A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Red Steel 2 is a fantasy action game that has players using a sword and guns to kill hundreds of enemies during a samurai's quest for retribution. There is no blood or gore (enemies simply step back or fall to the ground when defeated), and the game’s comic book-ish artistic design isn’t particularly realistic, but the combat is nearly constant and involves elaborately choreographed combination moves using the Wii MotionPlus controller. Since you are doing the motions with the controller, there is a more visceral feel to this game than sword games on other consoles. Violence is clearly glorified, especially considering our hero is a well trained killer who obviously takes pleasure in dealing out death to and sparing none of his enemies. The ESRB has rated this game Teen, which encompasses a wide range of ages. We believe the content is less appropriate for younger teens than older, and recommend this game for teens age 15 and up. Parents should also note that since the game requires the Wii’s MotionPlus attachment, if you don’t already own one of these devices you’ll need to purchase the premium edition, which costs $10 more and comes with a MotionPlus peripheral in the box.
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What's it about?
Don’t let its name fool you; other than the fact that players wield a sword and a gun concurrently, RED STEEL 2 has absolutely nothing in common with its predecessor. While the first game takes place in a realistic modern world, its sequel is set in a dystopian desert town that feels like it’s from the future, despite obvious influences from both the Wild West and 19th century Japan. It’s pure fantasy. Our hero is an exiled, pistol- and katana-wielding samurai who returns to his home town only to find it occupied by villains and his brethren slaughtered. He embarks on a quest to find out what happened and exact vengeance on any enemies who stand in his way. This is the first action game to require Nintendo’s MotionPlus attachment, which is supposed to provide true one-to-one control, thus allowing for exacting sword movements. That means that unless you already own one of these peripherals (they came with last summer’s Wii Sports Resort or can be purchased separately), you’ll need to buy the premium version of the game, which comes bundled with a MotionPlus attachment.
Is it any good?
Red Steel 2 is definitely a better game than its predecessor, which dashed many hardcore gamers’ motion sensitivity hopes when it didn't deliver the sort of one-to-one real world mimicry they had imagined. Controlling our hero’s sword in this pseudo-sequel is much more natural and realistic. There are times, especially when blocking, that the sword hilt on screen almost perfectly mirrors our real-world movements. Other activities, such as twisting combination locks on safes, deliver similarly realistic control.
However, players will likely come away at least a little disappointed with the most important mechanic: Swinging a sword. The game registers vertical, diagonal, and horizontal slashes with better accuracy than any other sword fighting game on the Wii, but it’s still a long way from perfect replication. You’ll need to make careful, exaggerated movements, and there are times when swipes simply aren’t recognized. That’s not to say the action isn’t fun; it’s simply not the “deadly precision” advertised on the box.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how children develop and change in their teens, and how the maturity and experience gained through the passage of time may better prepare some kids for certain types of entertainment. Just because a product is rated appropriate for “teens” doesn’t necessarily mean all 13- and 14-year-olds are ready for it.
Families can also discuss the game’s artistry. The developers chose to eschew realism and make the game look almost like a graphic novel. Do you think this style makes the action and characters more or less compelling? How do you think the game would have changed in atmosphere and intensity had the developers worked towards a more photorealistic look?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.