It’s funny, even though the Wii Remote and Nunchuck were tipped to be the ultimate control mechanism for FPS games when the Wii was first revealed by Nintendo, we haven’t had that many on the system compared to the Xbox 360. Red Steel was the first and whilst it was fun, the controls didn’t seem to live up to the initial speculation. Slowly but surely since then other titles have started arriving and the signs of games developers getting used to the Wii’s unique control system are good.
Metroid Prime 3 and Call of Duty World at War for Wii managed to get a rather convincing control scheme in place without resorting to ‘waggle’. The Conduit from Sega is aiming to pip them both as the Wii’s flagship title this year but quietly in the background Hudson Software (creators of Bomberman) have sneakily released their own First Person Shooter called Onslaught for WiiWare. Onslaught costs 1000 WiiPoints and uses up more than 300 or your precious system blocks but can this digital download title really compare to a full blown disc based game? Let’s find out now in our review of Onslaught for Wii.
Onslaught features two distinct game modes, the single player campaign and the multiplayer mode. Let’s focus on the single player game first which of course is where the game story comes in; Your squad has been sent out into the deepest reach of the galaxy to look for a lost research ship containing hordes of Cyborgs created by man to help terraform and colonize new planets, the distress signal has been located and is coming from the surface of an unknown planet called HS-0204. After finding the ship it’s pretty obvious that something bad has happened, it’s as if something has ripped it apart to find the crew or worse, escape. After you’ve setup base you soon respond to a distress communication from the original crew and so you head back to base camp to equip up but typically just before you get there you bump into a nasty bunch of robotic insects (Cyborgs) but thankfully you’re carrying a gun with just enough ammo to shoot to protect yourself with. So your mission is simple, find out what happened, kill as many of these devious Cyborgs as you can and escape before the nasty critters kill you instead.
So it’s time to grab your Wii Remote then point it at the screen to control your weapon aim and with it, the game camera. Just like in Metroid Prime 3 you move your cursor towards the screen edge to turn in that direction or keep pointing straight ahead to go forwards (using the Nunchuck stick to walk). Shooting is of course mapped to the B trigger button and whilst the onscreen crosshair is a bit big the aiming is very accurate, it feels so natural to kill the Cyborgs this way. You have an elctrowhip which you can wield at anytime by holding the Z button then flicking the Wii Remote, this is great little addition and once again feels so interactive on Wii, the whip itself is powerful but only for short range attack. For longer attacks you have a choice of a default three guns and a missile launcher (more weapons can be found later) which you can switch between by pressing the corresponding DPad direction (So only 4 guns can be carried per mission). Reloading is completed by shaking the Wii Remote just like in House of the Dead Overkill for Wii. The arsenal doesn’t end there; you can throw grenades with the Nunchuck and C button as well as pop into a giant multi terrain vehicle loaded up with Gatling guns. Awesome! Unusually you can’t actually jump so you’re always stuck to the ground, it feels a bit static but you do get used to it, after all, this is no platform game and real life soldiers only tend to jump out of planes, you don’t seem them hopping about too much on the TV news do you?
Unlike Metroid, Onslaught isn’t just based on one overall mission intersected with a few puzzles; here you’ll complete many missions in an attempt to complete the game. Of course they all involve you shooting at bugs but things get more varied when you have to protect your base from incoming hordes, get to a location in a set time limit or even infiltrating and destroying the hives. After each mission you’re given a score on several attributes (number of kills, time taken, health remaining etc) and ranked on your performance (S, A, B, C, etc) – these scores are uploaded to the online high score tables which we’ll get to later.
A rather interesting feature is that in most missions you have two CPU soliders alongside you to help fend off the nastiness, you can tap the A button to change the formation in which they follow you too – very cool. It’s true that whilst there are a range of insect Cyborgs to kill they all do have a similar look about them, that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to blast them and watch the acidic blood splatter on your visor though (oh yes, you have to wash it off by waving the Nunchuck before it burns through your suit and into your skin, clever). There isn’t a huge amount of artificial intelligence to battle but on the harder difficulty settings the huge waves of Cyborgs and the occasional giant boss is more than enough of a match without needing baddies with brains.
Now let’s look at the multiplayer mode; unusually for a Wii title there is no local play, everything is done online via the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection. You can either choose to play with friends (via friend codes) or random people online from all over the World or those just in you region. There are no capture the flag modes to be found here, rather than those typical modes and probably another first for Wii is the ability to play through the missions from the single player campaign with up to three other people in a near coop fashion, your ranking scores will also be submitted to the online high score tables for everyone to look at too. If only there was the ability to use the WiiSpeak microphone then Onslaught would be competing very well against similar themed games on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. So whilst the multiplayer mode feels a little lonely with no voice chat it still rocks in terms of gameplay and considering this is a WiiWare title it’s all the more surprising. A standard deathmatch mode against your friends would have been nice but then if the game engine would have limited it to just four players then it may well have been a bit boring during the games development hence Hudson’s decision to include cooperative instead. Onslaught has the best FPS multiplayer gaming on Wii so far and only The Conduit (a game that will be four times its price) will likely exceed it, great stuff.
Graphically Onslaught is kept quite basic to keep the file size down but even so, when it’s running in front of your eyes things aren’t quite as bad as the screenshots may appear, sure the detail is low but everything is textured well enough and the framerate is solid at all times, a bit of variation wouldn’t have gone amiss here and there but this is by no means a bad looking game. Onslaught’s sound effects and music are actually pretty good; yes some of the digital speech is a bit poorly recorded and get’s on your nerves but at least there is some there to be heard. The separate snippets of chatter that emanate from the Wii Remote speaker are terribly fuzzy but that is really down to the cheap hardware Nintendo is using rather than a development issue, I have a feeling newer Wii Remote’s in the future will probably have a better sound but for now this is the best we have.
Onslaught on Wiiware looks and feels very much like the original Metroid Prime for the Nintendo GameCube (which in my opinion was the best in the series), large wild desolate environments (and even the odd cave) mixed with plenty of alien creatures that take a sudden dislike to you and your bullets. There’s no fussy plot line involving a love affair between an interspecial couple, neither will you be asked to fight waves of Nazi troops and nor are you a lone seemingly invincible solider with here to save the universe. Onslaught brings it all back to pure FPS goodness, you, a gun and a baddie! You could call me crazy for comparing this to Gears of War but honestly, if you took away all the of the gloss, cut scenes and recorded speech from the 360’s flagship game you’d actually be left with something quite like Onslaught.
So for all of you pronouncing that the Wii would just remain full of party games for kids can finally put your whiney voices to rest, Nintendo, Retro, Hudson, Sega and others are bringing hardcore titles to Wii and if you want more then you’ll have to start buying unique and interesting titles like Onslaught. Gears of War meets Metroid may sound an exaggeration but it’s as near possible on WiiWare and at just 1000 WiiPoints is a bargain compared to many full price games available right now. Onslaught for Wii scores a rather excellent 8 out of 10 and we hope it meets with enough success for Hudson to release a more ambitious sequel in the future.
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