Except, of course, it's all three, muddled together. So you'll be third-personing through a street, gallantly rescuing people, then suddenly it switches to Time Crisis, in the same locations, before flipping back once everyone's dead. And then jumping in a car. And then it suddenly becomes an adventure game, as you plod around a house finding hidden objects, using them in the right place, solving simple puzzles. Where did that come from?!
The writing is just hilarious. It's beyond the worst action movie dialogue you've ever heard, and it's incessant. Frequently there's genuinely fewer than three seconds play between cut-scenes. Thing is, how could you ever bring yourself to have strong feelings against a game that includes the line, "EAT MY BALLISTICS!"
And all the while, throughout this cavalcade of horror, Ray is constantly being pursued by SURGE. Finally reach a railway bridge that might lead to an escape from the volcanic ash, and save the life of the little girl Ray is trying to rescue at that point, and a helicopter full of murderous enemies appears! Try to out-drive the oncoming tidal wave, and you can be sure baddies will thwart his progress. It's such an extraordinary display of hyperbole that it becomes stupidly fun.
Let me share another classic line. Someone speaking to the president says, "Worst case scenario: I believe we're witnessing the utter destruction of our country." Awesome. Then two favourite lines from tutorial instructions. "Being on fire causes you to lose life," and, "Clogged lungs have a negative effect on your performance." It's like they know me. And for some reason the game has an obsession with using the words "pyroclastic flow". Over and over.
So, more importantly, does it all work despite the unmitigated nonsense? To an extent. The Wii is screaming out for more Time Crisis-a-likes. When Disaster's multiple personalities allow this one through, it's lots of fun. This is helped by the upgradable weapons, with up to four available at one time. Limited ammo for everything but the pistol calls for judicious economising, and the ever-present cover lets you reload without getting flustered.
The third-person sections are significantly more wonky, agonisingly interrupted by cut-scenes, and feel very dated. Climbing and jumping are extremely awkward, and the auto-camera is useless. Plus, the multitude of mini-games aren't very rewarding.
Finally, the driving is pretty troubled. Mechanically it works fine, well even. There's a real sense of steering on difficult terrain. The problem is, the sections are reliant on precognition to be successfully completed. Sudden cliffs or giant obstacles appear from nowhere, invisible until you've fallen or crashed into them, with the checkpoints miles apart and inevitably the other side of tiresome unskippable cut-scenes.
It's amiable enough. Quickly quite repetitive, but certainly not short on variation. And most importantly, it's unwittingly hilarious beyond belief. Oh, and here's a weird thing for a Nintendo published game: it's got swearing in it. Exclusively the word "s***", but boy-oh-boy does it say it a lot. Remember when someone came into school assembly, and tried to sound a bit cool by swearing. "And I think, when someone tells you that you should try drugs, well I think that's just… s***. Yeah." Disaster's proliferation of s-words just makes you wince at the awkwardness of it.
But most hilarious of all is Ray. Good old Ray. At no point does the annihilation of the planet at the hands of disgruntled army folk by nuclear weapons, nor the undoing at the seams of America's tectonic foundations, distract him from the importance of giving a girl her compass back. He really does shout that he doesn't care about the nuclear bomb, he "just wants the girl!"
If it had just been a bit more focused, perhaps sticking with the pleasing interchange of third-person exploring and first-person on-rails shooting, it would have succeeded. But the frenzy of different genres is only confusing, not letting any one element shine. Also: EAT MY BALLISTICS!
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