Written : Friday, September 18, 2009
By: Lee Abrahams (GT: jackanape)
Considering the game's name you may well be expecting a lot of liquid, perhaps of the H2O variety. Sadly though, there is not very much of the damp stuff on offer here. Other than the water that features as part of a nice fountain that you'll leap over whilst firing oodles of bullets... or perhaps maybe the puddles of water that have a nice electric current running through them that you have to wall run over to dispatch the next foe, that's as about as wet as you'll get. Instead, WET refers to ‘wetworks’ – the form of dirty jobs that dubious agencies are known to partake in. Obviously our heroine is a dab hand at such tasks and goes about her business with acrobatic glee. The question here though is simply; have we seen it all before?
A sword to the gut a day keeps the doctor away.
Developed by Artificial Mind and Movement (A2M), this is a game that owes more than a nod to titles like Stranglehold (though thankfully it did not go as overboard on the budget as that particular effort). With the same emphasis on gunplay, over the top action and slow motion combat, it is easy to draw more than a few parallels between the two. Here though, the presentation of the game is key, as along with a number of highly stylized cut-scenes, some pulp fiction style interludes and a gritty edge; the game has a very Tarantino aura around it. For any gamers craving an action game with a nasty side then this is definitely it, not to mention the fact there is plenty of fun to be had as well.
The story is pure hokum and probably one of the weakest aspects of the game as it seems to prefer piling up one set piece after another rather than remaining coherent. You play the role of the humorously named Rubi Malone, who sounds more like a peculiar stripper than a ballsy gun for hire. Rubi will take on any job assuming the price is right, but she may have found herself in over her head when taking on a seemingly straight forward job for William Ackers - an evil drug kingpin with a penchant for canes and henchmen with odd nicknames. The story then lurches from one crazy location to the next, all on the pretext of Rubi carving her way out of trouble. Some of the characters you meet are so implausible or hideously clichéd that you will wonder how they got away with it. Thankfully the game is so stupidly over the top and tongue in cheek that you cannot help but go along for the ride.
Playing the game is never harder than simply shooting at everything that moves, though the emphasis here is on killing people in style. For some inexplicable reason Rubi can only shoot one gun, and slowly at that, while having both feet planted firmly on the ground. However, should she leap into the air then time will slow and a second weapon will come into play with which to deal twice the damage. The same applies while Rubi slides across the floor, runs up walls or swings from the scenery (should you have the right upgrades). It is mystifying, not to mention a little frustrating, that you cannot actually just run and shoot with any ease. Instead you are liable to be cut down in short order if you do not take advantage of the acrobatic moves on offer. So the whole game devolves into a chain of spectacular leaps and combos to get the best out of your arsenal which, while visually appealing, can lead to a number of frustrations.
Chopping people up is cooler when done with vivid colours.
Rubi has a variety of moves at her disposal, most of which slow down time to make combat that much easier, and as the game progresses you will also snag new weapons to compliment her trusty pistols and sword. The usual suspects are present in the form of shotguns, uzis and, more interestingly, dart guns, all of which are duel wielded for extra goodness. Enemies can be dispatched in a number of ways and kills will result in your combo meter growing and your points tally increasing. Obviously the higher your meter gets then the more points you can snag for each kill, plus you can increase your points by finishing enemies in various ways such as head or nut shots, explosive deaths or chaining together acrobatic moves between kills. All of your points can then be spent on upgrading your abilities or weaponry, so you can shoot faster, hold more bullets or even slice and dice your foes while sliding along the ground, to name but a few. It is a neat system and one that encourages non-stop action and an aggressive approach to combat – none of that standing back and picking off foes from afar. The health regeneration is also actively linked to your combos and multipliers so you will survive longer in combat by living dangerously than you would by running away – a neat concept.
