Red Steel - WII - Review
Red Steel came as quite a surprise when it was unveiled earlier this year. Ubisoft, a developer known for multi-platform releases, announced the game as a Nintendo Wii exclusive. This was the first title with official screens, and the first with information on what could be an FPS that would change (or at least influence) the course of the genre.
The potential innovation came from its promised use of the Wii remote. Like a mouse, the game registers every move you make. Point the remote up and your character will be staring at the ceiling; angle it at the floor and he'll be staring at his fight. It is in many ways what I expected – more of a computer gaming experience on a console.
Since the remote has such a great impact on the camera, you must keep your arm fairly steady the whole time. During most of the game this was not a problem. The camera reacted well to my actions. Once I had gotten better at aiming with the remote, the challenge of shooting enemies was greatly lessened. There are a couple of tricks you'll have to learn, like how to zoom when targeting an enemy.
Mind you, when I say "targeting," I am in no way implying that Red Steel allows you to pick off enemies automatically. All this target does is place a small square around the enemy's location to hopefully make his presence a little clearer. If he's hiding behind a wall, a table, or some other object, targeting is beneficial. While targeting (hold the A button), you can push the Wii remote forward – literally stretch your hand further toward the screen – to get a closer view.
Making this adjustment, from normal to zoomed perspective, would be second nature if it were executed the old way (via buttons). Having to extend your arm while aiming, and at the same time keep your character moving with the nunchuck attachment, is not instantly easy. Couple that with how your aim and camera movement are dictated entirely by the angle of the Wii remote and you've got a game that gives everyone a new control setup to master.
Red Steel's levels are not uncommon for the genre, having numerous indoor locations, dozens rooms, and several corridors. Though you might not feel like you're exploring a fresh world, try shooting up the place and see what happens. The vast majority of the objects are interactive, meaning that you can destroy them.
While strolling through a hallway I found an oblivious guard watching over one of the rooms. He was visible through a tiny glass window in the door to that room. He had his head turned and did not know I was there. This gave me the perfect opportunity to test a stealth attack in a game where the action is high and frantic at almost all times.
Aim, fire, success. The bullet flew right through the glass, piercing the skull of the opponent that almost was. He was an enemy, yes, but we didn't get the chance to battle. Therefore he wasn't an opponent, but rather a nuisance fortunate enough to have been taken out before things could get really ugly.
Red Steel's sword-to-sword combat is clever and fun but imperfect. First off, let me just clarify that the slashing movements are not based exactly on the player's movements. They are based on a pre-programmed set of moves created by the developers. I'm no swordsman and would suck at fighting in a real battle. Nonetheless, I was hoping to get a more realistic feel from this game, even if it meant my moves came off as clunky and perhaps too inefficient to deal with a strong warrior.
Putting that aside, the sword combat is fun. Side, under, and forward slashes are a few of the attack options, all of which are executed in a manner similar to the way the sword strikes in the game. You can slash the remote repeatedly for combos, and side-step to evade attacks.
The most effective motion element is your block and deflect move. Players can hold up the case of their sword with the nunchuck (don't rest it on your lap – literally hold it in the air). Wait for an enemy to strike, and if you time it just right, you can push the nunchuck forward to deflect the attack. Succeed and you might have a second or two to retaliate while the enemy is stunned.
Doors and other generic tasks are accomplished with a light, downward swipe of the nunchuck. All attempts were successful, but I did not at first realize that you don't have to swing harshly. A very short and light swing is all that's needed. That will trigger the desired action. And because it's quick and requires little effort, doing so will not hinder your progress. You'll be able to open doors and flip over tables -- which can be used to crouch behind for cover in the middle of a gunfight – with ease.
Given that Red Steel was a Nintendo Wii exclusive from the start, it was presumed that it would have some of the best graphics of any launch title. Those presumptions were correct. The bright, glowing and colorful lighting leave an interesting streak and shine that isn't typically found in a console game. Explosions and background details are more pronounced than every other Wii game except Zelda.
Regardless of how many enemies were on screen, or how many times I had to re-position the camera, Red Steel's frame rate stays consistent. There are some loading issues – a flaw much too common with the new generation of consoles – but it's nothing too devastating.
Review Scoring Details for Red Steel
The difference between Red Steel and all other first-person shooters is that it uses the Wii remote in place of a mouse. No more having to fumble with the right analog stick, and no more pressing buttons to get your crosshairs to change position. All you have to do now is point the remote at the screen and fire.
That can be quite a challenge – keeping the remote steady at all times. This idea has yet to be perfected, but that doesn’t make it any less exciting. Knowing this, however, the developers made Red Steel a little easier and a bit more repetitive than I think they would have if this were a standard FPS. Those who love to shoot will have no shortage of targets in Red Steel. But if you want something a Wii FPS with little more substance, you’re going to have to wait.
Impressive backdrops, characters, and special effects make Red Steel one of Wii’s best-looking games.
Red Steel’s score is powerful and intense, shifting from one exciting theme to the next. The music is somewhat dynamic, popping in at key places, while dissipating at times when it is less necessary. I hate to use the term “production values,” but it’s clear that they were high – even the voice-overs are good!
Biggest challenge: avoiding camera frustration. Learn to use subtle movements (with the Wii remote) and you’ll have a good time. Otherwise…
A generic FPS with several unique motion-sensing features.
Too much commotion and camera confusion for the multiplayer battles to have long-lasting appeal.
Red Steel is fun, but it’s not for everyone. Those who do not wish to hold up their controllers and have the patience to learn a new control style will not be enthused. Give the game the time it deserves, however, and you’ll find that, in spite of its repetition, this is one very cool and exciting shooter.