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Water Warfare - WiiWare Review

Game Info
Water Warfare

WiiWare | Hudson | 1 Player / 2 Players (local multiplayer/co-operative play) / 2-8 Players (online versus/co-operative play) | Out Now | 800 Nintendo Points 
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote and Nunchuk; Classic Controller; Wii Zapper
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29th May 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

Described as the world's premiere "first-person soaker", Water Warfare sure had some mixed reactions when it was first announced for WiiWare. Some prematurely criticized the look of the game, while others commended Hudson for even taking up such an endeavour in the first place. In the end, the game turned out great and it's still a fantastic download for Wii owners, whether young or old.

    Starting off, you'll get to customize your own in-game character using a simple editor. Whether male or female, you can adjust height and width, facial features, and choose from a small selection of outfits. Using different combinations, you can make your character look aggressive, wacky, spiffy or even cute-looking. Either way, the models have a fair amount of detail to them, and they look pretty good. 

    In case you didn't already know, the main gimmick of this release is that it's a family-friendly FPS. The developers have replaced blood and violence with water and mischievous antics. And you may be surprised to find that it's much better than you might expect. The game allows you to play using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, the Classic Controller or the Wii Zapper peripheral. Using the default control scheme, the A button is used to jump, C is to activate your item, and Z allows you to zoom in when you have a sniper rifle in your possession. When you want to fire a shot, aim your weapon using the controller's IR, then press B to fire. Pressing the same button will also enable you to take weapon pick-ups scattered throughout each level. And when playing an online match, you can also use the D-Pad to configure and express messages in the event box in the bottom-left of the screen. After a few training sessions, you'll get the hang of the controls and be ready for a water-filled fight. 

The in-game display is also quite informative. The top left is your item container, while the bottom right gauge represents your weapon's water levels. Just above that is a portion of the map, which will not only give you an overview of the stage, but also show teammates and (for a short while) opponents who have recently been hit. It's a shame you can't hide this using the 1 or 2 Button for when want to get a better view of what's in front of you. The top-right corner represents your health, or how wet you are. When your t-shirt is fully wet, you'll get knocked out but if you have a life remaining, you'll respawn. Passing your cursor over an on-screen opponent will display their name along with a small t-shirt icon to represent their own "health" levels. The dialog box at the top of the screen is what you can refer to keep track of your progress. It will display relevant info depending on the mode you're playing, including number of KO's, amount of players left and so on. Additionally, by pressing the Minus Button you can access more in-depth info on the number of KO's each person has score as well as the number of lives they've lost.

    Exclusing the Training Area, Water Warfare features four different environments in the game, each featuring a small and a large map. There's a beach area; the playground, complete with its own jungle gym; the open-spaced nature park; and the plaza area, arguably the most fun of the four. They look pretty inspired and they have some nice aspects to them as well. And the music is very fitting as well, suiting the gameplay's whimsical nature. With the exception of the Nature Park, there are plenty of hiding places that you can take advantage of. You can hide inside stage props such as stone forts, or even head underground inside a tunnel. There's also lots of room for player mastery and effective use of tactics. The more you play, the more aware you'll be of some of the strategies you can put into action over the course of a match.

There's a good variety of weapons (or "guns") as well. You have a sniper rifle, a powerful water launcher, and even a rapid-fire shotgun that allows for dual-wielding. Natuarlly, they each have their own strengths and weaknesses in terms of such areas as damage, fire rate, water refill speed, etc. Some weapons can cause splash damage and even get you wet, so be careful. Players will also discover a wide array of items that you can use to help you gain an advantage over your rivals. The Surprise Device, for example, will perform a random action, producing such effects as limiting everyone's view to short-range for a short while, or plugging up the weapons of the other team. There's a lot to experiment with so be on the lookout for them and see how you can make the best use of them.

