Red Steel 2 Hands On: Now With Ninjas!

Ubisoft had a newly playable copy of Red Steel 2 at Gamescom, its cowboy-samurai western now full of ninja and 360-degree Wii MotionPlus-powered sword swingin'. And I nearly had my delicate wrist snapped off playing the thing.

After getting a brief overview of what's new in Red Steel 2—including ninja, some fancy new moves like that spinning katana chop and the ability to launch enemies into the air—from creative director Jason Vanderberghe, we got a chance to strap on the Wii Remote and Nunchuk and try it for ourselves.

My stab at Red Steel 2's expanded arsenal of moves—including that finishing move stab that's so fun to pull off—wasn't nearly as easy as Vanderberghe and crew made it out to be. Nor were those bullet-deflecting ninjas, some armed with machine pistols, easy to dispatch.

In fact, I never did successfully pull off that knock-back and lift move, allegedly performed by holding the Wii Remote's A and B buttons to charge, then requiring a Wii MotionPlus-powered lift of the remote. I mostly stuck to using the shotgun and exploding barrels nearby with very limited success. The spinning sword slash, that I did manage to execute once or twice at the risk of elbowing some European press folks in the sternum.

My displays of failure prompted Vanderberghe's colleague to take up the controls to show me how to properly violently jab at the screen—unfortunately with my wrist still in the Remote's strap. These are the dangers of being thrown mid-level into the sequel to a Wii game you've never played.

Despite the clumsiness, Red Steel 2 looks a lot sharper than its forebear, running at a smooth 60 frames per second and showing off a newer, slicker art style. Judgment about how Red Steel 2 plays for now will be reserved, until such time as we can come to grips with fighting cowboy ninjas with a Wii Remote.