September 23, 2009

WET | Review

Shawn Lebert Says What would happen if House of the Dead: Overkill and Stranglehold had a child? They would give birth to WET. This over-the-top video game ride is complete with a very familiar grind-house effect and doesn’t slow down a single frame without inspirational exploitative films to back it up; either that or it wishes to wear Quentin Tarantino’s socks. After you get past the grind-house effects and the exploitation, all of the excitement comes to a halt. The ideas behind this game might have sounded good on paper, but the end result drastically suffers from lack of originality.

Max Payne developed the standard for beautiful bullet time. God of War dominated with epic quick time events. Slow motion has been around for ages. WET packs all of these elements into one gaming gift and the gamer is left with a present they will eventually want to take back to Walmart and swap out for a nice, expensive looking lamp.

WET stars Rubi Malone, a dark-haired part-time beauty and full-time mercenary. She struts with an arsenal of weapons, and she isn’t afraid to give the lethal dose to anyone that happens to be in her way. She’s immediately sent in to retrieve a package containing a heart and stumbles into the meeting between two dealers, who inevitably end up in a shootout. Cue Rubi Malone, diving and crashing from above, to make her surprise appearance. One of the men gets away with the heart and now the journey begins to retrieve it.

As a hired mercenary, she’ll see a few nice locations on her trips around the world including London. The heart she is after is surgically transplanted into the not-so-nice bad guy, who inevitably wants her dead after backstabbing her. Such gratitude, huh? Of course, Rubi wants him dead as well; actually, she wants everyone dead and comes back with a vengeance on all. The problem with the story and the characters is that nothing develops, there are no plot twists, and the whole thing is entirely predictable; the characters who surround Rubi are nothing but scum that’ll eventually reside on the heel of her boot.

This third person action game controls like Max Payne but worse. The actions are limited, and one will only see three major useful tricks: sliding on the ground, running against walls, and jumping through the air that kicks in a slow motion effect, which allows the player to zone in on multiple enemies at one time. One of the positives to this, is that no matter what, Rubi automatically locks on to an enemy with the option for the gamer to manually fire at another foe. This allows Rubi to shoot at two different enemies at a single time. Of course, along the way, there are variations to these useful tricks at Rubi’s disposal but only when they are upgraded.

To upgrade, one must be clever in creatively disposing her enemies seamlessly, which adds on to the points collected throughout the level. The longer the combo – the longer Rubi can build up a constant body count – the meter raises in double, thrice, quadruple or even five times the points for every death. So kill wisely. The points are used to upgrade her abilities or guns. This way, it’ll freshen up some moves and tactics and attempt to make the game a little more fun.

Even with the thrill and excitement that was for Max Payne, the player at least had a slow-motion gauge to ponder the best suit of action and when to use it. In WET, however, the power of slow-motion is always at the player’s fingertips, making the game easy from start to finish.

The game supports locating “medication” to heal back up. They took a few tips from games like Prince of Persia and Max Payne yet again to heal the pain. Much like the Prince, who leans down to drink water to replenish him, Rubi Malone finds whiskey along the way where she drinks to ignore the pain.

WET has many quick time events that just aren’t exciting. Games like God of War and Resident Evil 4 thrived with quick time events because when played, they were intense and involving. In contrast, in WET, it’s stiff and unmotivated. There’s a freeway scene in the game heavily inspired by the looks of The Matrix Reloaded and has Rubi jumping from car to car as they topple and crash in slow-motion. By pressing the correct buttons, she can dive away from injury. However, what’s the fun in constantly pressing the same button and occasionally a different one for attack? It’s boring.

There’s a surprising twist in game-play as in given areas, Rubi becomes furious when an enemy’s blood sprays over her pretty face, leaving her disgruntled and Hulk-like. The art direction takes a step into creativity here with the limited palette of red, black, and whites throughout. It’s just a means to see how many enemies you can kill to keep your chain up. However, unfortunately, it feels as though it is tacked-on only to show the crazed side of Rubi’s deep, sensitive personality in a hyper-emotional dimension. Stay away from this woman when she’s on her period.

The graphics do not look like this year’s standards. In fact, they step back a few years. It’s mysterious because this game doesn’t pack enough punch in such an over-the-top game when it matters. It’s saddening when graphics would have perhaps propelled this game even more because it deserved a detailed beauty to all the mayhem on screen; therefore, making it more enticing to pick up. As an end result, it suffers in mediocrity and major clipping issues in cut-scenes with the actual camera position choice on character models.

As many bullets as WET delivers, it’s quite disappointing that there aren’t any destructible environments, but a few crates here and there. Oh, boy, crates.

Throughout the game, and between locations within a level, there are weird transitions into old advertisements with the 1970s appeal for products dealing with snacks or investing time to visit your local church for Sunday services. It makes sense in context, but they also don’t make sense with this game’s transitions and seem pointless, and worse, boring. If it was in there for a light chuckle, it wasn’t amusing; but more to mashing the buttons in hoping the loading time is over soon.

Overall, the grind-house effect was too much. The developers even decided to add a layer of film tearing over the actual game, which is set by default. What it does is causes the screen to jump here and there, making it appear like an old projector is showing the game-play. Luckily, there was an option to turn it off. This reviewer turned it off two minutes into the game. Perhaps the developers added the film tearing to hide the graphical blemishes?

While it may sound like a good thing that this game came from elements with House of the Dead: Overkill and Stranglehold, as its lovechild, but ended up being a seriously deformed Frankenstein of a life. You’ll want to pass on this one.