The first impression of Red Steel’s single player game is not a good one, and its lasting flavor is disappointingly bland. The story mode is at its finest when the music, action and controls are all working in unison. It’s just a shame that this was a very rare occasion.
A lack of polish on a solo campaign is usually evidence of a healthy multiplayer…which is not the case with Red Steel. Save for a few small innovations, Red Steel’s multi is “tack-on” incarnate. I am almost sure that this mode was added in the late stages of development, because of the lack of thought and depth. Ubisoft may not have gotten the controls down to a T, but that’s no excuse for a stripped down deathmatch mode.
There are only three modes: standard versus, team versus, and killer. The lack of old reliable capture the flag is a sin, but killer almost makes up for it. In fact, killer mode makes up for most of the multi shortcomings. In killer, the Wii remote speaker rings like a cell phone. The player with the ringing Wiimote holds the controller to their ear, and the game gives them special instructions. These commands can be anything from killing someone with a specific gun, to staying alive until the time runs out. “Mystery players” and “mystery guns” are special because they grant more points and accomplish the killer goals, and the Wiimote vibrates when you select the right weapon or approach the right character. With four players, this surprisingly creative mode makes the whole multiplayer worth the price, despite the limited weapon selection, absence of sword combat and only four playable maps.
I wish I could say that Red Steel is more than the sum of its parts, but then I’d be lying. The multitude of good concepts is ruined by their halfhearted delivery, the result of a tight time budget I’m sure. Hampered by mediocrity and some obnoxious physics and clipping bugs, the single player mode leaves the player frustrated but oddly wanting more—just better than what they’ve already experienced. The multiplayer, while a nice addition, confuses me because I can’t see why a decade later so few games manage to do better than GoldenEye. Red Steel is the very definition of an average launch title: good intentions, rushed execution.
But to end on a more positive note, it seems that Ubisoft may have gotten all of their experimentation done with Red Steel. A sequel is in the works, with some supposed RPG elements and deeper sword combat. It’s just a shame that I had to pay $50 for an experiment. Give Red Steel a rent, and when you’ve beaten it, imagine the possibilities a year or two down the road.
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Red Steel is the first FPS for the Wii, and so it suffers from the indecision and experimentation that comes from being the first. It blazes a lot of new trails but doesn’t make much headway, and the traditional shooter elements aren’t done very well. The multiplayer really needs more depth, but hopefully the inevitable sequel will do it better, because I can’t imagine playing deathmatch very long with the controls as they are.
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