Red Steel 2

System: Wii Release date: 26/03/2010

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Red Steel 2

Step into the shoes of a lone gunslinger and unleash the power of your katana in explosive new ways as you take on all-comers in Red Steel 2, exclusively on Wii.

Making groundbreaking use of the new Wii MotionPlus accessory, Red Steel 2 puts the action in the palm of your hand like never before. You are the lone hero, a mysterious seeker of justice who has a score to settle and a taste for vengeance. Armed with your razor-sharp katana blade and your trusty gun, you step into the desert-bound metropolis of Caldera, a blend of Western cowboy and Eastern Samurai, ready to face the foes that lie in wait…

Wii MotionPlus takes swordplay to a whole new level by matching your real-life movements and simulating them directly on your screen. This means that successfully overcoming the hordes of enemies in your path will depend on absolute precision with the sword. It’s a full body experience as you swing and slice in the heat of the desert, a brutal atmosphere where only the most skilful practitioner will prevail. Back it up with your reliable bullet power – in some situations you’ll only be able to use one weapon or the other, so you’ll need equal proficiency in both areas.

You’ll battle in a whole host of locations in and around the city of Caldera and your skills will increase as you progress through the game. With three difficulty modes – Easy, Medium and Ninja – and customisable options such as camera speed, the true swordsman’s time is about to arrive.

Take on a classic fighting mission like never before – your destiny awaits you in the searing desert of Red Steel 2, only on Wii.

  • Become the hero and avenge the death of your clansmen
  • Use the Wii MotionPlus accessory to make your sword slashes correspond 1:1 to what you see on screen
  • Take out enemies with your gun and upgrade your weaponry as you travel
  • Fight your way through different environments, increasing your skills as you progress

Getting to grips with Wii MotionPlus

Ubisoft has a firm vision of the player experience it expects from Red Steel 2. As Creative Director Jason Vandenberghe says: “Be the Swordsman”. There’s no doubt that the Wii MotionPlus accessory for Red Steel 2 has set expectations high as gamers hope for an immersive experience that exceeds all others. We went along to Ubisoft’s office in Paris to try the game for ourselves…

Set in a hybrid world of East-meets-West fiction, described as “Tokyo in Reno”, the opening scene throws you headlong into the action. It’s clear from the outset that you’re a loner, a Clint Eastwood-style gunslinger with wicked Samurai swordsmanship skills to boot. You don’t know too much about your history, but you do know this: you are the last of your clan, who have been cruelly annihilated. You have a thirst for revenge and the Warlord is top of your list. You’ll have to fight a legion of henchmen in your battle to honour your dead kinsmen and you might even save the town of Caldera along the way…

The first thing that strikes you as you start to play is the visual style of the game. Gone is the more semi-realistic interpretation of the world and in its place stunning animé-style graphics that suit the tone and feel of the game down to the ground. The Japanese-Western mix is evident everywhere you look – hand-painted Japanese signs sit on the roofs of dusty Western saloons. Flickering neon American advertisements hang off walls festooned with Eastern motifs. Graffiti is everywhere and the objects to be found kicking around in the dirt are inspired by rubbish tips on both sides of the hemisphere. The entire effect is of somewhere somehow familiar, yet strangely unsettling.

The attention to detail is absolute – when you turn your fearsome katana 180 degrees for the first time, and the sun catches the sacred silver embossing on the side of the blade, you know you’re in for a quality experience. Despite the secrecy of the mysterious storyline we got plenty of opportunity to try out the core gameplay – and it’s safe to say that swordsmanship just got a whole lot more realistic.

With Wii MotionPlus, the experience instantly becomes more physical. There are two types of sword slashes, light and heavy, represented by a blue and red colour respectively on screen. While you could wave the Wii Remote around from the comfort of your sofa and effect a whole series of light slashes, unleashing a blow of the heavy kind will require a full slash at some speed – there’ll be no ‘cheating’ the game. And, of course, it’s the heavy slash that you’re going to need to take on most of your enemies – the power of a big slash equating to that of roughly three light slashes.

The sword is replicated in 3D glory – as you twist your hand you can see your hero’s hand mimic yours on-screen. Holding down the A Button allows you to block (although this can and will be broken) and the Z Button targets enemies. If you’re being attacked from outside your ring of vision, a Z Button icon will flash up – pressing it will allow you to spin and defend yourself. Navigation is a matter of using the Nunchuk Control Stick to move around and the Wii Pointer to direct the camera. The movement of both is extremely smooth and intuitive to grasp.

