Red Steel (Wii)

So I waited in line at Toys R Us, and was right behind the cut-off to get a Wii. So the next day I went to the Nintendo Store and waited in line for about an hour and a half – only to find out my good friend Mike was able to snag me one – because he got in line with his wife Beth, and so he got me a system. Whew!

The game I personally was most excited about was Red Steel. And it seems to really have gotten savaged in reviews. Quite frankly, it’s not that bad. It’s a fun, average shooter, with some interesting little bits built in around the controller. Reloading is a shake of the nunchuk to the left, and you can toss grenades by holding the down button and either rolling them (nunchuk up motion) or tossing them (nunchuk down motion). The little swordfights can be pretty fun, too – block by shaking the nunchuk left or right, dodge by holding a button and moving the joystick, some special moves you learn along the way. As you make your way through the game, you learn cool little features about how the gunplay works with a ‘focus’ system, and there’s probably more stuff like that – I’m maybe a half to 3/4 of the way through.

The controls aren’t perfect, but I think I like them better than the standard dual-analog-stick controls. You wave the Wii remote around on the screen to point at stuff. You can aim by holding the A button and sliding the remote forward and back to zoom in and out. The left thumbstick on the nunchuk strafes left and right and walks forward and backwards. The only thing I feel could be better is the rotate left and rotate right controls – you do it by moving the remote left and right till the aim-point is off screen. Then the screen rotates until you move the remote back to point on screen. It’s not terrible – it’s just too Boolean for my tastes. I would think you would want something where if you get near the edge it rotates a little, and if you go way past the edge it rotates a lot.

So you can do some pretty decent pinpoint shooting with this setup, if all the baddies are on the same screen. If they aren’t, you may scroll past them, or if you’re in the middle of a hairy firefight, you might have a little trouble. Other than the single-speed of rotation issue, the other slight nuisance is that when you are watching a cutscene or waiting for a load, so you put down the Wii remote, and then the screen starts scrolling around randomly and you don’t know which way you’re facing. Bothersome. But avoidable, if you just make sure to rest your hand with the pointer pointing on the screen. Unless the beam from the remote hits the coffee table or your beer or something. Then the pointer goes weird.

So, graphics? Eh. Nothing to write home about. Not so attrocious as to be really unpleasant, but not working up the best of the system. The menuing system is really really stupid – requiring you to drag, with the pointer, items onto boxes. What a silly waste. The story – is okay. You’re some dude who’s dating some Japanese chick and she gets kidnapped and you go run around and shoot people and sword them. No giant twists or turns come up in the story, but it’s fine.

But all in all, I don’t think the reviews I’ve read are fair. Perhaps everyone built it up in their heads as much as I did, and were let down. I was, but I can read between the differences of what I had hoped for, and what’s actually there to say it’s not a bad game.

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