Red Steel 2 Hands-On Preview

Steel yourself for our hard-hitting hands-on with Ubisoft’s second Wii swordfighting game.

By Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, March 4, 2010

Not all of the structural components hail from the PlayStation era. The health bar echoes that of Batman: Arkham Asylum, refilling itself between battles and thus sparing us the mind-numbing business of gathering medi packs. Flashes of Capcom’s trail-blazing Okami are apparent in the hand-drawn stills which usher in each fresh breed of adversary. Agreeable points of comparison indeed for a game of this hue.

"I like to keep this handy - for close encounters." (Answers on a postcard please.)

I like to keep this handy - for close encounters.

Speaking of hues, the brazen reds, simmering golds and rusty greys of Red Steel 2′s spectrum are the snappiest arguments for the franchise’s newfound self-esteem, burning away the memory of the original’s generic stylings. Cell-shaded texturing does much to offset the Wii’s puny processing power, but for all that this is a beautiful game whatever your preferred specs: we spent a good five minutes at the outset just tilting the lavishly etched blade in our hands to catch the light.

It’ll be interesting to see whether that fearlessness has commercial legs. All indications right now are that it might. Red Steel 2 has been cleverly positioned in regards to its market – sweary and violent enough for the CoD crowd, but not so sweary and violent as to deny Ubisoft purchase on the teen demographic; stylistically singular, but not to the point of unrecognisability.

Whether it outreaches its million-selling forebear or not, though, it’s quite patently a much better game, and one whose marriage of direct and approximated motion control even Nintendo could learn from. “We’re the only first-person swordfighting game in the market,” VandenBerghe remarked during the hands-on. “I’m not going to be able to say that for very much longer!” We sincerely hope he’s right.

Red Steel 2 hits North America on 23rd March, Australia on 25th March and Europe on 26th March.

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