Of course, you wouldn’t be any kind of cowboy-hybrid if you didn’t have some firepower. Faced with an armour-clad enemy, your first instinct could be to fire a shot with the B Button, but you soon realise this has no effect. You need to get in close and slash that armour off to expose his weak points. Then, you’re free to take a step back and let off a few rounds to have him eating dust.

Weapons and moves can be upgraded as you progress – one more advanced sword technique we saw allows you to slash a foe straight up into the sky with a heavy upwards swing on your Wii Remote and then leap into the air, finishing him off with a downwards thrust. Visually arresting and very satisfying. And this isn’t a button-masher in any sense. In fact, too many random slashes will actually make your enemies attack harder– no-one likes a flailer.

Even though fighting is the beating heart of Red Steel 2, there’s plenty to explore in your quieter moments. The A Button will allow you to climb and interact with objects, while a mini-map in the corner of the screen keeps you on track. You can also use your tools for non-fatal means.. A well-aimed slash clears the way through a bamboo fence and a safe is broken into by listening carefully to the clicks emitting from the Wii Remote as you crack the combination like an old-school diamond thief. Lots of neat little touches keep things interesting as you go along – how many keep-ups can you do firing on an old metal barrel that’s just lying about?

Overall, it’s clear that this is an action game where you’ll have to use you your brain as well as your brawn to overpower your enemies. Red Steel 2 isn’t going to let you act as a sofa swordsman and it is going to challenge you. The sword action game you’ve been waiting for? It’s looking good….

Interview 1


Jason Vandenberghe is the Creative Director on Red Steel 2, which means that he’s at, as he puts it, “basically the top of the design tree and all the other leaves report to me. It’s the same role, in many ways, as the director on a film”. Jason started off in the industry as a programmer, some 12 years ago, and has worked on various big movie titles, including the James Bond and X-Men franchises for companies including EA and Activision. A long-time fan of sword-based gaming, he was only too keen to join the Red Steel 2 team and embrace a certain new device called WiiMotionPlus…

You were already working on Red Steel 2 for quite some time before you heard about Wii MotionPlus. Can you tell us of any ideas you’d been working with that got discarded after that?

What’s funny about it now, looking back, is that the team has tried just about everything that you can do with the Wii Remote and shooting and swordplay without Wii MotionPlus. (laughs). We did a lot of prototyping, a lot of work and a lot of trial and error looking for what could really be the heart of the game. It meant we knew our topic very, very well by the time Wii MotionPlus showed up, but still, new territory!

In first-person sword gameplay, there’s not many games to point at and say ‘It should be like this’ and that’s been a challenge. As a developer you’re used to being able to looking at other people’s mistakes and successes, but that doesn’t exist for us. But I think what it means is, when you look around and no-one else is doing what you’re doing, that’s a good thing. That’s definitely a good thing! That’s like, YAY! And I told the team, ‘Guys, you may not get that many chances in your career to actually innovate, really innovate, invent a new thing from the ground up and you’re doing it right now!’

How did you approach the integration of the action into the overall storyline and Red Steel 2 experience?

This game really is a combat experience, it’s an action experience and I think that I’d be doing the fans a disservice if I said “Oh! It’s got everything in it! Of course! There’s an RPG system and a whole lot of…” you know..(laughs). I’m focused on the gameplay and I really think the combat is the exciting part, but it’s about 70/30, right, and in that 30% we’ve got exploration to do and there’s rewards to find and things to open and you’re going to make yourself more powerful and meet the people in the town, you’re going to save them or help them save themselves - you’re going to learn a little bit about yourself. So, we’re sort of using a Call of Duty style and we think it works well.

The look of Red Steel 2 is markedly different from the realistic graphical style of the first Red Steel game. What made you decide to go in this direction?

You know, it’s a multi faceted answer, for me. The question about realism I always asks the teams is “Why? What’s it for”, right? And I don’t think there was a compelling answer for Red Steel; I really think the answer was “Well, because...that’s what shooters do.” Well, I don’t think so! It was very simple, I wanted a game look. I wanted a look that when you first looked at it, it told you “Aaah this is going to be a fun place, this is exciting for the imagination, this is a little bit evocative” right? But I also want you to believe that those are bad guys. Did you believe those are bad guys? They seem like they’re bad guys right? (laughs). They’re not cartoon heroes. It’s not a comic book. I know I’m not being pandered to, its not “Oh look at the cutesy futesy sword”…it’s “Look at the very, very sharp katana!” Right? (laughs)

But it also helped us with the violence. When you put blood and gore and dismemberment and decapitation in your game, it has a tendency to take over. It just becomes all about that and that’s all anyone wants to talk about - and that’s not for me. I’m selling a cool sword and gun-fighting experience and, for me anyway, it’s not part of the fantasy of being a hero. So, I thought the look was a great way to answer that, it was a great way to say we’re not going for that level of realism, we’re going to get away with a few things here and there; when we hit a guy with a sword it’s going to go ‘BLAAM!!’

