Red Steel 2 is a shallow arcade first person slasher, but maybe that's exactly what we wanted.

User Rating: 7.5 | Red Steel 2 WII
Red Steel 2 is a game that's been anticipated as Ubisoft's second coming to the Wii as a Katana-toting gunslinger. With this iteration they took the phrase gunslinger to its roots, setting the game in a cowboy aesthetic, with a little anime and future thrown in to keep things interesting (and provide a strange logic to doors as to allow for ample load times). The change is for the better, although it appears that to make this jump Ubisoft had to make sacrifices. To get the controls right, the developers dedicated themselves to the "feel" of the game at the cost of level design and variety. I am forced to review the game with the following qualifier: if you approach Red Steel 2 with the mindset that is at heart an arcade, not a real adventure that "hardcore" gamers are looking for, then pick it up because you're in for one fun time.

The controls are satisfying if not slightly finicky and the AI is acceptable. The actual structure of the story itself is terrible, beyond being "funny" bad, however the boss battles are interesting enough to make me want to play to the end of the chapter even though it's so horridly presented. 10 hours of content and only one level left any mark on my memory, the train scene actually feels somewhat original in presentation rather than the rest of the completely by-the-books pacing Ubisoft Paris so closely keeps to.

Graphics are a necessary component to games and can sometimes add to the experience. Red Steel 2 boasts (at times) an impressive atmosphere and comic book style to amplify the sense that it is both Western and Japanese cultures, a Trigun-like affair in terms of setting.

The gameplay -- the controls themselves -- work well. They have been honed and rise above most efforts and for that I thank Ubisoft Paris' passion for their product. I question several choices like the safe opening and tilt-to-blinking-light levers however I understand that they did what they thought felt "right";Opening the safe did admittedly get this "right" feeling, so long as the sometimes-flawed motion controls allowed it to. It's an acceptable alternative to hacking in Bioshock and Mass Effect--a little silly once you think about it and somewhat out of context yet logical in the context of how the game presents itself.

However graphics and gameplay cannot mask the content, more specifically, the level design, if it is substantially lacking. Time and time again, the same areas are traversed while only being able to see one portion of the map at a time. There's no REASON for players to think of the environment as a world, they are forced to condense their interpretation of "The Nameless Warrior's" landscape as a Coded Arms-like random level design that rips players from being able to appreciate its planning. Map aside, Red Steel 2 fails to create different environments beyond their title, one saving grace being the Train. Ironic that the most literal linear sequence in the game felt the most original. In all other parts, the player simply walks forward to the arrow, deterred from exploring because they feel as though they've done it all a million times before.

The level design aside, I still stress that the controls themselves felt right. If you want to jump in the game and show someone what the Wii can offer without showing a minigame compilation or a typical Nintendo first party adventure, this would be one of several choices you can make to show outside gamers what the console is capable of--even if Red Steel 2 falls a bit short--in the right hands.