WET ESRB Rating: M for Mature
Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: A2M (Artificial Mind and Movement)
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: September 15, 2009
The new game from publisher Bethesda — the brilliant developers of classics like The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Fallout 3 — and developer A2M, WET is a game that immediately grabs your eye when you see it. Its look of pure Grindhouse-esq exploitation cinema of the 70s leads you to believe that you’re about to play a Quentin Tarantino movie, and whether you ultimately like the game or not, that alone is worth giving it a fair go.
WET follows Rubi Malone (Eliza Dushku), a bad-ass problem solver who gets what needs to be done, done…so long as the price is right. The game opens with her chasing down a man who steals what she was paid to acquire, which leads to an epic chase right off the gun that ends in a freeway car chase that would bring a tear to the eye of Michael Bay. As it turns out, the item she was paid to retrieve is a human heart that would save the man who hired you’s father. A year later, this man (Malcolm McDowell) comes back to thank her for the heart, and to hire her for another job: to find and bring back his AWOL son. This job sets off a chain of events that are a little too spoilery to share here, but let us just say that Rubi isn’t thrilled about how things go, and many, many, many, many people die because of it.
When you play this one, fair warning to all: do not expect a great storyline with complex characters and situations. No, this game isn’t made to be that at all; it is made to be a stylistic action game where you rampage your way through an unbelievable amount of people to get to the bottom of things. One might think this would quickly come repetitive, and they would be right at some points. But for some strange reason, even though it is repetitive at times, it never became boring. The reason is most likely in the variety of methods to accomplish each situation. Considering that Rubi is one of the deadliest women ever seen this side of Kill Bill‘s the Bride, the ways to end someone standing in your way’s life are bountiful.
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Rubi wields multiple guns — handguns, uzis, shotguns — along with a bow that fires explosive rounds, and best of all: your deadly steel blade. When you get into a mess, it becomes unquestionably chaotic, so all power to you if you want to just run in guns blazin’ and sword dismembering. If intensity throws you off, there are options to slide on your knees, jump through the air, or run along walls — all enter you into a slow motion mode while shooting, much like Max Payne‘s bullet-time. For me it depended on the situation; sometimes I had fun at full speed, and sometimes it just made more sense to enter slow it down and even the odds…ESPECIALLY when a giant man hauling around a turret gun comes into sight — they are a pain in your ugly end. And as much fun as guns are for most people, I’m particularly fond of a good sword in all things, movies or games, so that was my weapon of choice here.
All of the crazy ways to kill your enemies is well-enough in itself to maintain entertainment, but it doesn’t end there. WET also offers a lot of acrobatic work to get from place to place. In the same vein as Prince of Persia, you’ll have to scale high walls, shimmy along ledges, and spin ’round and ’round on bars like a gymnast. This element isn’t a deal-breaker one way or the other, but it is better than just running around, so for me personally, it added just a bit more fun to the experience. Expect the gameplay to be a little rugged at times, as you’re sure to find yourself jumping off a ledge or somewhere else that will lead you to certain death. It happens in most games like this, but still worth note. I can’t suggest it enough: when you start your campaign, turn the sensitivity ALL the way down. Maybe it’s just I, but even the slightest touch sends you shooting off in one direction or another, so this was necessary for me. Even on the lowest setting, it was sometimes a little too sensitive for my liking.
WET also does a fantastic job of mixing things up on a few select levels, just to ensure that you don’t get too bothered by the repetition of the core gameplay. These unique levels come in three waves: the above-mentioned car chase, Rubi’s bloody rage levels, and a free fall through the skies. The bloody rage levels happen multiple times throughout the story, and you’ll go into a weird, almost cartoony world where you run around at an unstoppable pace taking out everyone with ease. There’s also a second car chase sequence done in this style. The free fall is from a plane and involves you dodging debris and shooting enemies in mid-air. Again, really well-done levels to shake things up a little and keep you entertained.
Out of everything, my favorite thing about this game is actually two things. First off, is the visuals. The visuals in WET aren’t the best ever made, but they do a great job in selling it off as a real Grindhouse adventure. The screen has that scratchy, twitchy old film look to it (you can shut this off if it annoys you, but I preferred it for tone!), and there’s even some of those classic drive-in movie interval clips to really set the mood. You might just as well just put this out on DVD. The second thing that I really loved goes hand-in-hand with the cinematic style, and that’s of course the soundtrack. If anything relates this to a Tarantino movie, it’s the music; the type of music that you’ve never heard of, but fits so perfectly. There was a few times when the music kicked into gear and Rubi starts fighting, and you will find yourself having a ton of fun.
As always, I like to also offer some negatives to be as informative as possible. Here, the obvious ones are the story/characters, and the price. There is a story there, but it’s fairly simple, and there’s really no character development at all, so it’s tough to like one person or hate the other. As mentioned before, the story is NOT the priority, so for what it is, things work just fine; it’s mainly the lacking characters that stick out. Even so, I’m someone whose main concern in a game is the story. I play pretty much all games on the easier difficulties — not because I can’t handle the challenge, but because I could care less about the challenge. If I get to a spot that I just can not get by and I have to play it 56 times and fight the same dudes 56 times, it sets me off and completely takes away from the experience. The games with just the right about of difficulty and a smooth, entertaining progression of story are the ones nearest to my dear heart. This is also a GOOD thing for WET, because if it has as little story as it does and still entertains me and has me wanting to play it again, then something is working here, folks. As for the price, the argument with this and many other games like it, is that if they’re short and sweet, they shouldn’t tote the full $60 price tag. This isn’t WET‘s fault, that’s just the way it is, but certain games like this, Halo 3, Gears of War — games that run like playable movies and are much shorter than other 20+ hour titles — should be marked down to the $40-ish range to be more appealing and accessible.
The point in all of this is that a game doesn’t have to be perfection to be a hell of a lot of fun. Thus far, WET isn’t getting the best of reviews — typically netting itself a 6 or 7 score — from most critics and players, but don’t let this reserve you from at least renting it to see whether it’s worth your money or not. Gaming purist who only want the best of the very best won’t be impressed, but if you’re like myself and care about only one thing, the entertainment value, do yourself a favor and check it out at least via rental and decide from there.