Red Steel 2 is an interesting proposition. It's the sequel to a game that was poorly received upon release, but the developers genuinely seem to have learned a lot from the experience. The sequel has a completely different story to the original, and, in fact, the only thing that the two games have in common is the gun/sword-based combat. We managed to play the game for the first time today at the LA Convention Center, as well as find out more about it with lead designer Roman Campos Oriola.
Red Steel 2 is a Western/Japanese hybrid, with a storyline that mixes ninja swordplay and a Wild West setting. As the main character, you decide to return home after many years, but you're captured by a rival gang and are dragged into town by a rope attached to a motorcycle. You manage to shoot your captor and make your escape, and the tutorial introduces you to the basic movement and combat controls.
You aim and move just like you did in the original Red Steel, but Wii MotionPlus support means that the controls are much more refined than before. You push your aiming reticle to the side of the screen to turn, for example, but now the farther you push, the faster you turn. The support for Nintendo's latest peripheral also really improves the sword combat, which is much more accurate than before. You really need to make huge swipes with the remote for strong attacks on enemies with armour, while holding the A button lets you perform highly accurate parrying moves.
While the controls are an obvious improvement to Red Steel 2, we also have to compliment the game on its looks. It could be described as cel-shaded, although the game manages to retain a gritty edge, but it certainly has a distinct visual style all its own. Even better, it's running in 60fps at this stage, although that could change according to the technical limitations placed on the final build. Sadly, the same can't be said for the violence--while you can hold A to perform finishing moves, such as a sword-based execution, there's not a drop of blood to be seen in any of the game.
One of the coolest things we did in the game was break into a safe. You hold the Wii remote up to your ear and then tilt the remote to turn the wheel on the safe. When you hear a click through the Wii Remote, you know that you've hit the correct combination, and you have to do this three times to open the safe. It's definitely a cool little minigame, and even over the noise of the show, we still managed to get into the safe.
Developer Roman Campos Oriola left us with one final tease from the demo, which he showed us after we'd played through the first level. He showed how, about one hour into the game, you can upgrade your sword with special powers, such as the ability to fling enemies into the air. Once they're in midair, you can shoot them or jump up in the air and smack them down to earth. Finally, he told us that Red Steel 2 is going to be a strict single-player experience, so no multiplayer features will ship in the game.
We really enjoyed our time playing Red Steel 2, and even though we played it on the show floor, we didn't have any problem getting into the new swinging mechanics of the swordplay. We hope to bring you more on the game post-E3.