Earlier this year, Hudson released Onslaught, WiiWare's first FPS which proved that Japanese developers can actually make good FPS games! One of the only complaints with Onslaught was that it only featured online co-op and versus modes; there was no deathmatch. Water Warfare seems to have been made just to fill that gap, but does it do a good job?
If you've played Onslaught, you'll be pleased to find out Water Warfare controls in exactly the same way. You look around with the Wii Remote's pointer, you move with the control stick, and fire with the B button. Water Warfare has a few different gameplay features though, so there are also some extra controls: the A button allows you to zoom in with certain weapons to get a more accurate shot, the C button lets you use items, and possibly most importantly, the Z button makes you jump.
When you first start up Water Warfare you'll be asked to create a profile. When you do this you'll not only have to enter a name, but you also get to create your very own character! There's about nine different hairstyles, faces and clothes to pick from, and you can also change your height and weight too if you so desire.
It's mostly a multiplayer game, but there are two single-player modes as well, so let's get to those first. "Mission Mode" is really exactly what the title says: you'll have to complete various missions set across the game's four arenas and a special training arena, such as hitting all stationary targets, defeating all opponents, running through checkpoints and capturing bases. Each mission (except those set in the training stage) also has various times to beat which can earn you gold, silver or bronze medals. Collecting these will eventually unlock new items which you can use to customize your character further, so if you want to show off, go do missions!
"Match Mode" lets you play against bots on any of the four online maps, which can be good for practice. Nothing too special though! Once you think you're ready for the real deal you can select the multiplayer option on the main menu. Here, you can either play with a single friend (no four-player, for some reason!) offline or you can go online and battle up to seven random players from around the world.
Online, the game pretty much plays like any other FPS - grab weapons and shoot each other to get the most points. There's multiple gameplay modes: you can just play a simple deathmatch and try to get the most "kills", try to get the most points, play a Capture the Flag-style mode where you steal the enemy's treasure chests, and there's even a mode where you must try to take control of enemy bases by standing in special "capture zones" for 10 seconds without getting knocked out by those defending it. All of the online modes can be played both free-for-all and in teams, and have various customizable settings, which is nice.
The game's kiddy image is really just because of Hudson's family friendly policy: they have a rule not to make any games where you actually kill people. Don't think that instantly means the game is for inexperienced players only though, because it's got all the features you'll find in other FPS games. Among the weapons, there's regular pistols, machine guns and shotguns, and of course rocket and grenade launchers. Item-wise, there's a water bomb which functions pretty much like a grenade, towels which act like first aid kits, water bottles to refill your guns, raincoats which temporarily shield you from some damage, and more!
The whole point of the game is to stay dry, so you should avoid contact with any water at all costs - for example, fountains and rivers which would be completely harmless to swim around in other FPS games will actually slowly damage you in this one! Truth be told, though, you don't actually get knocked out that fast if you're only taking damage from one source, so it's recommended you play in eight-player games as much as possible to keep the game as frantic as can be.
Graphics-wise, the game gets the job done nicely. For some reason, your hand in first-person view looks a bit off, but all of the environments and character/weapon models look quite good and colourful. The music is fairly simple but gets the point across, with a handful of fast-paced tunes to highlight the craziness of it all.
Hudson have pulled it off again and created yet another quality FPS - one that was developed in Japan no less! If you played Onslaught and sorely missed more online multiplayer modes, then this should be an instant download. The single player modes aren't very interesting and might grow stale quickly, but the online is great, frantic fun. Don't let the game's cuteness fool you, there's just as much depth here as in certain "hardcore" shooters!