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Nerf brings some light hearted shooting fun to the Wii, this much was expected. But more surprising is that this outguns other on rails shooting Wii games offer a four player experience only matched by Ghost Squad Wii.
Shooting games present a world in which the character must shoot their way out of dangerous situations. They provide the player with an array of weapons tailored to specific tasks. This unavoidably involves a combination of fisticuffs and gun based fighting that dictates the violent nature of these experiences. Beneath this harsh exterior though is often an intricate tactile game - and this is usually what drives the player.
Nerf is unique not only because of it's toy tie-in, but because it keeps the shooting action firmly in the rubber darts territory and enables four players to play the game symaltaneously.
This is an on rails shooting game whereby players only control the on screen reticule rather than movement. These are games that evoelved oiut of arcade light gun cabinets, although here players use the Wii-mote rather than gun. Nerf comes packaged with its own dart gun come Wii-mote holster that adds some novelty to the experience.
Visually, this is not a million miles from other shooting games. It disntinguishes itself by stearing away from any blood or death - players only shoot robots. The large range of weapons on offer match the equally impressive range of Nerf water pistols and dart guns, and keep the projectiles in the same arena.
A single player campaign game leads the player through a series of challenges and levels with a cartoon story loosly linking them together. This is complemented with a multiplayer game for up to four players. Provided you have a Wii-mote for each player you can set up a series of shooting challenges to work through as a group. These range from traditional shooting levels to the more imaginative shooting blocks challenges that are similar to Boom Blox Wii.
Although there are alternative Wii on rails shooters, they rarely support 4 players. House of the Dead 2 and 3 Wii and House of the Dead: Overkill Wii both only support two players (apart from the odd minigame). Ghost Squad is the other notable exception providing 4 player action.
Younger players will be drawn to Nerf becuase of the franchise tie in, and the packed in plastic Wii-mote holster gun. Older players will also fun a lot of fun here particularly those looking for multiplayer experience.
As the multiplayer levels mount up and competition rises, players strain to get their shot in first. The balance of restrained task based levels and freedom of the pure shooting sections works well. As I worked through the game with four friends we remenisced how this was the most light gun fun we'd had since our sessions on Point Blank back in the 90's.
The main game is chapter based and lends itself to short intense play sessions. Most players will have seen most of the game in eight or nine hours. Mutliplayer game sessions, whilst not needing to be any longer, often draw out as players want just one more chance to out shoot each other.
Very young or novice players are likely to srtuggle with the accurate pointing requred from the Wii-mote. Those a little older though will soon get the hang of the action and should enjoy the simplicity that comes from just shooting.
The game's packed in Wii-mote holster is a nice idea, although it's a shame only one is included as young siblings vie for its use. We ended up interupting play for a quick craft session where we created out own cardboard toilet roll versions of hte holsters for other player.
Older and more experienced players looking for a challenging sinlge player game may be better served by House of the Dead: Overkill, whilst those looking for a four player storied experience will find Ghost Squad offers more rounded play. Those happy to keep the emphasis on fun rather than tension, will find plenty to enjoy here in Nerf's Point Blank style four player fun.
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