DEVELOPER: UbiSoft Paris
SYSTEM: Nintendo Wii
PRICE: $49.99 ($59.99 with Wii MotionPlus)
ESRB RATING: Teen
REVIEW RATING: 4 stars (out of 5)
Ever since the Wii was released, countless nerds (myself included) have wanted to carve our way through the Galactic Empire with a simulated light saber. The original “Red Steel” promised the next best thing, slicing and dicing enemies with a razor sharp katana, but combat was very awkward. Now “Red Steel 2” is upon us, and gaming on the Wii has suddenly become fun again!
This game’s story line has nothing to do with the original. So little, in fact, that the background has been switched from modern times to the wild west. Only this dusty setting is full of sword wielding tough guys in cowboy hats. As the hero, whose name is actually Hero, players embark on a bloody quest of revenge to annihilate the rival Katakara clan. Yes, this spaghetti western is loaded with extra cheese, but somehow it works.
Through a very enjoyable combination of swordplay and projectile combat, “Red Steel 2” is exciting from beginning to end. Using the Wii MotionPlus helps to track the player’s movements very realistically, resulting in devastating combos that are cold and calculated. It’s very rewarding to time your attacks and blocks correctly and take out an entire gang of enemies. Swinging wildly or simply wagging the Wiimote now has only one result: a quick dirtnap!
It’s also very fun to stun enemies with gunfire and finish them off with a blade to the chest. Several different guns are at the player’s disposal, including Hero’s main six-shooter, a Sidewinder Rifle and a Johnny Gun. Thankfully, the Wiimote pointer is very accurate, and switching between guns and the katana is effortless.
My only major complaint about this game is the repetitive nature of the level design. Every area is very small and looks nearly identical to the last area the player just left. Most have several doorways, but only one is open at a time. This means some areas must be revisited several times just to get to the next area. How boring!
Nevertheless, playing “Red Steel 2” is still the most fun I have ever had on the Wii.
‘How To Train Your Dragon’ Will Disappoint Young and Old
DEVELOPER: Etranges Libellules
SYSTEM: Microsoft Xbox 360 (PS3, Wii)
ESRB RATING: E10-plus
REVIEW RATING: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
Another animated movie has been released in theaters, so the inevitable mediocre, movie-based game is sure to follow. “How to Train Your Dragon” seems like it would capture the attention of may pint-sized fans, but the result is shallower than Sarah Palin at a tea party gathering. This title is little more than a Pokemon-style game that’s masquerading as an action adventure.
From their physical appearance to their facial expressions, many of the film’s quirky characters, including Hiccup, Astrid, Gobbler and Fishlegs, look identical to their movie counterparts. The dragons also look very authentic. Too bad the visuals are ruined by blocky backgrounds that are bereft of detail.
This title starts off where the movie ends, and tasks players with finding and training dragons to fight against other dragons (Gotta train ’em all!). There’s also quite a bit of resource gathering needed to increase the statistics of each dragon. I tell you, if I have to turn over another virtual rock looking for bugs, I’m going to scream!
Now it’s time to enter the Dragon’s Den and learn new moves. Unfortunately, “learning” means doing the same move over and over again, which is enough to bore even the youngest dragon trainer. The worst part is that most of these moves will never be used in a fight, since button mashing works just fine. Yes, that’s right. This shallow fighting game doesn’t even require strategy!
Perhaps the only enjoyable factor is an arcade mode that lets players fight their dragons against a friend on the same screen. Several mini-games are also available that reward the player with experience points to improve their dragon.
But that isn’t enough to make “How to Train Your Dragon” worth anything more than a rental.
REVIEW SCORING SYSTEM
5 stars = Must Have
4 stars = Very Good
3 stars = Above Average
2 stars = Bargain Bin
1 star = Don’t Bother
Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)
E10-plus: (Everyone 10 and older)
T: Teen (13 and older)
M: Mature (17 and older)
To find out more about Jeb Haught and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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