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Red Steel 2 - hands-on

“Hitting things is fun. I really believe that.” Jason Vandenberghe, Red Steel 2’s creative director, isn’t one for PR guff. He speaks with relish of swords, ninjas and magical katana skills. He also does a great impersonation of a sawed-off shotgun, but more on that later. Here and now, we’re talking swordplay, specifically the amount of heft Red Steel 2’s armour-shearing slices requires from your poor arm muscles.

“We used to hit bushes with sticks when I was a kid – that’s the sensation we really wanted to capture. It’s not a fencing simulation, it’s a katana!” He’s not kidding. After Wii Sports Resort’s flighty swordplay, gripping your katana feels like wielding a caber. By all means, gently tilt the hilt to twist and examine the sword on screen, but the hits have to count. Flimsy flicks glance off the goons and their Jason Voorhees-ish masks. If the air isn’t leaving your lungs in small grunts, you’re doing it wrong.

So it’s different from Resort, but not in a bad way. The extra effort makes chops feel deliberate, and encourages you to keep your samurai cool and consciously decide when to strike. You’re not one for role play? Where’s your sense of fun? But don’t worry - Ubisoft has your back. “It’s tuneable,” Vandenberghe explains. “You can dial it back a bit. Just because you haven’t been swinging a sword all your life doesn’t mean you can’t play the game.” 

Even if you have been swinging a sword all your life, there’s still learning to be done. If the E3 build was an A minus-level in swordplay, the version shown at Gamescom in August was the full A-level. Vandenberghe sees our mysterious hero as a man of two halves: “The samurai, the archetypical katana hero, and what is the archetypical gun hero, Clint Eastwood, the man with no name.” Finally, we see what would happen if the two had a kid.

The phrase "quick on the draw" has never been more apt than here. Hit the B trigger mid-katana blow and down goes the sword, out comes the gun. There’s no clumsy inventory system to leave you a sitting duck as you rummage in your manbag for your trusty six shooter; just a clean, efficient click. Use the eagle lift – an upward swipe that knocks goons skywards – and you can be emptying your fourth or fifth bullet into an enemy before he begins his descent. It’s kind of how you wish clay pigeon shooting would work.

Then you have the make the call over which gun you unleash on the saps. Revolver fire will snipe cowardly henchman gunning at you from outside the fray, but for crowd control, you’ll want a sawed-off, double-barreled shotgun. It’s got real mechanical punch – crisply snapping open to have two fat cartridges fed into its belly – and is used more as a close-range melee attack than your traditional boomstick. Time for Vandenberghe’s impersonation: “DUNK DUNK PICHICK BAM BAM!” Er, perhaps you had to be there.

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12 comments

  • senob - October 8, 2009 6:08 a.m.

    It's look show cool I wont it. Like it can or can't be better than red steel 1
  • Jokebox231 - September 24, 2009 10:53 a.m.

    My only question is when its coming out. Nintendo Power said this winter, but Gamesradar said November??? I really hope Gamesradar is right.
  • Furyspittles - September 22, 2009 2:33 p.m.

    ....this is a Wii game? The graphics look this good and this is a Wii game? Well I'll be damned.
  • erreip199 - September 21, 2009 11:30 p.m.

    i remember those power rangers... i kinda regret i spared their lifes... ill be merciless with the ninjas
  • Fancy Rat - September 21, 2009 9:33 p.m.

    Reminds me of Sukiyaki Western Django, which is not nearly as dumb as it sounds.
  • CoD4Kamikazi - September 21, 2009 7:44 p.m.

    looks waaaaay better than the original, that game was supposed to be one of the Wii's heavy-hitters, this looks more like the game I was promised
  • n00b - September 23, 2009 2:37 p.m.

    hey at least red steel tried to be a game i'll always respect them for that. and this one looks like the game they wanted to make can't wait
  • GamerTagsSuck - September 22, 2009 10:43 p.m.

    First one really wasn't too bad... And thank the lord I didn't sell my Wii yet.
  • hardcore_gamer1990 - September 22, 2009 4:29 p.m.

    New potential favourite game... :) ReCAPTCHA: I'm jell Seriously?
  • LOUDcarBOMB - September 21, 2009 11:53 p.m.

    I hope this one is going to be good. @CoD4Kamikazi = great profile pic
  • jakab11 - September 21, 2009 11:23 p.m.

    looks promising
  • Yeager1122 - September 21, 2009 8:35 p.m.

    Yeah i agree looks much better then the piece of crap first one that was SO HYPED up and sucked horribly.

Showing 1-12 of 12 comments

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