Genre: First Person Shooter
|FIMP: Red Steel [Wii]|
Does not compute. I think there's like, a divide-by-zero error or a null pointer or something.
Huh? Red Steel doesn't blow chunks?
To be serious for a second, sometimes I play reputably poor games for the sake of doing all two of my readers at Trigames.NET the service of either confirming or denying popular opinion. This happened with Rayman DS, wherein I purchased the game with the sole intent of reviewing it quickly so that people could make their decision on it. You'll remember that the game released during the Nintendo DS drought of early 2005, and reviews for the games weren't coming out all that quickly. Well, that game ended up making me cry and I wrote up an appropriate review.
With so many mixed reviews on Red Steel, I decided to give it a shot to see if I could help shed some more light on the disappointing title's stigma. I found it on eBay for about $30, which is perfect since you can basically trade recent titles in for at least $25 worth of store credit (nevermind the fact that I just don't have the big chunks of time to pay a monthly rental subscription).
Red Steel has gaping flaws, and is irritating at times - many times. But when you're taking down gangs of poorly-voiced enemy thugs, the feeling is nice and cathartic. I mentioned how tasty it was to shoot down opposing forces with the Wiimote in Call of Duty 3, and the core feeling is the same here. I like the design of the environment, with its fusion of Japanese and American. The graphics have quite a bit to complain about, but at times there's some really decent texturework that gives the game a cleaner look than Call of Duty and some more-than-impressive lighting effects. About 10 minutes into the game, I couldn't believe that I was actually enjoying it a bit.
For a game whose turning speed is that of a rotten mushroom, that's impressive.
But let's talk about that turning speed for a second. It's abhorrent. No, there aren't too many instances where you'll find yourself turning to face enemies, but they're there. If you choose to go gung-ho with a shotgun, step up to enemies and put a fat one in their grill, you will obviously come to the same close-quarters turning speed frustration that comes with all 3D shooters (1st and 3rd person) that control with analog sticks with no lock-on (yep, even Gears - sorry.. except, of course, Gears generally kicks the pants off of this title).
The other part of it is that if there aren't many instances where you're turning to fire upon foes, is it really that well-designed at all? No one's flanked me yet. No one's really advanced on me tactically except head-on in a Doom or Serious Sam style of banzai rush. Everyone seems to start out firing upon you from the front, and it starts to feel like a shooting gallery. It might be enough for some people, but not for me. I've even come across some instances where I'd approach a dude from the side and catch him unawares with the awesomeness of my uzi, but he'd still be standing there staring ahead of himself... waiting for me to come into his field of vision. Riiight.
Let's not talk about the swordfighting too much, or I'll hemorrhage. Basically, the parrying is way cool. The sword swinging? Way not. It feels like Twilight Princess sword fighting. Let me clarify this before all the Zelda fanboys start tearing my scalp off and stabbing my tongue with a rusty screwdriver ("Blaaam!"). The sword waggling in Zelda works just fine, because in the context of the game the only real goal is to swing the sword and hit bad things. In this game, you're given the illusion that you're holding a long sword that you can control like you can in real life. So Ubisoft took away one-to-one motions, and your sword swipes are all pre-animated attacks. Ok, that's a little terrible, but I can sort of learn to kind of maybe possibly potentially live with it. However, there's a setting that you can toggle to have your sword strikes respond to long, sweeping movements or shorter, choppier movements. I chose the latter, since I don't want to swing my arms like a madman.
Now, I'm fighting "fat dude #3 with baseball bat" (who looks hispanic, has Jehri curls, and inexplicably sounds like Matthew Broderick) and I try to give him a quick one-two combo - waggle left, waggle right. Right? Wrong. It didn't respond to my command. So I tried waggling it like I was paying Zelda, and presto - combos came out. Ok, so sure, I got the fighting to work - but I don't like it! I don't like just jostling the Wiimote to get a combo off.
Wow - that was quite a long rant on the sword fighting. Let's touch on the presentation real quick before my boss comes back. (Wait, I'm working from home today. Nevermind.) Much of the design is actually really well-done. Well, I personally like it. The texture work can get icky at times, but it can also get really sharp - well, considering it's at 480p and there's far less than 512 megabytes fo video RAM to work with. These textures - the ones that received hard work - are as good as they can be without any bump- or normal-mapping, in some cases better than Twilight Princess (which is still the best looking game for the system). The character designs are an absolute bore, but from a technical standpoint they're built with a decent amount of polygons and look very well-rounded.
The lighting effects are all very, very well done. They're on the same level, if not a bit more impressive, than Twilight Princess. If you look out the window in one of the opening stages, the glare of the sun setting in the distance is almost blinding (well that's going a bit far, but you get the picture). Vending machines and lamps emit a haze of light that starts to dissipate as you draw closer.
There's quite a bit more to say about this game that's not so positive, but I'll leave you with this thought:
Gamerankings' aggregate score for this game is a nice, low 64.5%... yet there's a reason it didn't get any lower.
Hmm, that's not such a ringing endorsement. How's this? I'll happily finish this game and review it, but I'm selling it back the instant I do.
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