Disclaimer: The following blog contains shitty cell phone pictures, editing, and plushies. You have been warned.
I wasn't really a fan of westerns as a kid. Well, that is until my brother made me watch A Few Dollars More. After that I loved them, the serious ones, and the sillier, campy funny ones. They're all so delicious. Unfortunately, I've never been a big fan of shooters both first and third as far as video game genres go, and nothing I've tried has really changed that, so sadly I haven't really been able to enjoy westerns in my games as all of them are shooters. I really like seeing the character I'm playing, the way they move, attack, run, and I don't really get that with first person games. That and shooting in general just doesn't particularly do it for me. Even in most movies I prefer hand to hand or sword combat, it just feels more dynamic and interesting to me, and it's no different for me in my video games. Well, that is until I saw some game play footage of Red Steel 2.
I hadn't heard of the original before this, as I didn't own a Wii at launch. But when I saw footage of a character that looks like Clint Eastwood meets Vash the Stampede meets Samurai Jack going through mobs using a combination of both swordplay and gun slinging, I was intrigued. Then I actually played it, and I was blown away. I've played for about three hours now, and I absolutely love this FPS.
As you might have already heard, this game uses the Wii Motion+ to improve accuracy, to tighten the controls, and to allow for more nuanced, yet more involved sword play. I have to say I have yet to find any problems with it aside from swings occasionally reading downward slashes as stabs. One thing I was worried about is camera control when wielding the sword, but thankfully the game uses a lock on system when in combat that will automatically lock on. You can also switch to a different target with the "Z" button. The game will also warn you if an enemy is being you and telegraphing an attack with the help of a warning symbol that appears on the top of the screen, allowing you to hit the "Z" button to switch to them immediately and block, dodge or counter their attack.
Both the sword play and the gun slinging are absolutely solid. There is a bit of delay for when you swings register as sword strikes, but it's very short and I haven't noticed any problems with it. The game isn't 1:1, but it's still quite accurate enough to get the job done being able to almost always accurately recreate whatever action you perform. In addition to that you can perform finishing moves on enemies that are stunned, kneeling, or flattened on the ground. There are also special combo moves. Some of them are bought and others are taught to you for free as you progress through the game. They're all pretty simple and intuitive; all of them generally requiring a simple combo of "A" "B" and or "Z" and a corresponding slash with the Wiimote. Some of these also double as finishing moves. My personal favorite is "The Eagle", where you smack an enemy high into the air, and can either pump him with lead Devil may Cry style, or follow him up with a frontal dash and smash him to the ground. The shooting also performs well, with multiple guns you can buy from the saloon hub. It's basically point and shoot, but one of the things I really like about it is how it is balanced with the sword play. Although I haven't purchased any of the other guns at the moment, but with the standard six shooter you start with, it's more of a tool to assist in combat rather than the absolute only thing you want to use, or being completely pointless. You can shoot enemies to death if you so choose, or you can just mostly stick to your sword, but its best to use them together to augment their strength, like blasting an enemy in the legs to bring him to his knees, allowing you to run up and quickly run up and finish him off, or using it to knock an enemy whose using a jump attack on you to blast him to the ground.
The core game play involves going to one of the two hubs, grabbing missions and going out and completing them. As far as I've played, the game is very linear, even if you receive multiple missions, they're all essentially smaller parts of one main mission, as opposed to being able to do and complete larger more involved ones. To describe it, you might get a mission to kill "X" bad guy or go activate "X" switch, and a mission to blow up "X" amount of trucks. But you'll encounter all of the trucks on your way to the bad guy, so it's more like one mission with two objectives. I hope this changes later in the game with more involved separate missions and more options to pick and choose. The game also involved quick time events that will involve you pressing a button, or Wiimote movement, or a combo of the two during certain cut scenes. Failing will start you back at the beginning of the cut scene, so thankfully the punishment for failing isn't that hard.
As far as presentation goes, this is easily one of the most stylish games on the Wii, and one of if not the most graphically impressive. I'm biased about this however, as I love the Wild West, I love samurais, I love schizo tech, and I really love Cel Shading. The game has an absolutely killer sound track as well, with a love of really fast paced western themes. The story seems okay I guess, you play a nameless protagonist, returning to your hometown after being banished years before. You come to find it taken over by a gang called The Jackals, and their leader knocks you out and ties you to the back of his bike. While originally thought to be a random gang raid, it beginning to look as though this is more of a war against your clan. The voice acting is okay I guess. It's nothing to impressive or memorable. Kind of unrelated, but I bought the game bundled with the Wii+ as I didn't own one at the time of purchased, and it came with a really nice looking box. I love boxes. There should be more of them. Today just isn't my day : (
This is an edit. When I was writing this blog after taking a break from the game, I couldn't think of my criticisms for the life of me.I have two complaints about the game. One of which was mentioned in the official destruction preview, which is that in order to climb objects, you use the action button when it appears near special walls, as opposed to being able to go through it manually. It seems really jarring considering how much control you feel you have over the character. The other thing is annoying, but its an out of combat thing. As I mentioned in my blog, you are automatically targeting mobs while in combat, so you can swing your sword without your camera flying around all the place. This is not true when out of combat, so when you want to bash in crates that contain money, your camera swings around like an elastic flail. I've resorted to just using the spin attack to deal with crates, a button to fix the camera still outside of combat would have been nice, the "C" would have worked well, and then the "Check Objectives" command could have been switched to "-".
In addition, this game is absolutely 100% about the combat and showing what the Wiimotion+ can do. If you're expecting something particularly deep, you aren't really going to get it here either. That and while the environments look amazing, and the game also has a Metroid Prime feel to it, the game world itself is very shallow. Most areas are corridors and moderately sized rooms with little variation in it. This game isn't particularly deep, but the combat in this game is unlike anything I've ever really seen. How involved you get with the sword fighting is really unique, and the way the special attacks are built are very intuitive and dare I say, revolutionary. So if you're getting this game, expect combat like you've never seen before in a video game. Its exhausting actually! I actually enjoy that aspect, it just feel so involved(Though you can turn the sensitivity up if you want, the game has well done button mapping options.)
If this game continues to impress me as much as it already has, it just might rip the title of my "Favorite 3rd Party Wii title" right out of No More Heroes 2's hands. I absolutely love this particular exploration into the FPS genre, although this might actually qualify as a First Person Action Adventure title more. If you're looking for a really well done action game for the Wii, Red Steel 2 just might be what you're looking for and is undoubtedly making up for the really crappy first installment.
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