The collective, Warner Brothers, Universal Pictures and GRIN hope you haven’t forgotten about last years comic to film adaptation in Wanted. Wanted, labeled Weapons of Fate continues the tale of a fraternity of assassins, and its outcast dealer of death Wesley Gibson. Now transformed into a gaming form we can test the weave to see if its a huge clusterf**k, or just the name of the first mission. Prepare to be curved.
GRIN takes a hold of the Wanted franchise and tweaks it to appeal to the fans of the comic, along with the movie goers who enjoyed last years film. The idea of releasing a game adaptation so late from the film release is a little odd, however giving the comics strong cult following and non-stop action, it was a formula that could work. Unfortunately, GRINs tweaked out job, wasn't tweaked enough. In what could have been an excellent gaming rendition of the action packed film, has turned into another missed attempt to cash in on a popular property. Wanted definitely has the back story, the balls-to-the-wall attitude, and the stylized action that would hold up in the gaming world, so you are probably wondering, what went wrong?
This answer is easy, the gameplay is tired and used up, and underwhelming graphics can’t stack up the excellent action that was shown off in the Bekmambetov film. Secondly, Wanted doesn’t hit the source material home like the comics brash remorseless tact, or the cool overdrive effects of the movie. Thankfully, all is not lost as GRIN does an excellent job bringing in a few of the elements that made the property so cool, mainly the ability to curve bullets and the no-hold barred style. For what GRIN gets away with, they do it well. It is just too bad Wanted feels like ten other games we have played in the last year.
In basics, Wanted: Weapons of Fate is a third-person shooter with a heavy cover mechanic installed. Wanted would probably like to be compared to Gears of War; however that simply isn’t going to happen. If I had to compare Wanted to another game it would be Dark Sector. Dark Sector was another cool, third-person, cover-mechanic styled action game that seemed to fizzle out even though it had a cool gimmick, and an interesting enough protagonist. Wanted has a little more in its favour with its film/comic tie-in, but by the same right, it fizzles out after a few hours just like Dark Sector. Before I get into the dynamics behind the gameplay, let’s focus on the storyline.
Weapons of Fate picks up about five hours after the events of the film. After being haunted by dreams in which his mother is murdered, Wesley follows the bloody trail of victims to uncover the truth about his family roots. Pulled into his pre-determined fate, Wesley takes on a mission to assassinate The Immortal who runs a French chapter of the Fraternity. Each mission is basically broken down around a set piece that has you eliminating squadrons of mercenaries. To displace the action away from Wesley, Weapons of Fate also includes playable flashbacks where you control Wesley’s father, Cross. Playing duel wielding Cross plays basically the same as his son, only a little quicker. Strangely enough Cross's back story is a more interesting then the current events. Together the flashbacks help reveal the truths in the storyline and draw the player into the game. All these elements are helped along by the inclusion of James McAvoy's likeness put into the game. James seems to fit Wesley’s character, and with other elements like the costumes from the comic add some spice that makes Wanted feel instantly familiar.
Back into the action, Wanted biggest crime would be its repetitive gameplay. The storyline does its best to propel the player through the motions, but the run-cover-shoot motions are dulling. On the games medium difficulty, the enemies must be fans of being slaughtered because the seem to love to sit and wait for that bullet to the cranium. Aside from a few diversions the majority of your foes can easily be dispatched, even without being cautious. My favourite moments in Wanted came to me when I blitzkrieg into a room and knifed everyone down. I’m sure GRIN didn’t intend on making Wanted the knife a focal point of the game, but the blood splatter that covered the screen was strangely more interesting then hitting the hundredth head shot.
For the tricky enemies flanking is your best bet, along side curving bullets. Curving bullets is one of the most interesting aspects of the Wanted franchise and seem to be made in paradise when merged with the gaming world. Curving bullets allows you to lob bullets out of your gun around objects to hit your target. This makes the impossible, possible, and GRIN did an excellent job introducing this tricky mechanic. Actually, after playing a demo last year and revisiting the game again, it seems almost too cool that no one has done it in the past. After you curving your first round of bullets in the training mission you will have a wow moment. Amazingly enough, curving bullets gets old and becomes Wanted version of bullet time.
To make it so you can’t snap off curved bullet after bullet, Wanted has made you need to fill an adrenaline meter before you can fire one off. The system is a trade off deal that works on kill-per-kill. You kill an enemy and you get one bullet of adrenaline, kill that enemy with your curved bullet and keep on rolling. Wanted doesn’t over abuse the system, but at the same time its not overly restricting. Like I mentioned above, the challenge is weak in Wanted without curving the bullets, and once you master that skill under your belt, boom! The bad guys have no chance against Wesley Gibson.
Breaking up the gameplay slightly are a few missions that involve on rails shooting spots where you have no control of the characters movements, only their gun. The first time I hit the rail part of a mission I felt like it was perfectly balanced in the game, but as you go on and hit them a little more frequently, it dulls out. They really don’t take any skill and only serve to distract the player from the real core gameplay. Secondly, Wanted has two turret missions that are poorly executed. I’d be amazed if you didn’t die a handful of times the first time around before you figured out what is going on. The two turret mini-spots in the game following Cross, and totally pointless and only showcases their sloppy execution. Even as bland as one concept formula, I would have taken that over these thrown in additions.
What else is missing? Well, Wanted has no multiplayer component which is disappointing. A few multiplayer modes might have pulled the score up a notch by giving players a new way to play the game. Wanted could have also used a few driving missions, or other stylized action diversions that didn't feature Wesley or his dad running around on foot. In the film we are treated to some amazing stunts that add to the suspense and magical feeling of an Assassin's power. In the game all we get is slow motion, and side-ways shooting bullets. Don't get me wrong, curving bullets is cool, but Wanted needed a little more gusto if it wanted to be as cool as the film.
Wanted: Weapons of Fate, unravels the Loom of Fate a little too much as the game adaptation feels less inspired then its source material. What could have been an amazing action game turns into a cover-by-numbers action title, something we have played a dozen times in the past. The only factors that help Wanted through the bad times are the fidelity of curving bullets and the philosophising plotline. Aside from a few "wow" moments, you’ll likely be in a daze as you work your way through the games short levels. Wanted: Weapons of Fate is a weekend rental, but not a full out purchase. It's unfortunate that Wanted has to be one of those failed attempts to recreate something that might be best left alone. Until Bekmambetov signs up for a sequel, I’d stick to re-watching the film.
Gameplay:6.5, Graphics:5, Sound:7, Innovation:6.5, Mojo:6 Final: 6.2 / 10
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 04.08.09