||Let's make one thing clear right off the bat: Red Steel 2 shares nothing with its forgettable predecessor other than the weapons and the name. The game is a top to bottom improvement over the original to the point where they should have just dropped the 2 from this one's name and rebooted the series entirely...Given how much westerns draw from samurai films, the combination of sword and six shooter is a logical pairing even if it has never been portrayed in video games. The game plays the western motif to the hilt from the sleepy town of Caldera, nestled deep in the Nevada desert to the nameless hero who enters town on a horse. Well, it's not so much a horse as a motorcycle and you don't enter town so much as get dragged into it behind said motorcycle but you get the point...The sword fighting works well at first but it isn't until you start unlocking the various special moves where the system really opens up into one of the most thrilling and visceral combat experiences on any console. With a tap of the A button followed up by different moves you'll be dashing around the battlefield and stabbing enemies through the back, stunning them with a bullet to the chest and then following up with a smash to the jaw with your sword hilt and a final impalement through the sternum. When armored foes arrive, the Guillotine, a vicious, leaping, overhand strike makes quick work of their armor before you can finish them off. Best of all is the Storm, a 360 degree move used to attack enemies around you, but when used just as the enemies are attacking, indicated by an on-screen prompt, your hero will pull off the classic backwards stab move. Not only does this finisher disregard any armor and acts as a one shot kill, it looks flippin' amazing. In fact all of the finishing moves look great and it's only the lack of blood that allows the game to get away with a T rating. These are some seriously brutal finishers and give you the impression of being one serious badass...What's most amazing about the game though is how well Ubisoft Paris was able to take the system it given and play to its strengths. The game has a fantastic design aesthetic with its neo-Tokyo meets Deadwood set pieces and the cel shaded graphics allows for rampant creativity without having to try and compete for graphical awards. The sword play provides a steel swinging experience that makes you feel like the baddest of the bad without requiring more than a cool head and a hefty swing and in that sense it accomplishes precisely what it set out to do.