Can you tell us about the flow of the game? It’s not open world, but it doesn’t seem entirely linear either.

No, no it’s hubs. Each major location, each visual theme has its own hub and you’ll spend a good chunk of time in there getting to know it - then there’s linear missions that break off of that, and we like this criss-crossy returning gameplay. There’s a sense of “I can take my challenges in the order that I prefer them in, but I need to do all of these things in order to save the town”. The phrase ‘open world’ gets thrown around but I really try to avoid it for this, it’s just not the right word. It’s a hub-based experience.

Do you have any opinions on the effect Wii MotionPlus might have on video gaming generally?

Yes, yes I do. I think everyone was initially skeptical of what it would really do. When I found out what it actually does I was amazed at how much detail we can get and we have a lot of data, and with the right clever math you can do just about anything you want if what you’re trying to do is figure out where the Wii Remote is in space.

Now, that’s not every game, right? (laughs) It’s just not. I think you could say if one of your core game activities involves holding something in your hand and swinging it, Wii MotionPlus is going to change the entire game for you. People will discover new ways of using it that we haven’t anticipated - we’re just scratching the obvious solutions right now, and that’s the big one; bats and swords are the first line of ‘Well! We’ve wanted to do this for a while! I think that’s what we’re going to do.’ So I think we’ll probably see another wave of innovation when people really figure out how it works and gamers have gotten used to it. I hope we see some really cool innovation; we certainly have plenty of ideas about how to take our ideas further.

So, my answer is, it’s going to be a complete game changer for specific types of games. It’ll enhance Wii as a whole, and then for whole categories of games it just changes everything; it changes all of the rules.

Interview 2


Stephane Bachelet works as Artistic Director for Red Steel 2. This means working very closely with the Creative Director and making his vision of the emotion and rhythm of the game a visual reality. In the early stages, Stephane worked with his concept artists to create the unique style of Red Steel 2, and later with his 3D graphics team to transfer these ideas to the game itself.

How does the process work – do you receive a detailed brief from the Creative Director or is it more of a collaborative process?

It’s more about sharing ideas. When Jason, our Creative Director, came to the project, we already had Red Steel 1 behind us and we thought, “Okay, that was 1 – now what can we do for the second opus?” And there was this idea of the gun and the sword and after a while it was obvious – the gun for Western and the sword for Asia/Japan. And we begin to think maybe it was good to do this mix between the West and Asia, and it all started from that point. I wanted especially to change the graphic look, because, in fact, for Red Steel, it was our first game on Wii. The Creative Director from Red Steel 1 was a big fan of Yakusa movies* and stuff like that. So he tried to, and I tried with him, to make something more realistic, in that kind of universe and it was a launch title; we didn’t have much time to finish and polish the game, so it was what it was – the best we could do! And so for the second opus, we knew we’d have more time and we began to think what sort of style we could choose to use.

*Yakusa also known as gokudō, are members of traditional organised crime syndicates in Japan, and also known as "violence groups". They are a popular subject in films.

I’m a big fan of Marvel comics, of graphic novels and all this AngloSaxon culture. I was very enthusiastic about doing that on Wii. We tried to find a good balance between the graphic novel look and our look because we didn’t want to have something that was too cartoonish. Okay, comics, but not for a child - for adults, for young adults, and that’s why we went in this direction, so as not to reproduce the realistic look of Red Steel 1.

And that’s how you turned to cel-shading

Yes, with cel-shading but also with some sort of matter to have not just full colour texture, but also some kind of matter, some dust…

And in fact in the effects we tried to have some animé render, like the smoke, stuff like that, and for the lighting – I don’t know if you would have seen this, but we have some sharp shadow, the shadow is not blurry, but very sharp, like with a big, big sun in the desert – it’s very close to the look of comics, this kind of lighting.

How did you differentiate the characters in the game visually?

There are three big categories of enemies - all the enemies in the demo were Jaguars. The Enforcers, they are more military or like the militia, they all have armour. In fact, with the Jaguars there is just one guy with armour and it’s the kind of armour that’s not so sophisticated – the Enforcers are bigger. And the other class is Ninja, so they have special abilities – they are faster and stuff like that.

