Meet Rubi. She’s a drop dead gorgeous femme fatale and is looking to take the title of the most hardcore female gaming character since, well, ever. And you can hop onboard this magic carpet ride of violence in Artificial Mind & Movement's WET. What is arguably the most violent game of the spring; WET has you traverse three continents in search for sweet vengeance from the sharp side of your intimidating wielded samurai sword. Toppled with Quentin Tarrantino-esque style and love for the 70's, WET is a sure fire gem, but can its tough-as-nails protagonist and overboard dose of pure adrenalin make this game more than a fan service for all the Grind-House fans?
As previously hinted, WET see's you play as Rubi, a hard hitting American with a love for a blade and a pair of unstoppable revolvers. Rubi is a mercenary otherwise known as a 'Gun for Hire', and after a high paying mission gone wrong, she's got an army, actually, make it two armies of drug dealing gangsters on her tail as she fights her way to the truth one Mafioso at a time. While that may seem like a pretty solid story line, it really is tiring to see the amount of games, movies; television shows etc that all seem to have the same idea for a story as this. What happened to the good old' days where stories were unique and everyone was just boiling over with creativity? Well, wherever those days have gone, they have taken their toll on the gaming industry's story writers.
Who haven't had their creativity drained though are the creative directors over at A2M studios, as WET is just jam-packed with style and has more special features than a special edition DVD. These additions are not only very interesting, but are what made the game so damn special. From the first level, right to the end, the action in WET never stops and what makes the action so tantalizing is the 70's style grain film look WET has and the mind boggling soundtrack that plays at every corner of the game. The game has a very good feel to it and controls very smoothly, considering the amount of different ways there are in which to dispose of your foes, from sword slicing ground slides to groin exploding long shots. WET has a very easy 'pick-up-and-play' style and anyone can learn the controls and begin mastering the way of the samurai before the first tutorial type mission is over. To feed the feel of a 70's action flick, WET also shows short but amusing advertisements at times of loading between the most intense action scenes like the classic candy bar ad you would see at a drive in, or the ad for the new pest exterminator in town, all of which seem very appropriate to the time period.
Any of you who are familiar with the aforementioned Quentin Tarrantino will no doubt be running comparisons between his film work and this video game for pretty much the entire campaign, but that's not a bad thing, as his signature 'Grindhouse' style is a very unique thing, which has very rarely been touched in the gaming world, especially in recent times, save for Stranglehold in 2007 by none other than John woo himself. A2M couldn't deny not being influenced by his movies, Kill Bill in particular, as both feature femme fatales with samurai swords looking for revenge and answers.
As far as third person action games go, WET is up there with the best. The way it flows together gunplay and swordplay into violent combos is great and although a tad over the top, WET's action is as pure and fun as it is violent. Add in some crazy acrobatic moves reminiscent of another famous game girl, namely Lara Croft from Tomb Raider fame, and you have yourself some crazy battles and epic set pieces. Speaking of set pieces, during most of the games varying missions, the player will be forced to fight it out in so called 'Arenas', where a particular room or street block will be flooded with enemies through these gateway doors which must be closed by the player as they fight off the enemies while trying to stay alive, which is made easier due to the set out of all the high flying poles and wires and perfectly placed ramps and jumps just aching to be used as acrobatic lift offs as you line up those perfect shots and blast away. These arenas are timed and you are given a score at the end of each judging your time, acrobatics kills and highest multiplayer. Its the little parts like this, and the few highway chase missions that make WET’s campaign very enjoyable and vary a lot of the missions. Oh, and what is perhaps one of the years best gaming moments, when Rubi gets a face full of blood and is sent into an maniacal rage mode where no enemy stands a chance and everyone has something to answer for.
Despite all these great ideas, WET has its fair share of problems. Mainly, the large amount of graphical glitches as Rubi dives and jumps her way around. They have you stuck in corners, incapable of shooting or moving, stuck in the air with your head in a wall and many other, although sometimes hilarious, very antagonizing scenarios that usually result in death and a retry. A simple patch could fix many of these bugs, but until then, prepare you for some frustrating moments of a glitching Rubi.
