Bethesda and Artificial Mind and Movement bring down the house with WET, a radical new action shooter with all the mojo that never made it into Tomb Raider, or Stranglehold. In this combination shooting, swordplay and acrobatics, WET is drenched full of gaming goodness.
Bethesda Software switches gears from their normal role-playing epics to publish A2M's (Artificial Mind and Movement) action-packed adventure WET. WET is one of those games that comes out of nowhere and makes an impression. I’m sure that most gamers will form an early option from the first few levels in WET. Good, or bad, WET takes a little bit to get started, but once it gets rolling, there is no this explosive tale of bloodshed, mayhem, and monkies?!
Out in the Open
The core gameplay mechanics in WET revolves around acrobatic movement while shooting, or slicing your way through levels of mindless enemies. The action is set in the third-person perspective action and unlike other games, WET doesn't hide behind its own shadow. WET doesn't need to pretend that its more envolved then what it is. This barbaric action adventure pulls no punches about enemies respawning, or generic run-and-gun arena styled showdowns, ang guess what? it works. WET is a glorious reminder of what action games used to be able, pure adrenaline and fun with plot-lines and character interaction falling behind. This doesn’t mean WET has no story, its actually pretty damn entertaining in a B-styled action flick way. WET is refreshing and something I needed to sink my teeth into with all the AAA hitters are keeping the drama dark and heavy.
Controlling the action is fairly simple in WET even though it might look a little daunting from the screen shots. Easing the acrobatic madness with combat is done with a number of automated tweaks. Quick time events are often used in certain sequences which can even seem like a hybrid of a rail shooter. Quick time events are kept to a minimum, but still pop up every now and again. The balance is fairly even and even gamers who hate this type of gameplay could let WET slip on by. WET also incorporates an auto-aim and slow motion which is activated any time Rubi hits an acrobatic move like jumping in the air, or vaulting off a wall. There is no limit to how much you use this feature unlike other titles, so you are free to fire up the bullet-time at will. Rubi can also aim at two targets at once which helps her take down the overwelming odds she always has to face.
WET continues to innovate from the normal third-person action game with the use of multipliers that give out a bonus to your score. Multipliers are often found in 2D shooters and have been cleverly added to WET’s gameplay. These highlighted icons are always clearly and help lead the player around the map. Multipliers also help speed up the rate in which Rubi regenerates her health, so if not for any other reason always think of your health. Building up your kills keeps the multipliers running as you can fluidly slice through enemies with ease. The more points you gain, the more rewards you will gain. In a way WET reminded me of SEGA's The Club, another game that tried to make a typical game into more of an arcade experience.
At the end of each level a score is given out in three different categories: Acrobatics, Multiplier and Completion Time. Getting a good grade in each of these categories will give you extra points which can be used to unlock upgrades to make our lead herione Rubi more lethal than she already is. Spending points and upgrading is crucial to gaining the advantage over your enemies. From skills like being able to swap your sword while you slide on your knees to simple attributes like a health bonus, or bonus damage when shooting a type of gun is also included, WET has you covered.
In everything that Tomb Raider's Lara Croft isn’t, Rubi is. Lara would be blushing as Rubi Malone racks up the kills with her own wild-eyed style. Rubi is the driving force behind WET and her brash attitude and style makes her one of the stand out characters of 2009. Behind her one liners, cowgirl whiskey attitute, and ninja athletics, Rubi is a character with surprising substance. Even though Rubi is a little detached and unemotional you can't help to feel there is more to be uncovered. Hopefully, WET can conjure up enough sales to stick around for a few more games because I would love to see more of Rubi.
Under the Influence
The name Quentin Tarantino has been thrown around a lot when talking about WET. WET definitely has some elements of Quentin along with the famous term "Grindhouse" tacked into the soul of WET. Following Rubi in a murderous rampage down the rabbit hole finds her tangled up into a mess of playing the money-earning saviour and the unlucky victim. Like a Tarantino film, WET is filled with characters and almost laughable action sequences that can rival any big blockbuster action movie. A few of the action sequences like the Highway chase and the airplane jump are pretty wild and reminded me of several films and even another games (Wolverine anyone?). All these big action sets and scripted moments come together with an uncanny elegance with continuity that flows like a river.
Dushku Does Destruction
Helping kick this one-liner driven story along is a wild combination of alternative rockabilly music and a Hollywood filled cast. The voice-over talent obviously helps WET keep that quality feeling, although I’m sure non-celebrity actors could have done the same job. Knowing the American actress Eliza Dushku (Angel, Dollhouse) put her lips to the microphone to command the likeness of Rubi is kind of hot, but really, Eliza's voice-work isn’t anything overly amazing. The other members of the cast are actually allowed more freedom to play with their characters and it shows. I had a few favourites in my adventure and not one seemed like a wasted effort. The lip-synch from the graphics don’t always match up and for some this might be a little irritating, however given the wild visual style it might be the last thing you notice.
A Little Dried Up
So far I’ve been very positive about WET, and WET deserves it, after all WET is a solid action title; however it’s not free from its negative aspects. A few of the negative points involve the fluidity of Rubi’s movements and limited amount of moves. Rubi can jump around the levels like an acrobatic on speed; however her movements aren’t always graceful. Running up walls and transitioning into different moves doesn’t always go so smooth as you would wish, and Rubi can also get caught up on the environments now and again. This instantly makes the game feel a step below a lot of other action games that have a similar mechanic like Tomb Raider or John Woo Presents Stranglehold which is a shame.
Another negative point towards WET is that Rubi never seems to progress. The same flips and slides you are working with in the first few levels can carry you throughout the whole game. The variety isn’t mixed enough and besides the four weapons and dozen-or-so moves, we could have used more. Chopping down spawn points, small platforming jumps and mindless shoot em’ up action doesn’t always quench the thirst. In a way WET feels like it always needs something more, thankfully the wild visual style and super-smart camera direction keep you occupied from the fundamental game mechanics. Like the millions that line-up to see a summer blockbuster movie filled with sweet CGI and big action pieces, we don’t always expect hard hitting substance, we just want to be entertained.
All WET's "issues" makes the game feel a little under polished, but thankfully it never makes the game unplayable or less enjoyable. The entire package needs to be judged as a whole because the action, storyline, and visual presentation is so closely knitted together. Of course you can see a number of ways WET could have been improved, but as it stands WET is a solid game that made a good showing given its transitional past.
Even though I really enjoyed WET, it is obvious its over-the-top style and acrobatic shooting gameplay won’t be for everyone. WET is an aquired taste, and while some gamers will love to splash around in this off beat amusement of campy action, others will simply shake their heads. From an action standpoint, Rubi can lock and load with the best of them and what could have been a standard third-person action game turns into a unique and interesting breath of fresh air. Sure, WET has a few issues, mainly it’s a little too repetitive and lacks variety, but at least the same old repetitive action is fun. In a holiday season filled with franchise heavy hitters, WET is refreshing, and one title you shouldn't overlook. You might just be surpsied at how enjoyable this simple action game can be.
Gameplay:7.5, Graphics:8.0, Sound:8.5, Innovation:7.0, Mojo:9.0 Final: 8.0 / 10
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 09.27.09