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Leigh Davidson avatar 3:23 PM on 01.12.2012  (server time)
Games of 2012: Red Steel 2

Now I know many of you are seeing that this is about Red Steel 2; a game that most donít give two pointless thoughts about, but hear me out. This game made me realise some deep thoughts. Thoughts that undermine modern game conventions and I know you love that! So let me tell you a tale about Red Steel 2.

Cast your mind back to E3 2009. You know, the time when the rather lovely and professionally enthusiastic Cammie Dunaway died onstage before a bunch of practically useless bros who were fortunate enough to become game journalists sneered at her. Yeah, that time.
This was the game that would prove, to the Ďhardcoreí gamer that motion controls were a thing, a thing to be excited about; a thing that justifies motion controls as something beyondÖ I dunnoÖ dancing, sort of. I think Ubisoft kind of pulled it off with Red Steel 2, and I stress, kind of.

I have this horrible habit when Iím playing a game. I sometimes try to get into the developers mind set, which I hate! I just want to enjoy these things for what they are but when an FPS with a mission to bring a Ďhardcoreí game experience to the Wii I canít help but examine more than I usually would. But in forcing myself to examine this rather throw away title it has made me look at games a little differently.

Iíve rambled too much so Iíll hit you with a point. Red Steel 2 does a wonderful thing. All of that cool stuff, all of the stuff that makes you feel good, all of that action is done by you!
You maybe reading this thinking Ďsay wha!? I always be doiní what I be doiní in gameí but I just want to serve up some food for thought. We are in an era now when spectacle, spectacle that has little to do with the person with the controller in their hand. Itís a type of spectacle that is fantastic to view but doesnít push interactivity as far as it could, which is the true potential of gaming. Iíve lost count of the amount of games Iíve sat through a cut scene wishing the game gave me the opportunity to play that section out myself. As much as I love Vanquish, itís a game that is awfully guilty of it and at the start; Red Steel 2 is guilty of it, too.

The intro has you being tied to the back of a speeding motorcycle, getting dragged and slammed into a manner of nasty and mostly hard things. A few minutes later you find out that you are the last of an incredibly deadly clan. Why they didnít just kill you effectively I donít know but letís just roll with it. Letís just roll with the Asian folks living in a kind of future Wild West, with their American southern accents. Why not, why not!?
But the rest of the time Red Steel 2ís gameplay and nothing else is the piece that impresses. There have been times during games like Call of Duty, Uncharted or Gears of War where gameplay, while satisfying, sometimes have a part where a building falls down and you have to avoid it or a vehicle section that has trucks flipping and cars exploding but the whole scenario feels quite uncanny; like you donít have a lot to do with it or not or feeling your actions donít quite effect the game. Red Steel 2 on the other hand feels really involving, if anything, because every slice of the sword, every combo or every finisher isnít something predetermined. It all feels off the cuff and unpredictable, but on screen it looks as impressive as a set piece would. But because Iím in control it feels more satisfying.

Itís weird that few action games feel like that. Itís like they have this solid core gameplay and then go impress you with scenarios outside of that. Itís almost as if the core gameplay is something to keep you occupied while it conjures up some dazzling set piece for later.
Iíd even go out to say that in a game that is pretty high octane the motion controls add to it. Especially after fighting four tough bastards and the last one is knocked to the floor; you hit A twice to leap in the air and thrust the Wii remote down to finish him. If youíre not too fit, than that fight will have you a little tired and that final thrust feels good. You take a deep breath and go to the next area.

I really like the core gameplay of Red Steel 2. Itís always fun. What isnít great, though, is the way the game progresses: Go here, kill dudes, find 3 communication towers, and blow up 10 trucks. Go to the next area: Go here, blow up 5 barrels, find 4 communications towers, and kill this guy.
That goes on throughout the game and Iím not even sure why Iím doing these lame missions. Itís like Bioshock never happened. I kept listening to the dialogue for a Ďwould you kindlyí type phrase to explain these missions. But no, itís just poor design. Itís only the swordplay that keeps you going as the story and the context for the game is so loose, like itís just a reason for fights to happen. It reminds me of the type of horrible brute you can bump into in a bar who will come up with the most convoluted way to be threatening and get a fight out of youÖ well, people like that and also thugs out of the Yakuza games. Theyíre dicks, too.

With all that said, this is hardily the only game to do this and Iím sure there are far, far better examples but I just want to give credit where it is due to Red Steel 2. Itís a fun action game that doesnít rely on too many tricks and earnestly shows why I play videogames when I sometimes find myself wondering why. It wonít be going anywhere near my favourite games ever list but I doth my cap to you, Red Steel 2. I doth my cap.

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