    Water Warfare sure isn't lacking when it comes to content. For starters, the single-player option allows you to play Mission Mode or Match Mode. The former allows you to go through over 30 missions, completing objectives in the fastest time possible and aiming for Gold Medals. Defeating bosses will allow you to unlock these characters for use in replacement of your custom characters. Secondly, Match Mode allows you to play against CPU's in one of 6 different gameplay modes: Battle Royale, Death Match, Treasure Chest, Assault, Base and Point Rally. Additionally, some of these can be toggled to individual or team matches. Honestly, the CPU's aren't that challenging for older games, even when set to the 'Hard' setting, so beyond exploring each mode, you might not come back as often if playing on your own. 

Before moving on, though, it would be appropriate to consider how each of the aforementioned modes differ in terms of gameplay. In Battle Royale, everyone has 2 lives and it's a fight to be the last person or the last team standing. To win a Death Match, you'll need to be the first person to reach 10 KO's, or be the first team to reach 20 KO's. In Treasure Chest, players must go to their rival's base, steal a treasure chest and bring it back to their base - the first team to bring 3 back wins. Assault is another fun one with a bit of role-reversal. In phase one, the first team will try to steal the other team's base in the fastest time possible; then, in phase two, the second team will have to try to beat the time set by the first set of players. In Base, players race to get 100 points by claiming and taking control bases for as long as they can. And finally, Point Rally is a foot race through a series of checkpoints.

The game also comes with a local multiplayer component for two players. It can be a lot of fun to face a sibling or a friend in the same room as you. However, it uses a horizontal split-screen setup, and as a result, it can be hard to get a good look of everything that's going on at once. This is why online is where 90% of the enjoyment from this title comes from. You can participate in matches with up to 8 players using Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Not only can you play with registered friends (using codes), you can also play with strangers in Regional or Worldwide battles. All of the modes from the offline component can be selected for online play, which is great to see that nothing was left out. Once you get a group going with at least one other person, you can send messages to everyone using pre-determined comments. If a match is already underway, you have the option of spectating the battle while you wait. Once everyone has confirmed that they're ready to begin, the stage you play on will be chosen at random based on what everyone elected for. At the conclusion of a match, you'll be allocated points for good plays, including winning with no items, or taking the first shot. All of these points go towards your overall point totals on the leaderboards, and depending on the number of points you have, you can earn new ranks or trophies.

Water Warfare came out nearly a year ago and there's still an online community present here. Team Battles are especially popular, in particular during evenings and some afternoons. The Top 30 worldwide ranking tables are now overrun with players who have reached the cap of the highest possible amount of points, but it's still interesting to see how you rank in your part of the world against other people. In terms of activity, as time went on following this release, participation in other modes died off. It's a huge shame, really, since most of them are a lot of fun and some like Treasure Chest focus more on skill as opposed to raincoat spamming. 

On that note, a good chunk of players spam raincoats and hammers (items used for invulnerability) while playing online, and this can be rather irritating. Players do have some level of control over it if they're good, though. A more pressing issue, though, is the prevalence of cheaters who use glitch exploitation on the Plaza stage to go through walls and travel to otherwise-inaccessible parts on the map. I wish there was some way for Hudson to address this issue with an update, so the fun of the online mode could be preserved.

I purchased this game when it first came out and since then I've clocked in over 160 hours into it. It's my most-played WiiWare game and even many months later, it's still loads of fun. Don't let the childish look fool you, this game isn't just for younger gamers. There's a lot of enjoyment to be had online, even in spite of its issues. The solo experience is decent for what it is and it's a good way to "wet" your feet for online competition. How exciting it would be if Hudson released a sequel for this game with improvements (such as no raincoats) and new maps. Until that day comes, if you're looking for a fun game to play using Wi-Fi Connection, this is definitely it.

28/30 - Excellent

Gameplay 9/10 - Very unique FPS, great variety of items and weapons, plenty of room for experimentation, some minor drawbacks
Presentation 9/10 - Models look pretty good, fair amount of customization, multiple maps, HUD can be distracting but you get used to it, whimsical music
Enjoyment 5/5 - Tons of fun especially when you play online, single-player can be fun for a while but CPU's aren't very challenging, fun for young and old
Extra Content 5/5 - Six different modes to choose from, carries a wide range of appeal, over 30 single-player missions, 8-player online multiplayer

Equivalent to a score of 93% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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Water Warfare
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