This is the MotionPlus game we've all been waiting for.
When Red Steel 2 was first announced, I was very skeptical. As most of you probably remember, the original Red Steel was a lackluster Wii launch title that promised a lot and failed to deliver. Over time and exposure, it appeared that the sequel was shaping up well, eschewing many of the trappings of the original game for Wii MotionPlus controls, an overhauled game world, and cel-shaded art style. When all is said and done, Red Steel 2 is not only a great game, but one of the best games currently available on Wii.
Much of the game's success hinges on just how much of a game it is. While early on everyone was concerned about the lack of blood in the title, it fits when everything in the world spills out coins so you can upgrade your hero with no name. It's deliciously a video game, and it embraces this fact. You won't see realism in Red Steel 2, and that's for the better.
The sword and gun controls are spot-on aside from a few issues. The gun uses the pointer, the gold standard for Wii games, while the sword makes use of Wii MotionPlus, easily the game's biggest addition. Every swing of the Wii Remote is represented on screen. It's not true one-to-one swordplay, but it's as close as it needs to be. It's a bit awkward switching from sword to gun, though, because when you're in an open environment, swinging your sword will screw up your pointer's position on the screen, which will then make your character spin around like a fool when your gun is drawn.
Luckily, this is more or less corrected in combat thanks to the game's lock-on mechanic. When a fight begins, you automatically lock on to the nearest enemy. You can easily switch your target with a tap of the Z button. The game does a fantastic job of allowing you to keep your focus on the foe in front of you, displaying a warning whenever an off-screen enemy is about to attack you.
Combat is split into separated brawls. Generally speaking, you'll enter a room and a number of foes will appear. Once you wipe out those foes, your health will be regenerated and you'll get a monetary bonus. It works quite well in the context of the game, especially when the fights get harder and you start praying for that end-of-battle health regeneration.
The combat works fantastically well, and you have tons of tools at your disposal despite only working with a sword and a few guns. As you progress through the game you are introduced to a variety of moves, ranging from deadly sword combos to special powers named after animals. The sword combos are spectacular and fun to execute. For example, an early move called The Guillotine requires you to double-tap A, which thrusts your character into the air, and then swing down to attack. Usually, these combos allow you to use a finisher, which you can execute with a simple sword swing or another combo. The special powers do special things. The Bear launches an earthquake around you, The Eagle launches an enemy into the air, and The Tiger is a powerful parry attack. These special moves, along with the guns you come across and your armor and health, are all upgradeable.
Red Steel 2 is similar to an open world game in the sense that you go to different regions in the linear story and explore one region as much as you want, collecting money for upgrades by smashing boxes, unlocking safes, and completing side quests. If there's any problem with that, it's that the world is sometimes a little too barren, and the environments, while absolutely beautiful, are too similar. There are also challenging boss fights along the way, some of which become recurring mini-bosses, that coincide with the game's shoestring story. The cannon fodder enemies repeat, but each enemy requires you to employ a different method to conquer them, and you'll learn different methods that take advantage of every combo and power to take out each one as you go.
With a subtle progression of moves, an excellent sense of empowerment when you defeat a tough area, and a solid learning curve, Red Steel 2 manages to keep up the pace throughout its 10-hour adventure. Any fan of video games should check this game out, especially if you're into first-person shooters and/or combo-based brawlers. Plain and simple, this is one of the finest games to grace the Wii console.