Disaster: Day of Crisis (Wii) - Review by Chris



Disaster: Day of Crisis is the first title this generation from developers Monolith Soft, creators of other such titles as Xenosaga and Baten Kaitos. Initially announced at E3 2006 as one of the Wii's big new IPs, the title feel off of the radar completely, with many in the industry claiming it had been cancelled, only to resurface in the spring of 2008 and to see release in the fall. For a company that specialises in creating RPGs, creating a title that spans both the survival and action-adventure genres seems like a huge change but with Nintendo having bought them out prior to release, it was clear that the title would get all the help it needed in giving the experience that Monolith Soft envisioned.


In Disaster, you take control of Raymond Bryce, a former US Marine and International Rescue Team member, who is working as a public servant. The title doesn't take long to kick into high gear as after the opening cutscene, you are thrust into the fictional world of Blue Ridge City and its surroundings, starting on Mt. Aguilas. It is here that the foundations for the story are laid, with the eruption of the mountain, which is a dormant volcano, leading Ray and is team members to evacuate and rescue anyone on the mountain-side. Unfortunately all doesn't go to plan, as Ray's friend and colleague Steve falls to his death. However, this early scenario in the game sets out the wide variety of the gameplay mechanics that are used throughout the game. From using the Wii-mote as a pointer to direct water to clean wounds and then bandage them up to swinging both the Wii-mote and nunchuk as if you are running to get away from the oncoming lava, the first scenario doesn't let up in the feeling of trying to survive.

And nor does the title as a whole. While the first scenario eases you in, when you pick up in the next few scenarios, which is set a year after the events on Mt. Aguilas, things start to pick up and the immersion and feeling the title garners and relinquishes onto the player from trying to survive is phenomenal. As a player, you'll build up a relationship with Ray and everytime he is in danger, you'll feel that you are in danger as well. The game mashes together many mechanics that on first appearance may not look like they would work well together and would create a fragmented experience. However, to Monolith Soft's credit, they have managed to blend together incredibly well. One moment you'll be walking through an environment in the third person only to come across the terrorists, who are using the natural disasters which are occurring around you to get what they want, and be thrown into a light-gun game where you have to take out all of the enemies and progress until they have all been taken out.

There are also driving elements thrown into the game and these, again, blend well with the overall gameplay although they do feel slightly disjointed. The whole experience feels very cinematic and many of the elements will make you think of various disaster movies. The mini-games that occur as a result of saving also add some depth to the gameplay and will have you trying to restart hearts or putting out fires depending on the scenario. They all work well and add further realism to the title and add to the sense of survival. There's also a shooting gallery where you can go and hone your shooting skills and unlock many new weapons to use in the game.


For a title that mixes things up by incorporating many different gameplay elements, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the controls would suffer. However, this isn't the case. For the most part, they work well in the situations they are used. The only real difficulties that occurred with the controls came from the driving sections which seem to be very sensitive but are workable. Walking around the environments is done via the analogue stick and it works well but the camera can have a hard time keeping up with you. You can change the camera angle with the d-pad on the Wii-mote but this is slow and you'll simply rely on the C button to change the camera angle when you change direction.

The motions used throughout the title are never unnecessary and all work very well, even when you have to vigorously shake the controllers. There is the odd occasion when the Wii-mote won't register some motions but these are very rare in occurrence. A nice touch that they've worked into the game comes via the speaker in the Wii-mote. Through this you'll hear various radio and emergency notices and while the sound quality isn't stellar, it's a very nice touch and helps in the immersion.


For a game to achieve the grandeur that the title sets out to reach, you need to have clean, crisp graphics to provide the necessary cinematic experience. What we get instead though is a mixed bag. Half of the time, what you'll see is pretty good, with decent enough texture work (although this is something that could be vastly improved upon throughout the game), great character models, great environments and effects. Other times, things will look like a low to mid range Playstation 2 title which is a shame because it does detract from the overall feel of the title. That being said, the title does look good and the cinematic cutscenes that introduce your next natural disaster all well done and look good running on the in-game engine. It's just ashame that the whole title doesn't look as good as this.

For a title that became a Nintendo first party title part way through development, it doesn't show much in the way of the polish we come to expect from Nintendo's own titles. However, for a first go at the genre after working consistently on the RPG genre for years, it's a good try.


The music that occurs in the game changes with whatever is happening on the screen. If, for example, you have to run from an oncoming disaster, the music will increase in tempo and again helps in the immersion factor. At other times, it'll be almost silent with a lack of sound which is both a good and a bad thing, as it is helpful when looking out for survivors. The voice work provided is adequate and in no way reaches the cheesiness of those that appear in their other titles, such as Baten Kaitos. Although it has been mentioned already, another mention does have to go to the speaker as it is put to great use with radio and emergency broadcasts that further immerse the player into the scenario.

Final comments

Monolith Soft have taken a gamble and created a completely unique experience on the Wii and given their lack of experience in the genre, they've done a good job. Even with the limited power of the Wii, they have managed to provide an experience that fully immerses the player, and really brings home the feeling of surviving. The title does have its faults though and has many things that could of perhaps been ironed out during development with a bigger input from Nintendo. With Monolith Soft already have expressed interest in making a sequel, one can only hope that Nintendo will help out more to give a more polished experience.

Pro: Great use of the Wii-mote and its speaker, fantastic cinematic and immersive gameplay
Con: Lack of polished presentation, can be a bit of a work out in some scenarios
Final score: 8


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