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Red Steel
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Red Steel
Written by James Hobbs

Red Steel has been confirmed as a launch title for Wii, meaning that we will have at least two first-person shooters to choose from on launch day the other, of course, being Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. However, Retro Studios have already proven their worth with the previous two Metroid Prime games Red Steel is largely an unknown factor.

Set in America and Japan, the game concerns you with two main modes of play that are both perfect for the nature of the Wii control system gun fighting and sword fighting. However, despite tweaking to the control system, some reports suggest that the controls are letting the game down somewhat. The high sensitivity of the Wii remote means that the controls have to be perfect otherwise it will be impossible to play intuitively, leaving developers Ubisoft Paris with some work to do between now and launch day if reports are to be believed.

The lighting and graphics have improved immeasurably since the early builds of the game. The lighting is of a very high quality indeed, with rays streaming through blinds and windows, particularly in the Japanese game locations. The overall quality of the textures and models seems to be very good, with a distinct emphasis on style without sacrificing the overall quality. Considerable detail also appears to have gone into the game - fishtanks can be shot out, leaving fish flapping on the floor; fire extinguishers can be shot, causing small explosions; and, most of the surfaces seem to react appropriately to whatever damage you deal them.

The sections of the game in America where guns ( appropriately ) are utilised seem to be the most polished so far. There are a variety of weapons, all of which you would expect in a first person shooter, and the levels seem to be varied and pleasingly interactive. Ubisoft have made full use of the Wii controls for utilising weapons - the nunchuck is used to move, the remote to aim, and you shake the nunchuck to pick up weapons dropped by foes. This will probably be rather confusing at first, but once acclimatised it shouldn't prove to be too difficult a task. You can even use your small sword in a gunfight, for a close range attack. Anyone watching your bizarre movements without being able to see the screen will probably wet themselves, however.

Whilst the Japanese levels do utilise guns, they seem to be notably toned down - whilst Japan has it's fair share of crime, I think it's fair to say that it doesn't have quite as many redneck, gun toting, incestuous psychotics, and as such armaments worthy of a small battalion may not be required in the land of the rising sun. The sword fighting sections have been improved from the somewhat robotic earlier incarnations of the game, and should provide physically strenuous fun.

The game does require you to practice with both types of weapons, in order to become more adept with them. One of the locations we have seen is 'Harry's Club' - this is your first link with the Japanese underworld. The club is a strange mixture of American Gangster and Yakuza stylings, and features a shooting range where you can practice with a variety weapons, under the eye of 'Kajima,' the instructor. There is a seperate location, 'Otori's Dojo,' where you can practice your sword-fighting skills. As most people who first pick up the game will not have played Wii before, the game allows the player and the in-game character to progress simultaeneously - as you become more adept with wielding your Wii-mote, you can learn more advanced moves and skills. This does sound rather interesting, and you can return to either location at any point to beef up your skills.

We'll be getting our hands on Red Steel very soon, so stay tuned for our opinions.

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