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Review: Red Steel 2

Jordan Deam | 1 Apr 2010 13:00
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While your pistol is always just a trigger pull away, you'll probably find yourself reaching for your katana far more often, partly for the novelty of it but mostly because it's so much more effective against virtually all enemy types. In addition to your standard repertoire of slashes, parries and stabs, Red Steel 2 also boasts a number of purchasable combo moves and combat abilities. Some, like the Matador, let you quickly flank an enemy before they have time to react, while others, like the Cyclone, perform a 360-degree slash that is perfect for when you need to give yourself some breathing room. Not only are the sword gestures intuitive - thrust the Wii remote forward to stab, swing to slash, etc. - but the dodge button, in concert with the game's nunchuk thumbstick, let you dash around the playing field with precision and ease.

But while you have nearly perfect control of your character in combat, the world can seem pretty constrained when your gun is holstered and your sword is sheathed. Thanks to a quest system that is almost too streamlined and a mini-map that never leaves your objective in doubt, you begin to notice what a narrow path the game puts you on even through supposedly open-world environments. The game world is broken into discrete chunks separated by largely invisible but occasionally annoying loading screens, and it reuses the same sections multiple times, meaning you'll often get a curious case of Déjà vu without being able to remember why an area looks so familiar.

Ultimately, though Red Steel 2's level design may reek of compromise, its swordplay easily compensates for those shortcomings. It's one of those rare games that gives you the tools to easily dispatch hordes of enemies with precise timing and careful strategy, but scales your opponents accordingly. Every battle has the potential to be a nail-biter, and I can't even count the number of times when I faced down a group of rival ninjas and limped away with just a fraction of my health bar remaining. And when the combat is this good, a couple extra seconds of load times just doesn't seem that important.

Bottom Line: Over three years after the Wii hit store shelves, Red Steel 2 finally delivers the motion-controlled swordplay we expected from the original Red Steel, and it more than makes up for any niggling flaws in the level design.

Recommendation: If you're in the minority of Wii owners who also enjoy first-person shooters, you likely won't do better than this for a long, long time.

Score:

Jordan Deam is just a couple hours of Red Steel 2 away from developing a mean case of katana elbow.

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