The term 'action-blockbuster' is thrown around frequently these days, usually to describe an explosion-heavy-plot-thin film which garners praise and box-office approval. Taking a cue from this definition, Disaster: Day of Crisis leaps onto the Wii, possibly to avoid a particularly nasty explosion, bringing its motion controls, terrorist-heavy plot and laughable dialogue with it. However, does Disaster: Day of Crisis have the quality it takes to be a smash with the critics, or will it be the game that is the real disaster?
You are Raymond 'Ray' Bryce, an ex-marine and rescue worker with a painful past and an attitude to boot. When you're summoned by an FBI Agent and receive news that a local University Professor and his assistant, your dead best friend's sister, have been kidnapped by a rogue military group known as SURGE under the cloak of a string of natural disasters, you know that it's up to you to save their lives, the country and quite possibly the world from certain doom. In essence, the plot is as clichéd as they come, yet entertaining to say the least, with more twists than a bag of pretzels to always keep you on your toes.
The game utilises the Wiimote and Nunchuk combination and can be divided up into four distinct sections: walking, driving, shooting and rescuing.
When walking, the analogue stick controls Ray, can be held to sprint, however this can only be done for a short time before Raymond runs out of breath and needs a breather. Ray can also jump, break objects and, if necessary, extinguish flames by patting himself down with motion control. Ray can also shout to seek out injured civilians and dispose of attacking foes during motion-controlled quick-time events.
In the driving sections, the Wiimote is held horizontally and treated much like a steering wheel with acceleration and braking being controlled at the push of a button. These sections of the game are the standout moments; however there are rare occasions when the car suffers from poor controls and won't handle like you'd expect.
Combat stages are done in an on-rails shooter fashion, with the ability to take cover and switch between a range of weapons, most of which are upgradable through shooting gallery mini-games and by using 'Battle Points' earned in battle by hitting enemies in rapid succession, headshots or disposing of several enemies with fewer shots and accuracy. This is by far my personal favourite section of Disaster and easily the most re-playable aspect of the game.
The fourth and arguably most important aspect, the actual rescuing of civilians is played out through interactive mini-games which range from reaching out your hand at the right moment, to disinfect wounds, to keeping time and performing CPR on injured civilians. Most of these mini-games are seamlessly motion-controlled and completing each one offers Ray much needed SP (Survival Points) which can be used to upgrade his personal attributes. Ranging from increasing stamina, which allows Ray to run longer, to concentration which allows Ray to look more closely at enemies during gun fights to help score those much needed headshots. At the end of each stage, the player is awarded 'titles' which reflect how well they have done during the stage.
The game is packed with replay-enticing bonuses, including unlockable costumes, weapons, artwork, cinematic's and an enhanced difficulty mode entitled 'Real Disaster', which can be unlocked by fulfilling requirements; being awarded certain titles, beating bosses in a certain fashion, replaying the game several times on different difficulty modes.
In addition to this, Disaster includes a replay campaign in which flags are littered across the Stage with bonuses for finding all of them. All of this only describes a few of the many incentives Disaster provides to get you to replay it - rest assured, if you're a perfectionist, then Disaster: Day of Crisis will keep you busy for quite some time.
Graphically speaking, Disaster looks on par with mid-range PS2 games, with blurry textures, washed-out detail and unfinished looking environments. There is actually a point in the game where you can enter different rooms in an apartment block; however none of these rooms are visible, with the player only seeing a message ensuring them that there is nothing of use in the room, a reminder that this game was very close to going unreleased in any territory. There are other similar moments such as this in the game which seem to give the impression that the game is unpolished, or even perhaps unfinished. That said, there are parts in Disaster that are simply amazing to watch; during gameplay, you can simply tap the button at the appropriate time and the player will get a full view of the life-threatening disasters surrounding Ray, adding largely to the 'edge-of-your-seat' interest an action packed blockbuster relies on.
Throughout the course of the game, Ray is tasked with glorified fetch quests and some painfully slow sections where you literally have to drag civilians to safety. These sections can have a negative effect on the player, pulling them out of the action to complete a lingering civilian drag rescue or find a pump-action fire extinguisher, during which time the player's interest is undoubtedly wondering. This is especially prevalent in a reasonably long stretch of time where the player has to escort a lost young girl through an ash-coated forest whilst simultaneously trying not to suffocate. However, despite this stretch of the game being easily the least action-packed, it redeems itself with a brilliant boss battle in the forest that is, personally, a highlight of the game.
In conclusion, although Disaster: Day of Crisis won't be gracing many 'Game of The Year 2008' lists, it does exactly what it promises: it provides an excellent edge-of-the-seat experience on par with even the most extreme action-packed blockbuster and proves itself to be a worthy addition to any Wii owner's collection.