For our inspiration, we’re trying to do it around the same idea, to have this mix between Western and Samurai, or Asian. For instance, the Jaguars: they have leather jackets like cowboys, they have Hakama – a kind of Samurai pants. On top of the Hakama, they have some chaps, that protect cowboys when they’re riding, and they have masks that are very close to Kabuki* masks. Some have swords, some have guns, so we’re trying at every level of the game to have this mix.

*Kabuki is a highly-stylised form of Japanese dance-drama.

Interview 3


Bruno Galet is the Producer on Red Steel 2. He entered the project halfway through and had a lot on his plate from the outset. The recent arrival of the Wii MotionPlus accessory meant a whole new approach to see how the peripheral would reshape the direction of the game. As well as dealing with marketing and managing the budget, one of Bruno’s first tasks was to take on a Creative Director and define his job. Bruno has been in the industry for over 15 years, starting off as a programmer on various games and consoles, including the Super Nintendo console.

There’s a lot of talk about slashing and fighting, but what about exploration and adventure - what role do these aspects play in the game?

These will be key in the levels. In fact we are going to have hubs and each hub will have a safe place – we haven’t decided the exact name yet, where the main character will give you the story in that location and give you some quests. He’ll tell you the story along the way and you’ll find out more about your objectives, about you, because at the beginning you don’t know very much about yourself. There will be a lot of quests and of course you can also upgrade your weapons, because the katana and gun will be upgradeable – you’ll meet some people like a sheriff who will be able to upgrade your gun, you’ll meet a swordsmith that will be able to upgrade your katana.

So, the swordplay looks fun, but the shooting looks pretty effective – why wouldn’t you just go round shooting everything?

Yes, well in the version you’ve seen, it’s not well-balanced yet. The idea is to be able to give the enemies the ability to dodge. So you won’t be able to do it like that and in 10 bullets defeat the enemies. We also want to force the player to use the sword or the gun depending on the situation, so we have a lot of ideas for that. For example, in the mine, you won’t be able to use the gun because things could explode, things like that. And so we have to work a lot more on the gun. We have to offer a challenge, even if you’re using the gun.

And what sort of feedback have you got that’s been useful?

It’s been mainly about the slash action – people at the beginning didn’t really understand how to do a light and a strong slash because the hardware was the first of its kind. At first we had three types of slash: light, medium and strong, but people didn’t really catch that – so we set it to only two. So things like that we adapted, we worked on the movement of the camera – it was much faster than what we have today and some people asked us to decrease the speed, to have different kinds of configuration to give the player the choice of which speed he’d like to play at.

We also discovered that we’d have to put a kind of learning session before starting the game – because making a strong slash will be different depending on the person. So we want to put in some sort of training room to be able to calibrate the light and the strong per player.

So if you’re playing in the Ninja Mode it doesn’t matter if whether you are a little girl or a bodybuilder, you can still play okay.

Yes, because the Ninja mode will be determined more by skills than by strength. You need strength, but relative to the player. So at the beginning, you can do a light slash, do a strong slash, and set the parameters relative to yourself.. The different levels will then be more about skills, handling the different powers you have, doing combos, accuracy, to hit with the blade in a certain way, more precisely.

We saw the use of the Wii Remote to open the safe, which is pretty cool. But will there be many other non-fighting uses of the Wii Remote?

Oh yes, many of them won’t be violence-focused, like opening the safe. We have some designs, it’s just a matter of time. We have some puzzles, like locks, but with very complex mechanics. You have to slide the katana blade in and turn it just so and then slide some more – more peaceful things to do between fights (laughs).

We can see it’s set in the desert in Arizona. Will there be many other environments?

Yes, but the mix will stay Far West and Asia. Known places but with an Asian influence. So we’ll have canyons, we’re going to have a level on the rooftops, which will be nice, a ninja level. And in the mines – Far West locations but with Asian influences.

And bosses! We haven’t heard much about the bosses yet…Obviously there’s the big boss, the Warlord, but are there other bosses as well?

Yes, we have three families. The Jaguars, the Enforcers and the Ninjas. And each family has a boss and also a half-boss – as well as the main boss, who is the Warlord. And so you’ll meet the main bad guy three times in the game.

And so they’re really like different clans…

Yes, they’re like different clans and they don’t really like each other, but somehow the big boss has managed to make them happy enough to all work for him. The Jaguar style you have seen, the Enforcer will be more armoured, more police, more cop-style, with more armour, with military clothing. And then the Ninjas which will be a mix between Asian and cowboys, but they will be stylish cowboys with the ninja look. (laughs)..yeah, it’ll be very cool!


Fighting, Action






Ubisoft Paris

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Compatible controllers

  • Wii Remote & Wii Remote Plus