Review: Disaster – Day of Crisis
Wii in ‘actual game’ shocker.
Disaster: Day of Crisis first caught my eye way back before the Wii was even released. It was briefly shown in a video package of upcoming games from Nintendo. After that it wasn’t seen or heard of for almost two years until it was revealed to have been put on â€œindefinite holdâ€ a.k.a â€œpolishing a turdâ€. Thankfully that was not the case.
Think about every cheesy ’80s and ’90s disaster film you have ever seen you will have a good idea of the plot. Taking the role of the awfully-named Raymond Bryce (he’s got nothing on Casey Ryback) the (somewhat ridiculous) story basically involves trying to rescue your deceased best friend’s sister who is being held hostage by the terrorist organisation, SURGE (because CAPITALS mean business), who have also stolen a nuclear bomb. Of course all this conveniently happens during volcanic eruptions, earthquakes floods, tsunamis and bear attacks (?!). Sounds like an utter mess and I literally didn’t have a clue what was going on most of the time but since the game is fun to play it didn’t matter.
Despite the fact that the Wii is continuously mocked for having too many minigame collections this could be labelled as one, albeit a much more fleshed out one. Given the subject matter it isn’t the type of gameplay you would expect. First of all there are the 3rd-person sections where you explore the environment. In these sections you basically just go from point A to point B collecting power ups and rescuing survivors.
Breaking open containers by shaking the Wii remote reveals health power-ups in the form of amusingly large hamburgers or chunks of meat which Raymond finishes off in merely a few bites â€“ as well as being a genuine laugh-out-loud moment it also gives the game a nice arcade-y feel. There are a few clever ideas worthy of note here such as having to keep your heart rate down and breathing fresh air to clear your lungs of smoke and ash.
When rescuing survivors this is where the mini-games come into play, from performing CPR, cleaning wounds and applying dressings using a combination of button presses and Wii remote gestures. These parts work really well in breaking up the action and prevent things from getting repetitive. Fire fights against the terrorists also play a big part and this is where the game switches to Time Crisis-style light gun gameplay â€“ definitely my favourite part since I’m rather partial to light gun games. You duck in and out of cover while taking out the enemies who have a rather handy red cursor that flashes around their gun when they are ready to shoot â€“ this perhaps makes things a little easy but is a great help in the early sections of the game before you can level up your health.
Do you remember all those old disaster movies Irwin Allen made in the 70’s? Well Nintendo do although the plot for this game is more in the Michael Bay style with mere earthquakes, tidal waves and firestorms deemed too boring so they’ve added stolen nukes, a female love interest, gung-ho soldiers and Morgan Freeman style kindly helper. Similarly the protagonist is a terribly hip gen-y arsehole covered in tattoos and carrying around more than enough emotional baggage to justify his surly and anti-authoritarian personality but he can handle a gun, drive a 4×4 and even reduce slabs of concrete to dust just by stomping on them.
All the separate mini games that are linked together to form the gameplay work well enough be it the Virtua Cop style shootouts, Trauma Centre lite rescues or even Mario Kart driving that gives Wii owners an excuse to dust off all those Wii-Wheels. However the pacing is somewhat erratic with some stages giving you far too many recovery items while the following stage will be extremely stingy before returning to over generous in the following stage.
All the ingredients are there for a great Wii game with the added bonus of a storyline that doesn’t involve anthropomorphic animals or vacuous cheerleaders but for me there’s just something missing from it. If you leave the game there’s nothing pulling you back to it, the story is hackneyed the gameplay unoriginal and encumbered by far too many ‘flail you Wiimote and nunchuck to lift a rock’ moments. If you have a Wii and want to play something not aimed at the pre-teen market you could do a lot worse than DDoC but don’t expect it to give you the same highs as something like Metroid or No More Heroes.
Secondary Score: 7/10
There are also driving sections where, like Excite Truck or Mario Kart, the remote is held sideways and tilted to steer. Those ended up being my least favourite sections of the game due to the awkward, clunky handling of the vehicles and frustrating checkpoint placement. Finally, and what seems to be mandatory with every game these days, are the quick time events but strangely these aren’t as irritating as you would expect since they fit in rather well.
Throughout the game you can level up your character. You gain experience points for rescuing survivors, finding extra points concealed in containers and receiving a certain amount of XP depending on your ranking at the end of the level. XP is spent on increasing your attributes for things such as a longer health and stamina bar or stronger punches (resulting in fewer hits to break containers). The various attributes of your weapons can also be improved with increased damage, magazine capacity, reload time etc. This provides a worthy incentive to replay levels in order to beef up your character.
Despite not holding up well against Nintendo’s other Wii offerings the visuals are still impressive. From the opening FMV to the collapsing buildings, rushing tidal waves and earth-shattering explosions it holds up rather well – but there are some negatives. For instance the NPC character models all look like mannequins, and animate like them too. Dull, drab blurry textures litter buildings and the fire-effects can be laughable at times. However, once the action kicks in and the game moves up a gear you won’t really notice to be honest.
The voiceovers are pretty poor also, but thankfully they are unintentionally amusing. You will lose count of the amount of times â€œdamnâ€, â€œdamn itâ€ and â€œdammitâ€ are used. It’s also quite surprising and ironic to hear such expletive-riddled dialogue in a Nintendo game.
Overall, Disaster: Day of Crisis is an enjoyable game, with a mixture of gameplay elements that offer diversity which keeps the game flowing through some fantastic action set-pieces and the cheesy summer blockbuster plot is an added bonus that makes it all worth your while.