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WET Review

WET pack shot
Developer:Artificial Mind & Movement (A2M)
Publisher:Bethesda Softworks
Genre:Thrid Person Action
Platform:Xbox 360
Official Site:http://wet.bethsoft.com
Release Date:September 18th, 2009 (UK)
Reviewer:Andy Hemphill (Bandit)
 

Despite its suggestive title, Wet has very little to do with water. Instead the word is an abbreviated version of 'Wet work' - a term meaning black-ops, underhanded skulduggery and missions which result in your hands being literally wet with blood. So, in this case, it's an appropriate title.

The main character of this blood-drenched death fest, Rubi Malone, is a hard-nosed gunslinger only interested in money. Be it assassination, escort, robbery or demolition, she's your gal, and with an arsenal of guns and her deadly sword skills there's no one better at wet work.

The story itself centres on the underworld, the drugs trade and the machinations of a bunch of scumbag drug dealers. Though there are a few minor plot twists, the storyline is not all that engrossing, and mainly serves to tie the action together roughly.

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This is a shame as the grindhouse cinema feel the game presents (and with the writer of TV's 24 on board); it could have had a really good tale to tell. As it is the plot take a backseat to the action and as the game is pretty much a non-stop blast through legions of henchmen and the occasional boss fight or set-piece chase, that's not always a bad thing.

The game itself is a homage to the grindhouse movies of the 50's, 60's and 70's, and everything takes place under a gritty, old-film-style filter, with all the dodgy camera shifts and zooming photography which marked that era of cinema. This doesn't detract from the game however, and I found it a lot of fun to feel like you're playing a movie, even down to the way the film burns up when Rubi dies (an occurrence which can happen quite often).

Another nice touch is the American-style interlude videos which play while the game is loading, featuring warnings about driving off with the drive-in theatre's speakers still in your car, or tempting invites to go buy ice cream or Mr Dill's Pickles in the lobby, which add a wonderful kitschy feel to the bloodbath which ensues during the gameplay.

Speaking of gameplay, the game takes place from a third person perspective, portraying all Rubi's many acrobatic moves in full action-hero style.

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Rubi is a skilled fighter, swordswoman and dual-wield pistol expert, and can also go into slow-mo every time she does a wall run, jump, slide, swing, backflip, pole vault, pole swing, zipline ride or forward roll- she's pretty lithe. While in slow-mo Rubi dual-wields her pistols/shotguns/machine guns. One automatically aims at an enemy while the player controls where the other pistol is pointing. Using this method makes mowing down the enemy really easy, as well as making you feel like a double-hard killer.

At times Rubi also goes a bit nuts, known as 'rage' mode. When Rubi loses her temper the bounty hunter can suddenly move twice as fast, shoot faster, and slash with twice the speed. The visual filter also suddenly goes a bit Tarantino, shading everything in white, red and black, sort of like the opening credits for 2007's Casino Royale.

While this can be a little jarring at fist, once you get used to the sudden change the variety can be quite refreshing, though the three-colour filter makes it difficult to pull off Rubi's acrobatic moves.

While the acrobatic side of the action is pretty well implemented, and the added 'Rubi Vision' button (which shows what can be climbed/run on/backflipped off) makes navigating the various dingy environments pretty easy, the controls can feel a little bit loose, and it's easy to make a misstep, miss a jump or find yourself stuck in the scenery from time to time.

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The graphics themselves are also a little rough around the edges. While there is a satisfying range of environments and some brilliant set pieces- freefalling from the sky as bits of burning plane fall past you, for example- the textures are gritty and the physics effects can sometimes send items in the environment bouncing unrealistically around the area. Though most of this is covered by the gritty, grindhouse filter, when it's turned off the graphical impurities shine through.

The character mapping is also a little slapdash. Lip syncing is off throughout the entire game and can often take on a badly-dubbed movie feel. The NPCs appear bland and blocky, which is a shame as the range of outlandish characters makes for an interesting tale- my personal favourite is the German cowboy who fights with two rapiers...

Conversely, the sound design for the game is brilliant. The voice acting is spot on, pulling off grindhouse cliche's without being over-the-top, though Rubi's constant repetition of catchphrases: "Goodnight Gracie!", "Try harder", "No chance!" et al, gets irritating fast.

However, the enemies can sometimes come out with the funniest one liners in the middle of battle, and it's good to see Bethesda still has a sense of humour - like the time Rubi was facing a Triad gang in Hong Kong, only to have a sword-welding Chinese man yell "Taste my special sauce bi*ch!" before charging, sword held high, only to be shot in the face.

My personal favourite aspect to the game is the soundtrack, which is simply brilliant. Mostly consisting of punk rock and a bit of metal, the music accompanies the action perfectly, as well as being toe-tappingly good tunes. I'm even considering buying the soundtrack on its own, if I can find it - it's that good.

Summary

Overall, Wet is a decent title with a rocking soundtrack and an interesting approach to the third-person action genre. Though a little rough around the edges, the action kept me coming back for more, and the feeling of being double-hard only added to my enjoyment of the game. Though let down with a fairly weak story and occasionally dodgy controls, this might be worth a look if you're looking for a heavily-stylised shooter which doesn't take itself so seriously. Think Devil May Cry crossed with Prince of Persia, Tarantino movies and the Matrix and you're half-way there.

The bottom line
7.0 / 10

Good stuff

  • Cool grindhouse feel
  • Nice acrobatic, dual-wielding action
  • Rocking soundtrack

Not so good stuff

  • Dodgy control scheme
  • Rough graphics
  • Bad lip syncing


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