Hudson Soft has been one of the most prolific WiiWare developers to date, with titles ranging from the likes of Tetris Party to, uh, My Aquarium, but its latest entry tackles uncharted ground for the downloadable games service – the first-person shooter. The game in question is Onslaught, and while its generic alien bug-zapping plot and ho-hum presentation fail to make an impression, enjoyably mindless action and online gameplay lend this sci-fi shooter some short-term relevancy.
Onslaught's attempts at narrative (cyborg insects emerge from a downed research ship!) and emotional dialogue between anonymous, look-a-like armored soldiers are best ignored, as the game’s strengths lie solely in the appeal of blasting hordes of goo-splattering creatures. Whether it's packs of sluggish caterpillars or flying bugs that explode when shot, you'll find plenty of fodder with which to decorate the walls of the bland caverns and valleys you'll traverse.
Luckily, the game offers numerous ways to get the job done, with a customizable arsenal including standard firearms (shotgun, machine guns), a rocket launcher, grenades, and even an electric whip for close-up assaults. Some levels even let you command a machine gun-mounted car! Smart controls keep the action flowing pretty smoothly, with fine motion aiming/shooting and analog movement, with the various weapons mapped within reach of the d-pad and Nunchuk buttons. And while it's a hindrance in the midst of a frantic firefight, having to wipe toxic alien innards from your visor by shaking the Nunchuk is a nice touch.
The single-player campaign is split into 13 straightforward missions, all of which fall into expected territory: eliminate all the bugs, defend the base, beat the boss, etc. While the arcade-leaning action (complete with a combo/scoring system and timed missions) packs a challenge, the whole campaign can be knocked out in two hours or less.
Online play via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection helps to some extent, offering four-player co-op play through the story missions, as well as score-based competition. Finding opponents and getting into a match is a relatively painless affair, but the lack of a true deathmatch mode (or anything else) seems like a missed opportunity. Then again, finding any action game with Wi-Fi support on Wii these days remains a task, let alone a $10 WiiWare title.
As long as you're not expecting thrills or surprises, Onslaught's by-the-numbers bug blasting serves as a fair placeholder until something bigger and better (The Conduit, perhaps?) comes along. That's not exactly a ringing endorsement, but for shooter-starved WiiWare fans in this case, something may be better than nothing.
Feb 27, 2009