E3 2009: WET Hands On Preview - If Kill Bill Was a Video Game...
Written Friday, June 12, 2009 By Dan WebbView author's profile
WET was the latest in a long line of the victims from the Activision and Blizzard merge saga to find a home with another publisher. Bethesda took the honours this time as they looked to add a new dimension to their catalogue and obviously saw the acrobatic shooter and over-the-top action game as a perfect fit. The A2M developed title tells the story of Rubi, a wetwork assassin (thus the name of the game) who doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty, and follows her in a long line of lavish, over-the-top, movie inspired action sequences.
It’s clear after spending more than two minutes alone with the title that A2M are big movie fans. You’ll see inspiration from a number of films ringing throughout the title, whether it’s the Crazy 88 sequence from Kill Bill, or the freeway car chase from the Matrix Reloaded. WET certainly doesn’t hold back and offers you plenty of variation which was blatantly clear from the opening chapters.
The crux of WET is simple ... Rubi is sent to retrieve a package, but as usual, it doesn’t go quite according to plan, and from there, everything seems to snowball into one set piece after another. The title is essentially an acrobatic shooter with plenty of sword play intermingled in, but you don’t really see that sort of potential unlocked until later on in the title. What I mean is, that they spoon feed you the action and hold back the full potential of Rubi by making you unlock her arsenal of more elaborate moves.
As far as mechanics goes, the game has a lot of fairly nifty features, although the controls can be a little bit finicky at times and definitely take some getting used to. In WET, linking combos and getting stuck in is the name of the game. Rubi does not regenerate health automatically and is fairly susceptible to damage. In order to get that much needed health back, you’ve got one of two options; one, find one of the sparsely located whiskey stations (yes, whiskey heals in this game), or two, link combos together because when you have your combo metre up, your health regenerates, and the higher your combo metre is, the faster your health regenerates. A nice way of encouraging players to keep the action fast and heavy if you ask us.
You start the game with a short tutorial to run you through the standard moves but it will take a bit longer to truly become comfortable with them. The key to combat is linking moves together to score more points, which can then be spent on upgrading our dark assassin at the end of each stage. The main move at Rubi’s disposal from the off is the ability to effectively slow down time whilst she is in the air to blast the hell out of bad guys. Whilst Rubi is in slow mo mode, she has the ability to dual target as well with the one gun being controlled automatically and the other aimed manually. This can either allow you to focus both guns on one character and become more effective, or in true assassin style, take out two foes at once in one dive. It’s not just about jumping slowly and shooting though. If you want to become more effective, you’ll have to link in certain moves along the way as well, whether it be a floor slide, wall run, or something else you unlock along the way. The first part of the game is essentially showing you the ropes, from the wall running kills, to the sliding down a ladder kills; whilst doing a little platforming along the way. The first section ends with a full scale brawl in the middle of a Chinatown-esque market square and then after you deal with that ... it’s “rage” mode time ... and boy is that fun!
The “rage” mode is a simple short 5 minute section where you actually get chance to utilise a fully upgraded Rubi for a short and hectic sequence. The rage mode is totally inspired by the Crazy 88 scene from Kill Bill and as Rubi gets a face full of assassin blood, the mode kicks off, the screens turns red and all you’ll see it black silhouettes and plenty of bad guys, as you literally go crazy. It’s only here when you realise how much has been held back from you in terms of moves as you combine throws, sword slices, uppercut sword strikes and so on, whilst painting the walls with the white blood of your foes. It's serious fun.
The third and final section of the hands on took place on a highway with Rubi car jumping on speeding cars trying to catch up with the package. The sequence takes place on the road leading up to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and has a totally different style and pace to what we just experienced. The scene took obvious inspiration from the freeway chase in the Matrix Reloaded and unlike the game thus far is full of choreography and scripted moments, tied together with a few quick time events. Not as fun as the rage mode, but a welcome change of pace and style.
Don’t expect any form of multiplayer in the title, it’s strictly single player. A2M are looking to increase the longevity of the title past the 10 hour single player experience with Rubi’s Boneyard –a mini open world with plenty of time trials and target ranges. They do have a more few tricks up their sleeve but they’re currently keeping their cards close to their chest on that one.
WET is a tongue-in-cheek and over-the-top action title, and doesn’t try to be anything more than that. The relatively steep learning curve and decision to lock the more adventurous moves of Rubi up until you progress through the game means that it’s going to be a slow starter. However, with all the variety of action on show, chances are it'll keep you amused till you unlock Rubi's full potential and really unleash the beast within. It’s gory. It’s in your face. It’s effectively Stranglehold on a budget. We just can’t wait to see how the final game turns out now.
WET is currently slated for a fall 2009 release.