Wet Review

Wet (Available on PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Action
Publisher: Bethesda
Developer: A2M
Release Date: September 15th, 2009

Ever wanted to play Stranglehold mixed with spaghetti western and heavy Kill Bill influences? If so, you’re about to read details regarding such a game. Bethesda’s latest is a brew of several different genres, though its most obvious inspiration is that of John Woo’s Stranglehold released several years back. Wet has you play as Rubi, a wicked ninja assassin for hire. Utilizing highly acrobatic manoeuvres and bullet-time effects, you angrily take out thousands of unsuspecting enemies. Oh, and somewhere in here is a story about betrayal and redemption, but who really cares about that when you can use slow motion!

What I was just alluring to is that the story is clearly a placeholder. It’s entertaining and the cutscenes are well-paced, but obviously nothing more than Rubi’s motivation to go all karate crazy on everyone she encounters. There’s not a single serious bone in its body, thoguh Bethesda did a bang-up job with the presentation. Famous people, like Malcolm McDowell, lent their voices to the game. This injects more authenticity into the story.

Given Rubi’s agility, it can be daunting to master every attack she possesses. Nonetheless, Bethesda really nailed player progression. You’re eased into the heroine’s basic skills early on, and provided a tutorial upon unlocking anything more advanced, weapons included. At first this sounds off-putting, but it all makes sense when afterwards when Rubi is surrounded by a dozen enemies.

Skill-wise, Rubi can briefly wall-run, zip down electrical lines, swing across poles and more at the onset. Though her bullet-time ability probably trumps anything else. Every time she jumps and fires her guns, time slows down. Do it again right after, and time auto-slows once more. There are also no meter limitations to the system, which makes fighting highly enjoyable and entertaining to watch. Rubi can even invoke more than one slow-mo skill at once. For example, Rubi might jump into battle to simultaneously eliminate several enemies, then land into a slide, continue taking out foes, only to run alongside a wall to end off this combo. It not only looks wicked in action, but it’s also extremely easy to execute. Talk about a one-two punch!

Over time, Rubi earns special points which can redeem new abilities. At first, she can’t wall-run and shoot at the same time. Unlock said ability, and our protagonist becomes even more deadly. A real thrill is jumping into a fight, slowing time, and using the right stick to fire Rubi’s second gun at someone, while her other is auto-firing at another. This is an extremely intuitive system. When players have completed all twelve chapters, Rubi turns into a one-woman army capable of taking on even the most daunting foe. Since battle is the name of the game, the majority of the environments are highly interactive. Effective use of each area is critical to increasing your combo meter, which in turn results in more points. It’s also very important to mix and match weapons. This is easily done by using the d-pad to switch between weapons like the hand-gun, shotgun, and automatic machine guns. Using the environment, switching weapons and maxing out combos will net Rubi some incredibly useful points.

Kicking butt isn’t all Rubi does however. She also has to find her targets. Initially this is straightforward. Players take Rubi and head towards the enemy. Later, things change. You eventually have to run up walls, shimmy across huge chasms and jump across seemingly impossible distances. Typically it’s all easily done thanks to Rubi’s ninja vision, which highlights interactive objects. Though similar to fighting, it’s not always convenient to distinguish the necessary path. This amounts to a lot of trial and error, especially later in the game. It’s not crazy to think you can reach a distant ledge, as you may have a few seconds prior, but the game has a different plan. Instead you have to circle back a short distance and try a smaller jump. At least this doesn’t happen often, despite such instances being frustrating.

While on the subject, it doesn’t take long for another aspect of the game to start to annoy. Most of the game is comprised of mini arena-type areas. Rubi either has to travel to a location, fighting tons of enemies along the way, or she from one large section to another, destroying a pre-determined number of “locks.” These look like red glowing crossbones, and are your ticket to stop enemy spawning. If enough time passes, it’s likely that you’ll be spammed by hostiles. It wouldn’t be so bad if the camera was more cooperative for searching and fighting at the same time. I often ended up jumping around all over the place in slow-mo, finding the locks by accident. All things considered, these are the game’s most bothersome experience.

Thankfully, Wet’s variety counters that. Some missions have you pursue someone on a highway, jumping from one car to the next, Matrix-style. It not only looks bad-ass, but it plays well too. Another mission has you free-falling after a plane explosion, with the subsequent objective of dodging debris along the way. Other times Rubi takes charge of a mini-gun for a hopefully obvious reason. Though the biggest delight has to be when Rubi loses her temper. Rage Mode, as it’s called, bathes the screen in red and highlights foes in black and white, reminiscent of MadWorld. Hence why it’s disappointing that these sequences happen so infrequently, not to mention they’re scripted, so you have no control over them.

All of these elements, on top of other unlockables available upon finishing make Wet a fun, but somewhat wishy-washy action splatter house. The best features are accentuated during the rage mode, acrobatic scenes and heavy battles. Unfortunately, the worst stick out with the rest of the game. Exploration isn’t as tight as it should be, the repetition quickly becomes a headache and the story is mostly forgettable. Had A2M, the developer, focused more on the better aspects,Wet could have been one of the surprise hits of the year.

Otherwise, Wet certainly enjoys a unique style. It feels like an old spaghetti western, complete with burnt film emphasizing your death. A purposeful, distinctive grain filter covers the gamep. It can be turned off, but that’s not recommended since it would bring out the more obvious visual blemishes. Animations are also smooth, at least for Rubi, though the rest of the cast suffers somewhat. Character models are mostly clunky and uninspired. The environments can be plain, while others, like the bar level, look downright awesome. Other open areas are extremely impressive. This inconsistency also applies to the interactivity, which varies in scale depending on the environment. This mish mash hinders an otherwise nice-looking title.

Thankfully, the audio literally rocks the presentation. Heavy fighting scenes are complemented by great rock riffs that pay homage to Shoot ‘em Up. It’s impossible not to like taking on dozens of foes because of the adrenaline-pumped soundtrack. The voice acting employs some big names as mentioned before, but the remaining characters sound a bit bored with repeated one-liners. But any audio pitfalls are overshadowed by the ridiculous soundtrack. There’s nothing like being in Rage Mode and hearing some Kill Bill-inspired tunes play out. That’s when you feel like the ultimate bad-ass.

Wet is a bloody action game held back by a fair share of problems. If you enjoyed John Woo’s Stranglehold, then this could be for you. It’s more inspired and far quicker paced. Unfortunately the many nuisances hamper Wet in competing with big action games like Ninja Gaiden and God of War. If you’re the forgiving type however, then prepare for one rocking wild time.

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