Red Steel 2 Review
Alright, it's finally time to take care of this one. To kick things off, I'm just going to reiterate feelings I noted in a previous first impressions post. The game is incredibly slick visually, though the environments prior to the last couple areas, are a bit bland. The difficulty starts out really easy, despite having played the game on Normal-difficulty. There is a curve to the difficulty which I'll talk about later. And the controls: They work, they're somewhat simple and, most importantly, they're fun.
Now for a brief look at the story. Note that I'm making it brief because I didn't pay much attention to the story, the game is a linear experience so the plot wasn't all that important. You play a silent protagonist with a ridiculous outfit (as parodied above) who reclaims a sword that appears to be the desire of every non-ally around. You start off facing a clan known as the Jackals, and you work your way through a few others. There really isn't much else that needs to be said for the story. It's decent but it serves no purpose beyond linking the gameplay together; which is exactly how it should be in a game.
The biggest matter to cover and the biggest improvement over the original Red Steel is the use of motion controls. In this case, the MotionPlus is utilized to give increased precision to the swordplay. It works just fine but prior to the game's release, the development team seemed to make a habit of saying the game would have 1:1 sword fighting at every opportunity. I can't honestly say I ever felt like my exact motions were being translated to the on-screen action. And, even though I'm fairly forgiving of the issue for the sake of the payoff, the MotionPlus needs re-calibration just a little bit too often for my liking.
In spite of the issues though, the swordplay is still very fun. On top of that, swordplay and gun fighting can be switched between as you see fit, as opposed to the original's designated sword fights. This adds a lot enjoyment when gaining the ability to knock an enemy into the air with your sword, and then firing bullets at them before they hit the ground.
The overall control mechanics are simple and very effective. There isn't anything extremely intricate in how to play the game but there really doesn't need to be. Swinging the remote, of course, swings your sword; the strength of the attack depends on the speed of your swing. Tapping the B trigger fires whichever gun you have equipped, and does so instantly even if you don't have your gun drawn beforehand. You can have four separate guns, one set to each direction on the D-Pad, pressing a direction equips that gun.
As time goes on, you learn additional skills to use with both your sword and gun. A mechanic similar to the first game's technique of slowing down time and marking targets to shoot makes an appearance: You hold B and you can mark the targets for up to four bullets, which are fired very fast after letting go of the trigger.
As for the less interesting controls: Obviously the control stick is used for movement, pressing A executes a dash, and tapping A while in a dash will trigger a quick jump which you can swing your sword out of.
There's a lot of room to come up with your own combos and methods of attacks, and a fair variety of enemies to test your methods on.
The enemies themselves are quite easy throughout most of the game. A couple types of recurring enemies present a more prominent threat but are unfortunately rare. The most common enemies that appear can be taken out with a couple strong swings.
Boss fights on the other hand, while there are only a few, are of pretty enjoyable difficulty. Each consecutive boss fight is more difficult than the one before which is ironically rare in games but definitely a plus (just like it was for No More Heroes 2).
Together, the enemies and bosses make for a difficulty curve that is noticeably awkward but not a serious hindering in the overall experience.
I believe soundtrack is the only area left to cover; why I seem to always leave this for last I don't know. The background music in the game is fitting and enjoyable though nothing about it is exactly catchy. Basically, there's nothing special in this area but it does the job it's supposed to do just fine.
In summary: It's a good game. You're likely to notice a few issues, in particular the need to calibrate the MotionPlus after every few fights, but in the end you're also likely to have a very fun experience. There's nothing bad about the game, and there's nothing esoteric about the game (which may be an issue with something like No More Heroes) so there's no reason for me not to recommend it.
No More Heroes 2 remains my favourite Wii game so far this year, but Red Steel 2 is damn close to matching it.