Review: Ubisoft’s ‘Red Steel’

Red Steel, one of Ubisoft’s three launch titles for the Wii, brings a healthy dose of guns and mindless violence to the new console. In this review, I’ll share my opinions and experiences of playing Red Steel, and whether it’s worth the £35-40 they’re asking for it.

Warning: The author of this review has been pronounced by the Gamers’ Psychiatric Association as a Fully Recovered Halo Addict. While he may no longer have cravings for playing first-person shooters all night, he may still have violent tendencies and n00b-pwning qualities to his playing.

… But in all seriousness: Up until playing Red Steel, I had not touched a first-person shooter in many months and had grown weary of them. Hopefully that will make this review a little less gamer-biased.

The story starts off with you on a date with your fiancé Miyu. Your main job here is her bodyguard, but she has proposed to you. Happy with the news, she goes to tell her father, who is promptly wounded by an attempted assassination. From here, your job is to protect her father Isao until you can safely exit the hotel you are staying in. One you are home free, the game continues as you try to rescue your kidnapped fiancé.

From when you first turn on the game, it’s obvious that the Wii controller plays a big part in the gameplay. From dragging and dropping game saves to load games, to being able to tilt your handgun for full gangster status; there are a lot of little details that really make you aware of how flexible the controller is. A few other things that are done with motion as opposed to button-bashing include opening doors with a push, reloading your gun, pulling levers, parrying sword attacks…

While all of this seems to be a mere novelty at first, after playing the game for a few hours, I started to realise the real benefit of this. I found myself doing much more ‘real’ actions such as pushing open a door while keeping cover, or instinctively pushing over a table to stay shielded.

Weapon controls are even more intuitive, using simple gestures like moving the controller closer to the screen to ‘zoom in’ down the sights of a gun. Firing the gun causes the controller to vibrate in kickback, and the speaker on the controller is used for the sound of gunfire and reloading.
But Red Steel is not just about guns – it’s also about swords. I’ll tell you now: you need fast reactions and good timing for sword fights. The game does a tremendous job of giving adrenaline rushes in both gun and sword fights. The Wii remote itself is used to slash with the sword, whereas the nunchuck in the left hand is used to parry (deflect) attacks.

Moving away from the little features, the game as a whole is tied together well with a running story line. Mid-level cut scenes don’t break from the first-person perspective, while more elaborate comic-style cut scenes make appearances between levels. While the mid-game scenes work well and play into the action, the others tend to be just a little too long. This is especially annoying when, say, you have to watch them more than once for whatever reason.
However, the voice acting balances it out. Just hearing the characters speak English lines in Hollywood-style Californian and Japanese accents is enough by itself to make it an entertaining game. My one concern is that in some situations, there is a distinct lack of sound bites for each character. I can only hear someone go “It’s just you and me now, pal!” and “There he is!” so many times before I go nuts.

The game’s AI (Artificial Intelligence) is of a good standard. Enemies will take cover and hide, retreat when their peers are being attacked, and even sneak up on you if they can. Not once has the AI been ‘buggy’ or messed up, as opposed to other games such as Call Of Duty 3 where enemies will regularly walk into walls and the like.
Unfortunately, the AI has one pitfall – triggers. Red Steel is one of those games where things will only happen if you do something specific, such as walk into an area or flip a switch. The fact that I can stand outside a doorway and be completely safe is a little stupid, considering that taking one more pace into the room will cause the enemies to go into ‘combat mode’ for no apparent reason. I would much prefer if the AI was more proactive to make you think on your feet.

On the subject of AI, the overall difficulty of the game ramps up nicely. If you’ve never played a first-person shooter before, Red Steel is a great first, starting off at a very slow pace. Now that I’m well into my 4th hour of actual gameplay (yes, it keeps track of time), only now can I honestly say it’s getting tough.

For those of you who care, the graphics are pretty good. Metal things are shiny, explosions look very movie-esque… but the one interesting effect is depth of field. If your health is low, a few things will happen: the sound of gunfire will start to die away, replaced with a heartbeat, and your vision will blur. While distant objects will be blurred, you can still see close objects (weapons etc.) sharply. I thought this was a welcome addition to the visuals of the game, and again helps build a sense of panic to make you go down guns blazing.

Getting into more technical aspects, the game stops about twice a ‘chapter’ to load the level. While there is a lot of ground covered between loadings, Call Of Duty 3 still holds the prize for the most expansive levels.

In general, I have found this game a blast to play. Through all it’s imperfections, I’m slowly playing Red Steel more and more because of its immersive gameplay and unique player experience.

All in all, I give this game an 8 out of 10. Darn good, but let down in a few simple areas. While it’s had its share of bad reviews and criticisms for being a ‘rushed game’, I heartily recommend this title — but you may want to rent before you buy.

If you have any further questions about the game that you think I missed, tell me in the comments and I’ll add them to the review! I haven’t completed the game yet, so there’s still more to be discovered.

Red Steel is published by Ubisoft for a retail price of £39.99. Rated 16+ for violence.

Find the best prices for Red Steel at Froogle to make sure you don’t get stiffed.

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I may record some video as well soonish. If I do, I’ll edit and put it in here.

2 Comments


  1. [...] http://www.rsmagazine.co.uk/2007/02/06/review-ubisofts-red-steel/ See more progress on: Play the Nintendo Wii [...]


  2. [...] OK, a little late checking this off.But yes, I celebrated Wintereenmas in my own little way—I played the Wii like a madman, and wrote a review to go with it. Yay!Hopefully I can do something more elaborate next year. See more progress on: Celebrate Winter-een-mas [...]