To help with the increasing difficulty of the games enemies and arenas, Rubi can be upgraded quite a few ways to better help you take on the odds. The greater your combat multiplayer and more stylish your kills, the more points you will earn, and the more points you earn, well, the more you have to spend on upgrading your skills. You can choose to upgrade Rubi's acrobatic and killing abilities with mid-air sword slashes and the like or upgrade her tiny arsenal of weapons with larger ammo supplies, damage upgrades or firerate. While these upgrades are all well and good, it doesn't take thought away from the fact that Rubi's available arsenal really is- as described as before; tiny. Rubi only has access to 4 of your average firearms plus her sword, and while the sword is an always enjoyable way of killing, having such a small amount of weapons really makes the game feel lacking.
WET may not be the longest game in the collection, in fact, its relatively short, which is a shame considering there is no Multiplayer to speak of, but it has a lot of content and style, like its take on slow motion action as it happens whenever Rubi starts to shoot during a dive or a roll and even a pole swinging fiasco, too much in fact to detail into one review.
While there are a few great games out there that excel in both gameplay and graphics, WET isn't one of them. Despite is having a great campaign mode, albeit a less than excellent story the game really, really falls short in graphics. Yes, the film grain style is done on purpose, and to the untrained eye, it covers up most of the horrible graphics and character modelling, but WET truly looks like a last Gen action game.
The only part of the graphics department where WET doesn't fall short is its animation. From the cut scene animation to the quick time events and surprisingly even the gameplay, what with all the crazy jumps and flips Rubi is capable of, the animation is next to perfect. The way she swings her sword, walks, talks, flips and slides all look real and amazing. Combine these animations with some great camera direction and you have yourself some great direction. Now only if the models were done as great as the rest of it.
WET is a game that has more music playing during the campaign than not. With a very large list of famed rockabilly and western style performers, the soundtrack fits absolutely perfectly in with the games action and 70's film style. Every room has its own feel and theme music, every arena its own tempo set for the action, every chase a daring tune to coexist with it and the list can go on and on. You will never hear the same tune repeated twice, unless of course you manage to fail a particular area or section.
To add to the great directional talents as mentioned in the Graphics section, WET also has a cast of A-List Hollywood stars, including the young and beautiful Eliza Dushku as the one and only Rubi and the always creepy Malcolm McDowell as Rubi's public enemy number one, Mr. Ackers.
The soundtrack in WET and the way it’s played and handed out is perhaps the greatest thing about the game, and has to be heard to be believed. Yes, lots of games feature impressive soundtracks, but no game has ever come as close, except perhaps the Guitar/RockBand games; as WET has with its soundtrack and the way it reflects the games visual styles and themes. WET has a masterpiece of a soundtrack, and will certainly be remembered for it.
The value of a game like WET really does come down to how much the individual gamer likes the game. It doesn't have any multiplayer, not too much replay value and a linear of a story line, not to mention pretty dated graphics, but it has some great action gameplay, a masterful soundtrack and one of a kind visual and play style and themes. Are you a fan of the 70's era action films and over the top shooting? Then this is the game for you. If not, you may want to look elsewhere for your fix. Never has a game appealed so much to the diehard fans of Tarrantino's unique style. If he ever made a game, this is it.
The conclusion really is double sided. There are a lot of down points about this game; it has no multiplayer, which could have had potential for unique gameplay, it has quite a few bugs during the campaign, which isn't very long itself and doesn't give much replay value. The storyline is overdone and underworked, making it quite boring. But the game has such grand action that even when bored of the story, you wont want to put the control down. You'll power through the levels and love every second of it, from the run and gun action of the smaller hallway based levels to the epic highway fights that have you jumping from car to car as they speed along the road.
And aside from the solid gameplay, WET has an amazing soundtrack, and one of the greatest styles ever seen in a video game, not to mention top notch voice acting and a pretty decent script with no sign of dodgy one liners to be seen. The games style is what really makes it worth its while, but Tarrantino fan or not, chances are you will love this game while it lasts. But for how long does it last is the real question. The only answer to that depends on how much you can stand replaying the same campaign over and over.
AAG Score: 7/10
+ Action is intuitive and fun
+ Levels are varying and entertaining
+ Rubi is a great character
+ The 70's film/Tarrantino style
+ Amazing soundtrack fits with style
- Quite short and not very re-playable
- Lots of bugs and glitches
- Boring and usual storyline
- No multiplayer
Reviewed and Written By John Elliott