In an emergency situation, who are you gonna call? The Ghostbusters? Ninja Cat? Jimmy Saville? Whoever it is, just make sure that it isn’t Raymond Bryce, star of Disaster: Day of Crisis. It isn’t that he’s no good in a crisis (on the contrary, as a former International Team Rescue member, you’d be hard pushed to find someone better), it’s just that, well, he’s the unluckiest person this side of the Beano’s Calamity James. From the opening scene (where he comically sets himself on fire) to the very end of the 23rd and final stage, trouble is never further than an opened door away from Mr. Reverse-Midas.
Earthquakes, firestorms, tsunamis, angry bears, an entire army of rogue special operatives… they all nip at Ray’s heels like an angry ant colony. You’ll continue to invite his wretched luck into your home, however, because his continued misfortune makes for one hell of an entertaining ride. Yet really, it shouldn’t be entertaining at all, because Disaster: Day Of Crisis is entirely composed of a never-ending carousel of largely duff minigames. So scattershot is the game’s output, in fact, that it’s actually kind of hard to pin down exactly what it is you spend most of your time doing, although the lightgun shooting sections are probably the most ubiquitous of the gameplay styles. As in Time Crisis, these sections allow you to shield yourself from bullets by tapping the Z button to duck under cover, but rather less Time Crisis-y is the game’s decision not to restrict these sections to a time limit.
This can give these sections a rather attritional feel, but it recovers an element of suspense through its clever risk versus reward system (you can zoom in on the action to deliver double damage on an enemy, but any shots you incur during this time will also count for double). But quite a lot of the time, Disaster: Day of Crisis decides that it’s actually a platform game. These sections usually take place during or immediately after a natural (or not so natural) disaster, with Ray searching for straggling survivors in peril. Once you’ve located and successfully reached a survivor (and sometimes reaching them is half the battle, such is the devastation that has been wreaked upon the environment), your next step is to break open your big bag of motion gestures.
Some survivors need to be resuscitated (use the remote as a plunger), while others need to be washed and bandaged. Others are trapped under six tons of rock, or are dangling off cliff edges. Tapping buttons rapidly and waving the remote around wildly are the two recurring themes that’ll help you haul these hapless losers to safety. Doing so will dish out ‘Survival Points’, which can be traded in at the Chapter interlude screen for speed, strength and firearm upgrades. These two elements compose the majority of Disaster: Identity Crisis, but there are also sections where you have to dash away from danger by furiously shaking the controllers (think the 100m sprint in Mario & Sonic) and some twitchy but curiously frantic driving sections, amongst others.
None of the gameplay styles are anything special, so why, then, is the game so oddly compulsive? Well, much of it is down to the fact that none of the sub-sections outstay their welcome, particularly as checkpoints are distributed regularly and logically. Then, of course, there’s the fact that it’s such an interesting game world to be in – although the ‘quake tremors and tsunami-formed rivers are controlled by set pieces, it all feels far more organic than it actually is.
But the crowning glory is the fantastically naïve script, which attempts to ape gritty American cinema with its excessive use of swears. In attempting this, it succeeds only in being the most quintessentially Japanese thing that has ever been put to disc. The whole package ends up giving Disaster: Day of Crisis a wondrous summer action movie vibe, and while it’s not the best game ever made by some distance, it has no such delusions of grandeur. The end result is just a game of simple, silly fun for the Vin Diesel generation.
Nov 7, 2008