Disaster: Day of Crisis (Wii) Review

By Adam Riley 30.10.2008

Review for Disaster: Day of Crisis on Wii

Disaster: Day of Crisis, along with Project H.A.M.M.E.R, was one of the first titles to be shown off for Nintendo’s new console, Wii, yet mysteriously disappeared off the radar and was thought to have turned into nothing but vapourware. With Monolith Soft’s background being primarily rooted in the RPG genre, many were not too surprised as it seemed the company may well have bitten off more than it could chew. However, the team behind Xenosaga, Baten Kaitos and Soma Bringer has at long last completed its début Wii project. The question remains, though, whether or not the quality is there. Time to see if its title of ‘Disaster’ is actually quite fitting…

Right from the start Disaster throws cinematic sequences around left, right and centre, helping to keep the player totally immersed in the experience for the entire rollercoaster ride. The protagonist is Raymond Bryce, former US Marine and member of the International Rescue Team. Following an unforeseen event, leading to the loss of a close friend and changing his life forever, he quits and opts for a desk job instead. However, being drawn back by the Government via a guilt-trip, he is left facing off against not only the threat of a terrorist organisation called SURGE, but the full force of nature’s wrath. So if Ray is not struggling to survive against the likes of floods and earthquakes, he must pit his wits in a tête-à-tête with highly skilled marksmen out for his blood, all because he made a promise to protect his dead friend’s younger sister who has been kidnapped by SURGE. Can one man really take on Mother Nature, an imposing terrorist threat AND save the girl all on his lonesome? Brace yourselves for one hell of a day…

Day of Crisis proves to be completely mesmerising, grabbing your attention from the get go as the game segues from the highly intense movie-like story sections to the extremely nerve-racking situations where players jump into the control of Ray and must ensure he escapes any impending disasters around him in order to keep going long enough to rescue more survivors in need of help. Visually Disaster is somewhat of a mixed bag, going from breathtakingly stunning in the video clips and majority of the in-game world as well, to comparatively weak facets such as flat, unrealistic textures for burning flames in the background and poor vehicle models that look awfully out of place and threaten to ruin the visual appeal at times. This is perhaps a consequence of the game being in development turmoil for such a long time, starting with the aim of being a launch game, but keeping an open mind means thankfully the minor niggles definitely cannot detract from the game’s overall aesthetic appeal and the sense of atmosphere portrayed. The visuals, though, are not the only thing to help create the perfect feeling, as the rousing soundtrack keeps gamers on their toes most of the time, before fading out to represent temporary lulls in the action, before crashing back in as hordes of SURGE troops come storming at Ray or gigantic waves come rushing through the inner city, roaring through your home sound system, bringing the full experience right into your room.

Screenshot for Disaster: Day of Crisis on Wii

Something to remember about Disaster is that whilst everything is doom and gloom during the main adventure, the developer has certainly decided to keep the subject matter a little tongue-in-cheek where possible, making it so appealing to a wider audience (although the violence, traumatic deaths and mild swearing have left it with a PEGI Rating of 16, limiting its appeal to the younger audience). The voice acting is certainly impressive, but the script lines are over-exuberantly delivered on many an occasion, providing some truly laugh-out-loud moments. Thankfully, though, you get the impression it is indeed purposeful, as opposed to in some games where they leave you laughing for totally the wrong reason! Items dotted around the various locations Ray has to trek through also provide some comic relief, with our hero able to bash his way through bins and boxes strewn around, only to find First Aid Kits and boxes of plasters that restore health, as well as nourishing treats like crackers, big pieces of ham, melons and even what looks like large lizards on sticks that all boost his stamina. Watching him smash open a bin, spot a reptile and busily start munching away on it never fails to raise a smile!

When it comes to the serious moments, though, the direction is faultless – the player IS in a blockbuster movie, working their way through twenty-three breath-taking stages, watching in bewilderment as the world seemingly crumbles in front of your very eyes, with volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and even devastating tsunamis rocking the planet to its very core. To maintain a sense of realism throughout, stamina plays a big part, both in terms of the main character, as well as those that need rescuing. Have Ray run around like crazy for too long and his heartbeat starts pumping out of control, leading to him passing out, so the player must stop to let him get his breath back. Meanwhile, his stamina gauge is continuously dropping (replenished by said ‘lizard’ items and the like) as his energy levels begin to deplete, until the point where the exertion levels become too extreme and his health starts to fritter away (cue plasters and First Aid packs!). On top of this, there are instances where running through smoke-filled sections will clog Ray’s lungs, so dashing through as quickly as possible and then taking deep breaths to clear them again afterwards is required.

