In Red Steel 2, you play a nameless protagonist, the last remaining member of the Kusagari, who fights his way through a Japanese-influenced reimagining of the Old West to stop a deadly enemy from discovering your clan's powerful secret. With a gun in one hand and a katana in the other, you slash and shoot through a variety of missions and side-quests, which earn you cash to trade for equipment upgrades and new special moves.
While RS2 is an improvement on its predecessor, it's still got a way to go before it becomes a must-have title. The control over the sword has improved thanks to the Wii MotionPlus add-on, but you'll still find that at crucial moments you'll take massive damage when your Wiimote-waggling doesn't produce the desired result. The upgrades help to level the combat playing field, however your earnings from completing missions and defeating enemies have to be augmented with destroying barrels and boxes around the levels, which gets tiresome quickly. The firearm element is woefully under-developed, meaning players have to live and die by sword regardless of their preference.
And by far the worst thing, the problem that will consign this game to bargain bins for the rest of its life, are the doors. Whenever you need to open a door to move between areas, you hit the button and wait. And wait. And wait. Just as you think the game is frozen and you'll have to reset, you finally are allowed through. The end result is a constant, frustrating series of delays that slow down the gameplay. It's understandable that levels take time to process, but rather than loitering on the threshold a loading screen with decent artwork would have sufficed.
It's not all bad though. Health is replenished after every successful encounter, shifting the game's focus to exploration and mastery of combat, which makes for a welcome change from the typical endless search for medkits. The special moves are as satisfying as they are spectacular, and so easy to integrate into battles that they become a useful staple. The soundtrack is austere and contains both Western and Japanese influences, the perfect accompaniment to the sweeping cel-shaded vistas of the game environment.
Red Steel 2 is by no means a terrible game. However, its faults make it merely adequate, and with so many other huge titles coming out it is likely to fall by the gaming wayside.