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GoNintendo impressions - Red Steel

I saw a lot of emails asking me about Red Steel. I have been swamped with the site lately, but I took the last half hour to write up some quick impressions. My apologies for any punctuation/spelling errors.

Resd Steel Logo

As I said yesterday, I went to my local GameStop and was able to pick up Red Steel. I have been very eager to check out how well this title controls. We have followed the Red Steel controls story way back from E3 when things were “horrible”, up until recent weeks when reports came in that they had really tightened things up. Going into the game I was really nervous that I just wouldn’t be able to handle the controls. Coming off of playing three levels, I can say that things have worked out extremely well.

First up, I want to say that Red Steel is a lot of fun. I honestly have to attribute this to the Wii’s controller. I can’t see the game being this much fun with a more traditional game controller. It seems to be a running theme with the Wii. Every game I play seems to make me burst out with audible joy. I can’t remember the last time I was so vocal while playing games. That is for another article though.

Okay, a breakdown of the controls. Moving your character forwards, backwards and side to side is done via the analog stick, turning is through the Wiimote. B trigger is for shooting, A button is for lock on, and directional pad left changes weapons. Z button crouches, C button jumps, or dodges (in conjunction with the analog stick) when in a sword fight. I obviously have to get more in depth with the Wiimote contols.

When your aiming cursor is somewhere near the middle of the screen, you are free aiming. When you start to push towards the top/bottom/or sides of the screen, you will begin to look/turn in that direction. The further you press, the faster you turn. It’s true that your top turning speed really isn’t super fast, but that was never an issue with me during gameplay. Just something I noticed while wandering around. Pushing the Wiimote towards your screen will allow you to zoom in with your current weapon. If you use this in conjuction with the A button, you can lock onto and enemy, and zoom in for your shot. The lock on feature is much like Z targeting in Zelda. Your camera will stay fixed on the enemy, and will also make a box around them on screen.

The Nunchuck movements are used for picking up guns, opening doors, and reloading. A quick flick down will pick up a gun on the floor, as well as reload your gun. The same motion will allow you to open a door, but only when there is a green hand icon on the screen.

Now both the Wiimote and Nunchuck change control schemes when you enter swordfighting. You have basic up, down, left, and right sword swings by swinging the Wiimote in that direction. To tell you the truth, I remember seeing diagonal swings, but I don’t know if they were a result of diagonal Wiimote movements or not. Once again, this is not one-to-one sword control. The Nunchuck is used for dodging enemy sword slashes. All you do is hold the C button, and move left or right with the analog stick. The real fun is the parry move, which you need another sword to do. A flick of the nunchuck left or right will block your enemy’s sword attack, leaving them open for your attack. I found it much more natural to swing the Wiimote left to right to parry. A right to left movement with my left hand does not feel natural to me…and I had more trouble parrying like that. The good news is that it doesn’t matter which way you do it to parry, both complete the same movement.

Wiimote aiming felt very nice. It took me all of about 5 minutes to start getting headshots…and trust me, I am not FPS expert. The mixture of lock on, zoom, and free hand shooting gives you plenty of options to see what works best for you. I never used lock on unless an enemy was in the distance. Then I would use lock on, push the Wiimote forward to zoom, and it makes for an easier kill. When you lock on to zoom, you have a better accuracy of going for headshots than you would freehand aiming. Freehand is best for close to mid-range gunfights. The aiming didn’t feel floaty, it has a very ridgid feel. The cursor is also very forgiving…as in you won’t find it twiching all over the place if you don’t have a steady hand. I never changed the default sensitivity options, they worked perfectly fine for me.

Honestly, the only complaint I have with the game is the turning speed. As I said, this was never an issue during a fight…but you never know what will happen later in the game. You never want to be left getting shot in the back simply because you can’t turn fast enough. The turning is not slow…don’t get me wrong. It just isn’t as fast as you would like. If there was a quick 180 turn button combo, then I would have no complaints at all. As far as I know there isn’t, nor have I been taught one in the game.

The controls work a million times better than I expected. We have all heard horror stories of Red Steel controls, but the truth is that they have tightened things up a great deal. The reports from journalists such as Chris Kohler are the ones you should listen to. He had never played the game before two weeks ago, and found no issue with the setup at all. They really have tweaked things, and what they have now works almost perfectly. The Wiimote is going to make for one hell of an awesome FPS experience, and you can already feel that coming through in Red Steel.

Okay, now my gripes with the game. Even though Ubisoft has been working on this title for quite some time, there are still some areas I feel it was rushed. There is some slowdown from time to time…but not due to heavy action on the screen. Sometimes the physics just go insane, and things slow down due to it. This only happened once, but I feel it is worth mentioning. I shot a guy in the head, and he flew all around the room like he was full of helium, which obviously caused slowdown. I am not too sure why this happened, but I feel this could have been fixed with more time to catch bugs. There were also a few instances of pop-in. For instance, I would be talking to a character in the game, and then all of a sudden a piece of them would become HUGE. It lasted for a 10th of a second, but you do notice it. This has happened probably 3 times through the 3 levels I played. These are in no way deal-breakers…but they are noticeable, and could have been fixed with more time.

As far as losing the Wiimote, that never happened to me. I watched Nicky Hill play, and it happened to him once. I believe that was due to his error and not the game. He is admittedly not the best FPS player, and was very nervous at the start. He lost the cursor for a second while in an elevator, but picked it right back up. Even though he says he sucks at every game, and will tell you that he wasn’t doing very well, I will tell you the truth. He made it to almost the end of the second level (due to time constraints) and he was impressing me with how well he was doing. I hadn’t even played the game yet, but was confident that I could do well based on watching him. For a novice FPS gamer like him, he managed to get a hang of the controls midway through the first level.

There is also one other glitch that popped up maybe twice. If you are pushed right up against an object (table, desk, cabinet), and you try to peak out from the corner while aiming the Wiimote, it may jump back and forth about an inch from where you aim. As I said, this happened maybe twice. This is the same issue that happens in numerous first person shooters. The target can get hung up on a corner, wall, or object if you are too close. You just think that it is the Wiimote screwing up, which it isn’t. It is your target jumping from the near to far object. I have had this happen to me in F.E.A.R., and Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter to name a couple current games.

Red Steel is a lot of fun to play…and the Wiimote really gets you into the action. I didn’t feel tired at all while playing…I felt more…into the game. I felt more in-tune with what was going on. I had full intentions of continuing my Zelda game last night. I was going to play Red Steel through the first level, and then pop Zelda in. I stuck with Red Steel for the rest of the night because it was damn fun…and because I don’t ever want Zelda to end! I am very much looking foward to hopping back into Red Steel later tonight. The game isn’t without it’s glitches, but so far they have been minor, and not detracted from the game. If you are a hardcore FPS person, it may take a little time to adjust to the differences from PC to Wiimote control. Having said that, I have never felt like I had so much control in an FPS game since I first started playing them on the PC. Then again, I never felt so involved in an FPS game…ever. Red Steel, so far, is a great way to show off the potential the Wii has when it comes to the FPS genre.

Categories: Reviews, Consoles
Tags: wii

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