There are a dizzying number of subgenres that exist underneath the umbrella of first-person shooters: tactical, sci-fi, World War II with regular Nazis, World War II with magical Nazis, and so on. The list could go on for days, but you'd be hard-pressed to find many games that portray the gritty, no-holds-barred combat of playground water-gun fights. For Wii owners, that will soon change with the release of Water Warfare on WiiWare. This first-person shooter from Hudson trades in AK-47s and blood for super soakers and characters with bulbous anime eyes in a family-friendly action experience.
Right from the outset, you're given a chance to put your own creative stamp on the game by designing a customized character. Basic options include size and gender, and from there, you can choose from a number of cartoonlike faces. Then, you can choose clothing (do you fight in military camouflage or a basketball uniform? The choice is yours), hairstyle and color, and skin type. In our time playing Water Warfare, we made characters ranging in appearance from cutesy green-haired schoolgirls to grizzled Vietnam veterans who could likely assemble a water gun in 10 seconds flat.
For a downloadable game, there are a solid number of gameplay modes in Water Warfare. Single-player comes in both Mission mode and Match mode flavors. The former is a collection of small missions that begins with series of tutorials, which get you used to the controls and various items in the game. Later, these become a series of one-off missions that require you to shoot so many targets within a time limit or KO so many opponents before you run out of respawns. Match mode allows you to create traditional multiplayer matches against AI opponents, choosing from a number of game modes that include takes on Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and Territories.
There are also a number of multiplayer options. You can share in the same single-player experience with another person by going split-screen, but you can also take your water-gun skills online via Nintendo Wi-Fi. These matches are more or less the same as what you'll find in the single-player Match mode selection screen--traditional game modes set on playground-themed maps--but against up to seven other human opponents.
All of these different modes share one common trait: nonviolent water-based warfare. Guns you use include peashooters, machine guns, bazookas, and sniper rifles--all firing streams of water that can be refilled by hanging out at a water fountain or simply picking up a new gun scattered around the map. Adding some chaos are power-ups lying around the world like banana peels you can throw to make people slide out of control and rain jackets you can wear to deflect some of that water damage.
Water Warfare strikes us as a light and simple, but ultimately serviceable first-person shooter. It offers an extremely bare-bones presentation balanced out by a number of game modes with surprisingly broad multiplayer support for a WiiWare game. No price point has been announced, but you can expect to see it arrive this summer.