52 Weeks of Canadian Gaming - Week 38
Release Date: September 15, 2009
ESRB Rating: Mature
Reviewed by: Brian Wray
Every now and then, I love to watch an old 70s exploitation film. This sub-genre of film history was all about the glorification of violence. These generally low budget movies featured only a thread of a storyline, just enough to validate the need for all the violence. More recently, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have been credited with reviving interest in the genre by paying homage to these files in movies such as Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction. While there are plenty of ultra violent games with nothing more than a thread of a story line, they do not feel like those old 70s exploitation films. That was till WET arrived.
WET is an ultra violent third person shooter. Rubi Malone, the game’s female protagonist, has been wronged and she plans on making it right. Not much of a story. That is not to say this is a negative as in the tradition of exploitation movies this actually makes perfect sense. While the story is quite thin, the plot itself appears well fleshed out with plenty of events and a few surprises along the way as well.
The audio in the game is a joy. The game does boast some excellent voice-talents with Eliza Dushku as Rubi Malone and Malcom McDowell as Rupert Pellum/Mr. Ackers. The music used in the game is also very 70s in feel, but still quite fresh and new. My only complaint came with the sound effects. Most were OK, but appeared to lack any real substance to them. A room filled with a roaring fire is very noise, but in the game it sounded hollow. The highway scenes suffer from the same problem. With cars crashing left and right, I would expect screeching tires, breaking glass and honking horns. Still the audio in the game is far more often a delight than it is an annoyance and never distracting. Shame I could not say the same for the graphics.
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I cannot say that the graphics in the game are entirely bad. WET does features some very nice looking models, it’s just the texture are all very bland. By default the game starts off with a cool film grain effect to mimic old movie reels. After the first level, I removed this effect as the coolness had worn off and it was now becoming a distraction. The level design for WET is well made, but very linear. With WET, I prefer to speak of style as the game oozes with it. From the camera angles, to the dialog, the interior designs and character wardrobes everything feels like the it came out of an Roger Corman film.
The game controls are an odd mix.Trying to move Rubi in a normal fashion was a little difficult. Rubi just does not like walking in a straight line. This made the platforming portion of the game a bit frustrating. On the other hand getting Rubi to perform acrobatic moves was quite easy. This is a good thing as players will be spending a great deal of time performing various acrobatic moves in WET. Gamers need to understand one important truth about WET; to fully enjoy this game, they must accept that Rubi is unable to shoot anything while fully stationary, but she is an ace shot while performing some type of acrobatic move. Do not bother arguing that does not make any sense; just accept that simple fact and the game will become fun to play. Trust me on this one.
As indicated previously, Rubi is not very effective when running around shooting her guns unless she is in “Rubi mode”. When in “Rubi mode”, time slows down allowing Rubi the ability to evade most bullets, target two enemies at once (one automatically and the other manually by the gamer) and to pull the trigger at an accelerated rate of fire. To trigger “Rubi mode”, Rubi needs only perform a special acrobatic move such as a back-flip, a sliding attack, a wall-run, shooting while sliding upside down a ladder etc. As Rubi kill count rises, so will her multiplier. This multiplier is extremely important as it will supply Rubi with a health boost (she gets high on killing) and more importantly kills points that can be used to upgrade her weapons and acrobatic skills.
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To deliver her brand of justice, Rubi has use of several weapons. Her go to weapon of choice are her handguns. These handguns have the benefit of unlimited ammunition, which comes in hand when in “Rubi mode” in which Rubi can chew through. Having a quick trigger is not always enough in this game, as players will also need quick reflexes, or at lest some reflexes. The game does have a few "Quick Timed Events" in which the players must match on onscreen button to allow Rubi to perform some type of special move. I normally hate QTEs, but in WET these should be called simple Timed Events as the quick part is not fully required. Games such as God of War provides the player with about a second reaction time while WET a generous amount of time (close to five seconds) to match the sequence, one that does not change when a slip up is performed.
The game features several difficulty level including the very punishing Femme Fatale and Golden Bullet. These two difficulty levels are only for the truly skilled players as enemies will be much more aggressive and perform more damage. In Golden Bullet, all enemies are downed with a single bullet, but Rubi is also much more vulnerable to enemy fire. These advanced difficulty levels are only unlocked by finishing the game at a lower level of difficulty first.
A major downside to the game is that it is quite short. Once the game has been completed, there is little incentive to go back and play it again, other than the usual list of achievements to be unlocked. That is not to say that there is nothing to do. Once the game has been completed, it will unlock Rubi’s junkyard which is filled with various challenges (time trials) to complete. Another option is to replay past levels to complete a “points” challenge. Time to rank up that kill meter. All these "extras” will do little to keep gamers from trading in the game while the value is still high.
WET may soon be forgotten in the barrage of holiday games being released, but Rubi Malone is a great and interesting character that I am sure we have not seen the last of.