Screenshot for Disaster: Day of Crisis on Wii

As you may have gathered from the above, the level of interactivity is pretty high. In fact, it is extraordinarily high, with Disaster time and time again proving to be the Wii game people had been hoping from since launch day, showing off all sorts of motion controls. Dodging attacks from soldiers by flicking the Wii Remote in a timely fashion, kicking them by flinging the Remote and Nunchuk upwards, and speeding away from incoming floods by moving the controllers rapidly in a motion that mimics the movement of your arms when running in real life are just a few examples of what is on offer. There are also driving sections that use the Remote on its side, sans Nunchuk, as well as on-rails shooting areas where shaking the Nunchuk up and down reloads your weapon, ‘Z’ lets Ray hide behind whatever cover is currently available and use of the Wii Remote’s infrared pointer controls the on-screen cursor before zooming in with ‘C’ for greater accuracy (although Ray’s concentration levels drop quickly, indicated by another gauge and the screen going blurry when run down, so the trick is to aim, zoom and act fast before hiding again), then blasting away with the ‘B’ button trigger and changing weapon with the D-pad when necessary. And these are only some of the actions required during Ray’s adventuring sections!

You see there are plenty of other motion- and reaction-based ingredients to snack upon. Whilst wandering around, a simple tap of the Nunchuk’s ‘Z’ button leads to Ray calling out to anyone in distress, turning to face the direction of the nearest Blue Ridge citizen awaiting rescue (the game puts this down to a kind of ‘sixth sense’ that he has…what a guy, huh?!). Upon finding them, holding down ‘B’ can spray water to clean wounds, spinning the analogue stick around will bandage cuts, and handing over First Aid kits and plasters can occasionally be enough to save them. At other times, people will be in a far more critical condition and the result is the need to hold the Wii Remote on its side and push it downwards at the right moment, as if actually pushing on a person’s chest to re-start their heart. On other occasions all that may be required is to grab someone’s hand to drag them to safety (swing the controller in the right direction to throw out Ray’s hand at the same time they throw out theirs), or merely lift a heavy object to free a trapped leg (rapidly tap the ‘A’ button until a gauge is filled, then flick both controllers upwards). The mind simply boggles at the amount of variety the developer has poured into the end product! Thankfully, having such a strong prior experience and the support of Nintendo along the way, Monolith Soft has just about tied everything together to ensure the game does not merely collapse under the weight of such variation. ‘Jack of All Trades’ type games have a tendency to not quite gel on the whole, but Disaster is a lesson for all lesser developers that take the same approach in the future.

Screenshot for Disaster: Day of Crisis on Wii

What is particularly interesting is that whilst primarily a Third-Person adventure with some First-Person shooting and driving included, you can still see a smidgen of Monolith Soft’s RPG influences creeping in, with the ‘Go here, gather information, head back, find item, travel elsewhere and use item’ mechanic in place, as well as ‘levelling-up’ of the main character. The latter works as thus; saving people before their stamina runs too low dishes out SP that can be used to develop different aspects of trusty Mr. Bryce (increase stamina, hold more items, improve combat strength, and so on), whilst for each enemy despatched, head-shot dealt and combination run of kills achieved, BP are accrued to which they can be put towards bolstering Ray’s arsenal (upgrade weapons, access shooting ranges to obtain new combat tools, etc).

Making sure to best use the SP and BP to develop Ray in the right areas will be a God-send later in the game, when things get much trickier. At the start of the game it is possible to choose between two difficulty levels, yet even on the easier of the two the game can flip from a walk in the park to gruesomely tough, however the bountiful supply of checkpoints and the sheer enjoyable nature of the various short sequences found within each of the twenty-three stages mean that progress remains continuously enthralling and does not grow tedious from having to re-tread your steps after each death. And when the game’s credits do finally roll, several extras are unlocked, with the beating of certain targets additionally opening up other treats to keep gamers coming back for just that little bit more. Monolith Soft should be commended for pulling off one of the biggest surprises on Wii so far – Disaster certainly does not live up to its name. Now go out and buy it…

Screenshot for Disaster: Day of Crisis on Wii

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Day of Crisis is truly a fantastic pastiche of all the disaster movies currently out there, mixing cliché after cliché together, yet managing to just about tie all of its differing gameplay elements together to make one hell of a satisfying package that Wii owners should really not be without. The wait has most definitely been worth it.

Developer

Monolith

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (35 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date None   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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