WET is a title that was at one time stuck in limbo with the giant partnering of Activision and Blizzard. This resulted in the publishing rights of the game being dropped. Thankfully, Bethesda Softworks saw the potential that this game carried and offered to publish it for Artificial Mind and Movements. Now, it’s not every day that I get the opportunity to pop in a game that reminds me of going to the drive-in to watch a 1970s action flick on film. Enthusiasts who reminisce about the good old days of grainy resolution on film and the authenticity it brings to the experience will feel right at home playing WET. With its Grindhouse-like presentation, gamers who enjoyed Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill masterpieces may get the impression that this game somehow plays homage to a mixture of those titles. However, the end result falls short of doing them any sort of justice.
Regardless of how you look at the game, the similarities between titles like Stranglehold and Max Payne are evident throughout. One of the key elements to WET’s full-on experience is the “bullet-time” slow motion gameplay which is at the core of both aforementioned titles.
Users take over the role of Rubi Malone, a leather bound mercenary equipped with pistols, shotguns, small machine guns and crossbows while utilizing a samurai sword for close encounters. To be honest, if she was only carrying a sword, you’d almost feel like The Bride throughout. The title follows our mercenary vixen throughout a couple of preliminary missions in order to get the player adjusted to the controls before throwing you into the meat of the game.
WET’s entire story is based around Rubi Malone’s deadly desire for revenge and vengeance against a ruthless millionaire who hired her for a job and left her for dead. Funny thing is, two years earlier, Rubi took a job from this same man in which she saved his life by procuring a heart for a transplant. This was definitely not her idea of a “Thanks.” As expected, this “not so kind” level of appreciation has sent Rubi on a path filled with rage that propels the story forward.
WET’s gameplay mechanics are simple and follow the suit of many games within its genre. You utilize your shoulder button to shoot at enemies while the face buttons determine your actions. In order to jump and trigger the slow motion shooting experience, you press X. To slide on the ground and shoot, you press O, and to wall run and shoot, you press L1. Square is your designated button for sword attacks, which are useful coming out of slow-motion mode as well as during close quarter combat.
Unfortunately for most, Rubi does not come with a variety of maneuvers outside of these main mechanics. Of course, you are able to bridge one movement to the next, but the game lacks any type of evolution of your character’s abilities outside of highly generic upgrades. During certain segments of each chapter, you’ll be given the opportunity to increase your life bar, or increase your pistol damage/speed, etc… but there is never anything substantial that you can add onto your character that doesn’t eventually render the fighting mechanics very stale and repetitive.
Truthfully, there is only so many times you can jump into the air while shooting, land into a slide while continuing to shoot followed by standing up with a sword attack before getting utterly bored with the process. Considering the bulk of the title has you fighting a very linear path with no room for real creativity, this type of fighting mechanic needs some sort of evolution in order for the game to continue to appeal to its users.
Continuing on the path of staleness, it seems as though WET follows the same script for each Chapter of play. Gamers will follow their path until they reach an “arena” willed with auto-respawning bad guys to kill. The idea behind the arena is to eliminate skull symbols to prevent more bad guys from respawning from that specific location. Once that is done, you’ll continue on to the next segment until you once again reach another arena.
Sadly, none of this repetitive style of play leads to anything climatic. Once you reach your final destination and boss fight for every given chapter, a Quick Time Event sequence is initiated leaving any opportunity of self fulfillment to go wavering out the door. Instead of limiting users to utilizing a QTE to eliminate the bosses, A2M should have allowed users to defeat the main villains through their own means via the standard mechanics. It could lead to the development of actual strategies and therefore would remove some of the staleness from that aspect of the game – however, that is simply not the case.
If the main story mode grows a little too boring for you, there is always the option of doing Boneyard Challenges. BCs take place at Rubi’s home in what can only be described as a junkyard. These challenges are often timed with goals to receive medals in the Gold to Bronze range. They involve gamers jumping through rings while enabling the acrobatic slow motion style of combat in order to shoot out targets to save time. While this would be fun to compete in with friends, it doesn’t really add any needed longevity to the title itself.
I know this is making the game sound like a very dry title, but it does have its high points. One of the coolest video game sequences I’ve ever played has to take part early on in WET during the Matrix-like scene on the highway. Rubi must QTE and shoot enemies while making her way from car rooftop to rooftop on her way to Simmons. It’s an exciting part to the game and is followed closely by a sky-diving opportunity shortly after. Its little things like this that may help some get to the end of the title without getting too bored.
Another very positive element to this title is “Rage Mode.” This is usually triggered when Rubi makes a close-range kill resulting in the blood of her victim splattering across her face. This turns the entire game world into a comic book-esque red, white and black. During this time, Rubi is able to shoot at an alarming rate while stacking up her multiplier with every successful kill. This part of the game is good old fun and as close to the Crazy 88 scenario in Kill Bill that you’ll find.
This is another sticking point for me in the realm of disappointment regarding WET. It almost feels as though A2M wanted to originally deliver this game within the last generation, but did just enough visual upgrading to make it marketable in this one. The character design is very mediocre and outside of Rubi, there is little attention to detail throughout the other characters in the game. Each main boss has his stereotyped followers but there is very little to separate one from the other. The same can be said for the environment and the texture work.
However, the game does exceed in the atmosphere and the execution of cinematic styling that they attempt to pull off. While playing the game, I felt as though I was at the drive-in watching the grainy resolution on the big projector screen. The closer you get to dying in the game, the grainier that screen becomes. Throw in the added intermission commercials and you have a delivery worth taking pride in. Ultimately, this wasn’t enough to overcome the game design in general though and once the nostalgia of the drive-in ERA ends within your mind, you’ll be back to being disappointed in the game for what it offers.
Despite its shortcomings throughout the rest of the game, I actually enjoyed the sounds and score of the game a lot. The gun shots and action sequences may be generic, but the score itself helps pull you into the movie experience the developers were trying to create. From the reel sounds of the film being burned up to the ominous sound of rage mode taking effect, WET definitely delivers in this category.
When it comes to the dialogue, it’s exactly what you’d expect. Slide any B-movie into your DVD player and the script could probably fit. The stereotypes are obvious and the dialogue follows suit. Rubi is as foul-mouthed as you’d expect a ruthless mercenary to be. While this may bother the bigger film critics, it fits so well with this style of game that it almost feels perfect.
WET is a mixture of both the Tarantino world and the drive-ins of the past. While it excels in delivering the atmosphere it intends on delivering, it fails to do anything truly inspiring or original. Though it does feel a step up from Stranglehold, the lack of evolution in the fighting mechanic truly holds the game back. With repetitive gameplay and animations out of the last generation of consoles, I’d recommend any gamer interested to rent it first to make sure it’s a title for you. Otherwise, you may end up getting home and being disappointed.