|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Monolith Soft||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: TBA 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Tony Capri
January 15, 2009 - Back before the Wii system even launched, Nintendo briefly showed off an obscure action-adventure game, Disaster: Day of Crisis, at 2006's E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo). The game has since released both in Japan and Europe, yet many U.S. Wii owners are still eagerly awaiting this unique title developed by Monolith Soft (Baten Kaitos, Xenosaga).
The response overseas, so far, has been mixed, as some critics seem to "get" Disaster's blockbuster approach to marrying arcade and console gaming, while others have found the affair to be trite and lackluster. Regardless of its reception, Day of Crisis appears to be an experience that truly defines the Wii-gameplay concept.
The game follows the story of Raymond Bryce, an ex-search-and-rescue worker (convenient, no doubt), who becomes entangled in a government conspiracy involving a terrorist organization known as SURGE. But as its namesake implies, the game doesn't just one-up Hollywood-style action with big explosions amidst its political mystery and intrigue, the player will also have to survive just about every natural disaster known to man. Volcanoes, tidal waves, earthquakes, and tornadoes - they're all on the menu here.
In practice, Disaster can likely be broken up into three distinct gameplay types: adventure/exploration, scripted driving sequences, and on-rails shooting. When exploring the game's diverse variety of environments, you'll move Ray with the analog stick on the Nunchuk, jump with the A button, and run by holding the B button. One of the main objectives of exploration throughout the game is to rescue civilians, and when doing so, you'll engage in a number of mini-games to revive the injured. Aiding others earns points that can be used to increase Ray's abilities and unlock new weapons. By spending points on Ray's stats, you can steady his aiming, perfect shooting accuracy, increase his stamina, or enhance his ability to withstand various hazards.
The driving sequences are handled by turning the Wii Remote sideways and steering using motion control, much like the motion option in Mario Kart Wii. Considering the functional yet delicate nature of driving with the Wii Wheel in Kart, we're skeptically curious to see how Disaster will handle such gameplay, especially since it's the only option the game offers for these sequences. Is Nintendo of America possibly holding off on releasing the game in the States in hopes of implementing the upcoming Wii MotionPlus accessory into Disaster's driving gameplay? No word on that yet, but it would explain the incredibly long delay in getting the title out to U.S. gamers.
The last and perhaps most prolific gameplay element in Day of Crisis is the on-rails shooting; it's been compared to Time Crisis, and rightfully so. You'll use the Wii Remote to aim at enemies and hold the Z button on the Nunchuk to take cover. The perspective goes fully first-person during these portions of the game, except when reloading weapons (executed with a shake of the Wii Remote). A special option allows players to slow down the action and zoom in on enemies for more precise shots, though the meter for this ability is limited.
Light-gun-shooter sequences segue seamlessly from other portions of the game's adventure stages, yet they add an arcade element that not only breaks up the exploration segments, but will likely prove a welcome approach for more casual gamers looking for a big-action payoff. Puzzle solving and motion-based micro-games will round out the package.
The game's story is based around an asteroid that impacts with Earth, which is the cause of the many catastrophes that occur throughout the adventure. However, SURGE is using the disaster as an opportunity to seize power. When someone Ray care's about is kidnapped by SURGE, Ray takes a special interest in this terrorist organization and their plans for global domination. Both the dialogue and story seem fairly over the top, but likewise, make a perfect fit for the adrenaline-pumped gameplay.
Graphically, Disaster appears to have some interesting and attractive environments, yet we can't help feel a bit underwhelmed by things such as water effects that wouldn't be impressive on the PS2. The framerate seems solid, though, and the overall production is coming along nicely. Character models are detailed, and some of the buildings are almost next-gen in appearance.
The characters are also fully voiced, and from what we've been able to experience thus far, sound effects and music do a great job of backing up the extreme nature of the game's setting. It will be interesting to see what ESRB rating Disaster garners (if and when it comes Stateside), as there are plenty of gratuitous expletives.
Though it's been quite a long time in the making, we're not expecting a masterpiece from Disaster: Day of Crisis. That said, the game seems to exhibit all the makings of a great action-packed rollercoaster ride - perhaps a bit shallow, but chocked full of exciting gameplay. Of course, we're still uncertain when we might actually see the game materialize in the United States, as Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils Aime has expressed a few concerns about the game's overall quality. However, we're hoping to see the game out sometime early this year.
CCC Freelance Writer