Bethesda is a company known most prominently for its publishing of RPG games, most notably Fallout 3 and the Elder Scrolls series. So now that they’re expanding into action game territories – how does the Grindhouse-esque WET fare against the other, more experienced action games coming out of publishers like Activision and EA?
The story revolves around Rubi Malone, a femme fatale assassin/bounty hunter (voiced by Elisa Dushku, who’s making a surprising comeback these days), who is out to collect money for wetwork, namely thusly for the fact that the job gets so dirty with blood that it gets “WET”. The opening level in the game involves the delivery of a heart for a transplant patient whose son has hired Rubi to retrieve the heart. Once she delivers to him the heart, the story fast forwards one year and the man who received the heart hires Rubi once more to track down his son’s whereabouts.
Nothing too remarkable here except the ending of the game, which is surprisingly clever especially considering how crazy the beginning of the game is. The story is pure 70s-exploitation, even involving an extended trip to Hong Kong and taking down tons and tons of goons with guns, pipes, 2x4s, and swords.
Gameplay in WET
The real star of the show here is the gunplay and the sword fighting. Rubi maneuvers in the air like some sort of Cirque-du-Soleil reject with guns. For those who played the John Woo game called “Stranglehold”, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The whole premise of the gameplay is slow motion acrobatic gun slinging. You’ll ride along walls looking awesome while you’re gunning down multiple faceless goons, you’ll slide down ladders upside-down while firing off dual shotguns, and you’ll even power-slide along the ground and slice opponents in half on the other side using the sword.
The game takes advantage of its one great feature by giving you plenty of room to unleash Rubi in. In the arenas the game provides, the game transforms into pure gunfighting and breaking switches to stop enemies from streaming in. These parts will make you feel like the game is definitely worth the $60.
However, outside the arenas, in areas where Rubi needs to control more like Mario than like Stranglehold’s main character, she falters significantly. For whatever reason, the developer didn’t polish these portions of the game enough and Rubi ends up controlling more like the Michelin Man trying to pull off Prince of Persia’s moves. The platforming sections are so clunky and disjointed that you’ll often wonder if the developers were just having a great big laugh as you try to complete a level that feels tacked on and pointless.
WET is a game that falls into a weird uncanny valley in terms of its visuals. Rubi, the main character, at times looks great but at other times has a weird sort of double-chin that looks like something more akin to a graphical glitch than anything else. The character motions also fall flat, as they don’t have the lovingly rendered style of a motion captured performance.
The environments on the other hand, truly shine as every nook and cranny seems to ooze that great 70s style exploitation movie look. The weapons and the “overdrive” mode that Rubi occasionally enters also both look very characteristic and cool. The “overdrive” mode is particularly interesting, as it turns Rubi into a black silhouette inside a red, blood-washed world. The occasional times you enter this mode, you’ll remember for the duration of the game, as every physical action and sense is amplified.
Images From WET
WET is a tough one to judge. On the one hand, the gameplay is definitely solid and so is the story, but the frustrating platforming sections and the overdose of 70s-exploitation may turn off a lot of people. One easy way to find out whether or not you’ll like WET is to either rent it or try “Stranglehold” before buying anything. Renting is probably the better option because the game is not long at all, and once you complete it, there’s practically no reason to go back to it. Again, as I’ve said in other reviews this month, you’ll find that in this tough economy, your money is better saved up and spent somewhere where you’ll get mileage out of it.
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