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Friday, April 10, 2009

Wanted: Weapons of Fate - Review

I went into this game very wary. The last game having the Warner Bros. logo on it was Enter the Matrix if I recall correctly. Honestly, I didn't find it a fun game. It's dependency on focus really bugged me, but that's not the point. The point is Wanted.

Because it's the PC version you can safely assume most cutscenes are pre-rendered in some really cheap codec. I'll deal with it. There's a lot of good with this game and a lot of bad.

To start us off, it's good in that it's simple. The gameplay itself is easy to learn and with a minimal amount of keys required, (probably because it's just a console port) the learning curve is pretty gentle. It's pretty easy to pick up and play and there's a nice interactive tutorial that will help you learn how to play. Whether or not you use all the skills they teach you is completely your call but there are some nice aspects to the game. The game's story takes place after the movie and assumes you've watched/own and have written an analytical essay on Wanted. They won't explain much and just start right off.

The gameplay follows a pretty linear path. You go from area to area using cover, or maneuvering between cover and shoot. As you progress you'll gain adrenaline markers which will allow you to use special skills. One of which is bullet curving. Bullet curving is an essential part of the game and you get it pretty early on. You can curve the path of the bullet which results in you being able to kill enemies behind cover. It's a recyclable system in that if you kill someone with a bullet curve, you get the adrenaline marker back.

Their cover system works decently well. It's a bit sketchy at points but moving from cover to cover is relatively easy and effective in closing the distance between you and distant enemies.

There's also the occasional moment when everything goes into bullet time and you're thrown into a series of quicktime events where you have to deflect enemy bullets and kill the guy within a time limit. The time limit is pretty lenient so there isn't any particular rush in killing them instantly. I'm assuming this is for players using joysticks to aim.

For the good parts, there are also bad parts.
First off, the game is short. When I mean short I don't mean like... Call of Duty 4 short, I mean Portal short. On my first playthrough I beat the game in 3 hours, and then on the second playthrough, I beat the game in two hours on the hardest difficulty. There's hardly any replay value to it and it isn't as if playing the same story as a different character will change it up in any way.

The game is TOO simple. You only have one weapon for most of the game and then two by the end. The enemy goes through SMGS, Rifles, and shotguns and you're stuck with pistols and machine pistols. Speaking of which, apparently enemies all drop the ammo that you're looking for. If you kill a guy with a shotgun, you can pick up ammo for your pistol. If you kill a guy with a rifle and he drops ammo, it's for your pistol. It seems that everyone drops ammo and there are parts in the game where there's entire clips of ammo for you meaning that you basically stumble over ammo and it'll hardly be a rarity for you to have less than max for over three minutes.

I guess what they're trying to do is tell you that you can be very liberal with your ammo but it's kind of hard being liberal when most enemies die from 1-4 shots and you pick up 7-20 from each guy. Bullet curved headshots are one hit kills as well. What I'm saying is, the game is too easy. It's terribly easy. Even Xbox fiends who whine and complain over Live will say it's easy. YOUR MOM will say it's easy.

When I beat the game on the hardest difficulty they showed a scoreboard of the times of the people in the production team who played and beat it. Last place was like... beta tester at 4:00 and first was GP Producer (I'm assuming gameplay producter) at 1:13.

There are certain parts of the game design that I'm really not fond of. In particular, hits don't tend to register unless the crosshair turns red. So, if a guys body happens to be sticking out of a corner, you cant' do anything about it. Because they're "fully" in cover, regardless of how much they're exposed, you can't kill them. There's the occasional chance that they're "peeking" like you are when you press any direction while under cover and at that point they are killable, but generally the targeting system is sub-par.

Graphics are meh. This has been an issue with Enter The Matrix for me as well. They seem to hire teams that don't really do a thorough job in my opinion resulting in a moderately decent game. The pre-rendered cut scenes look lackluster. The environment looked pretty nice and there were some nice bloom effects. A few times blooming and lighting screwed up how I play. Occasionally, you had to shoot someone on a higher direct "sunlight." This, I believe is just poor game play and level design. Actually, graphics are pretty bad. They utilize new generation techniques but their modeling and textures just downgrade the quality of the visual aspect. That and the fact that it seems most of the focus is on slow motion and rending the flying bullets. The cinematic cut scene when the camera trails the bullet is probably the highlight of the game.

The music is astoundingly repetitive. Honestly, I feel like there's at most.... 6 music tracks throughout the game? If there are more, that only proves my point. Some of them are just handfuls of variations on the song "The Little Things" by Danny Elfman, others sound like they've been in 007 games.

This game, at best, is a rental. I highly urge you guys not to buy it. Honestly, this is really no different than the other "movie games." The premise is simply different and so it "looks" as such but once you peel away the layers, you'll realize that buying this game is like buying Transformers: The Movie game. Also, considering the brevity of the game, it's not worth the $40ish US dollars. Even Portal is smaller than that. Rather, Portal first came with the Orange box and then was sold separately due to it's popularity. That's the only way it could even sell alone.

This game has great potential. If they just spent more time fine tuning graphics, and letting you pick up more weapons, it could definitely be a great game. Sure, it could be a run & gun but to bullet curve a stream of rifle bullets? Don't tell me that doesn't sound like a great idea.

As a final thought, I thought the bullet curving concept was awesome, and it's really fun in gameplay. The main issue is, the only reason you can bullet curve is because the AI's aim is so bad that Helen Keller could do a better job. The spray and pray is just for show and they're really just giving you the ok to stand in the open getting a nice trajectory for a bullet curve.

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