chore, while clumsily holding in the A button and thrusting the Wiimote towards the screen to zoom is a mechanic that could have been better mapped. The gun play is just as disappointing, with the lack of precision and all.

Shortly after killing some basic, gat-wielding enemies, and swapping out the handgun for some more evolved weaponry, the Way-of-the-Samurai is explained to the player by his/her e-father-in-law. Scott's skill with a blade improves over the course of the game and new moves become available, but they are wholly unnecessary. The sword fighting is similar to a turn-based strategy game in that you block, attack, the enemy blocks, counter-attacks, rinse, repeat. Later, these katana duels become frustratingly difficult as enemies continually block attacks and stab the player: a move Scott is, for some reason, unable to mimic. After defeating an enemy and bringing him to his knees, the player makes one of two choices: killing douche; an unsatisfying choice considering the lack of Kill Bill-style fountains of blood, or sparing his life via a wave of the Nunchuk. By letting the downed opponent be, respect is earned.

As the story progresses, this respect can be spent on new skills. The player can, at the press of a button, stop time and shoot the weapons out of enemies' hands: netting Scott more expendable respect. This mixes the action up a bit, but after realizing the relative ease in which a room can be cleared, this mechanic simplifies the game to the brink of being tedious.

Even after the onset of initial post-hour-mark boredom, I managed to play for four to five hours, though I could play no longer. Red Steel is a good example of how first person shooters shouldn't be approached on the Wii. Sure, it's fun for a bit, and it's an exciting example of the potential of the Wii, but this game's minor technical problems drown those facts and suppress the will for merrymaking.
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