A lot of the game takes place on precarious platforms and unstable rooftops, so having to leap back and forth all of the time can lead to a number of inadvertent deaths which soon becomes an annoyance. The out and out platforming sections are thankfully fairly entertaining and never outstay their welcome either, so you can easily leap from one area to the next without feeling cheated. With key abilities such as wall running it has a very familiar feel to it that will be instantly recognisable to anyone that has played Prince of Persia. Should you get stuck for answers then a quick click of a button will highlight climbable areas and show you the way forward.
One issue the game has, is in terms of its length. Frankly you will be able to breeze through the entire game on the lower difficulties in a matter of hours and whether you will feel the need to play through the game again is highly debatable. The higher difficulties offer more of a challenge but nothing that should trouble serious gamers. After that you can choose to play through the game via Golden Bullets mode (one hit kills), go through the challenge modes which require you to undertake a number of tricky tasks at the Boneyard or go through each level beating a specific points target. While the challenges are fun they are really only for the hardcore or those out for the full thousand points, which makes this game more of a rental for the vast majority.
Visually speaking the game is above average but not exactly stellar. It does not boast the amazingly destructible environments that Stranglehold did, nor does it have the gritty appeal of something like Gears of War. However, the pulp film style presentation more than makes up for the angular character models and clipping issues. The old school camera gives the game a movie feel and the odd sixties cut-scenes immerse you in the experience. Rubi can also enters "Rage" mode at times which washes the screen in red and highlights enemies as monochrome assailants for you to do away with. These sections look and feel breathtaking, but are all too few and far between. Where the game really excels though is in terms of the soundtrack which is quite simply awesome and perfectly matches the tone of the game whilst kicking into high gear during sections of extreme violence. Frankly it is one of the best soundtracks in any game and offers something unique during every single level. Having Eliza Dushku, Malcolm McDowell and Alan Cumming on board for voice work does not hurt the game any either.
Slow motion car chases – the Matrix has a lot to answer for.
It would seem that the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away in terms of achievements, as while the difficulty achievements DO stack, you will still need to play through the "Fixer" difficulty to unlock "Ultra Hard"... and then do another run through on Golden Bullets mode. Add to that the fact you will have to play through the levels on Points Count mode and you are looking at a whopping four attempts through the same old levels. Even the most battle hardened score whores may well balk at that. The other achievements are fairly simple and a bit dull, as there are a bunch of kills to snag with each weapon, monkeys to collect and scorpions to kill. Not to mention points on offer for amassing skill points and upgrading all attributes. This would be a surefire 1k for most if it were not for the multiple plays required and the tricky challenges.
It is hard not to like WET but sadly the game suffers from a rather incoherent story and from being far too short. With a lack of replayability - other than for achievement junkies - the game is ideally suited for rental fodder but shows promising signs for the future if a sequel ever rears its head. While it lasts, you will have plenty of fun leaping around in slow motion glory and the music and presentation are a welcome change from most run of the mill games. That aside though, this game feels like a cheaper version of Stranglehold and needs to step things up a notch to separate itself from the crowd.
Possibly the strongest aspect of the game. The voice work is pretty good though the script is so so. However, the soundtrack is quite simply one of the best I have heard on any game and always matches the tempo of the action perfectly.
Decent but not spectacular... even the lead character looks far too angular at times and has a haircut that will pop in and out of her forehead at whim. A few clipping issues are also more than apparent especially with the amount of acrobatics going on.
A fun diversion at first though one that will soon get repetitive. If you do not like the combat style then you may as well give up after level one, but for those that get into a rhythm of acrobatics, wall running and knee sliding, then this will be heaven.
A great pulp film style experience but one that feels a bit jagged around the edges and lacking in substance. However, there is plenty of entertainment to be had while it lasts though.
A fairly bog standard and boring list, and one that will require a minimum of three complete plays through the main game. Throw in a few tricky challenges, fairly easy weapon kills and the standard batch of collectables and you are pretty much done.
WET is certainly all about style over substance, but the rather short main story will not keep you occupied for too long. The presentation and music is spot on, but aside from a few achievements and challenge modes, there will be very little reason for most players to come back after one playthrough.