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26 Reviews

Red Steel

Review: Smooth and stylish shooter

Everyone's going to buy Zelda when they get their Wiis. That's obvious. But the game that sits in the number-two slot on most peoples 'games to buy' list is Red Steel.

It's come a long way since the first playable showing at E3 earlier this year, which left people a tad disappointed. After a boost to its graphical effects and tweaked controls, it now looks, sounds and plays brilliantly.

From the very moment you boot the game up, its emphasised oriental style hits you in the face. The game is full of Japanese visuals and music, working in line with its deep Yakuza-based storyline and part Tokyo setting.

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During a visit to a Japanese restaurant to meet your girl's Yakuza father, your beloved (and quite fit) is kidnapped in a Yakuza assault. Apparently, the gang is after her father's sword, the Katana Giri, and will go to any lengths to get it.

So after pumping some Yakuza full of bullets in the restaurant, you set out to find the kidnappers. This leads you on a brilliant plot that sees you earn the respect of, and become embedded in, a powerful Yakuza clan in Japan as you shoot and slice your way through reams of Japanese gangsters in the fantastic-looking Tokyo.

Making great use of the movement-sensitive Wii Remote, you control player movement with the analogue stick on the Nunchuk, and you use the pointer functionality of the Wii Remote to move the look view, and shoot at enemies anywhere on the screen - enhancing the illusion of having a real gun.

The game, as you will have no-doubt seen, will also have you waving the Remote around like a sword, as you face off with Yakuza members in sword fights. You can parry attacks with the Nunchuk, block by waving the Nunchuk in the direction of an attack, and strike with the Remote.

With these two control systems, Red Steel aims to make you feel like your hands are inside the game, and on the most part, it works great. It's not without issues though.

In the shooting parts, you have to aim your crosshairs so far towards the edge of the screen to make the camera move that your aim - and in turn your on-screen hand - takes on a strangely disembodied feel as you swing it from one extreme of the screen to the other just to make small camera adjustments.

It's not as fluid as Call of Duty 3 on Wii which, on the other hand, has a much smaller neutral field in the centre of your screen, meaning that you get an immediate response from the camera when you move the crosshair even slightly off the centre of the screen. It's a small alteration to a similar control system that makes all the difference.

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That's not to say Red Steel plays poorly - with the movements of the on-screen arm mimicking your own so accurately, even down to you turning your hand on its side to shoot like a gangsta, offers an intensely satisfying feeling. As do the sword fights which, once you master the advanced techniques and learn new moves later in the game, will have you totally engrossed it the fight.

Even with technical limitations of the Wii relative to it's high-def competitors, Red Steel looks great, particularly the levels set in Tokyo. Continuing the oriental theme, the interiors are impressively well decorated with the minor details that bring an environment to life; everyday household objects scattered around rooms, wall decorations, lamps, cupboards, boxes, pot plants and countless other details are everywhere you look.

Some of the textures look a bit 'GameCube', but you can forgive that when the Wii's extra grunt has been put to use for gorgeous beam lighting shining through windows, air vents and even bullet holes, slick reflective floors and stunning warping effects used for heat haze or corrugated glass.

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