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Saturday, October 10, 2009

WET - Review

I actually ordered this much earlier, it's just that both college and DFO have been taking up a bit more time than I expected. So it took much longer than it should have to beat this game.

Wet is a third person alternative shooter developed by Bethesda Softworks, responsible for some pretty recent titles such as Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and Fallout 3. They've also had a hand in Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth which is a first person shooter based on the HP Lovecraft novels.

Wet is about a gun for hire named Rubi Malone who is famous for her acrobatic gunplay which resulted in people likening her to a monkey.

Wet was more of less everything I expected it to be. It's a stylish third person shooter where you (and mostly a set of dual pistols) take on everything. (sigh) Because Rubi is badass and tough as a brick and people who are badass and tough as a brick don't care about anything....
The gameplay in the game is pretty solid. While the flow of it is pretty much the same throughout the game, it mostly involves firing two guns while jumping through the air, firing two guns while sliding on the ground and seemingly not wreaking your jeans, or using a sword to remove people from the game. Of course, Rubi also has some skills that allow her to move from point A to point B more efficiently, while firing two guns. She can wall run, hang onto cliffs and then run along it, slide down ladders hanging by her feet, run up and jump off of enemies, use enemies as launching platforms and enter a state of pure "pissed-offedness...." to wreak havoc. (I don't see how the last one relates of movement.)

The flow the game seems to generally follow a pretty structurized level design. There's a small gunfight that usually doesn't mean much and is just there to make sure the trek from point A to point B isn't too boring, then there's some form of arena fight. Rinse and repeat and add a few action scenes that involve a lot of quick-time event usage.

You get four weapons, all of which have their purposes and add more fun to the game. Unlike Wanted, where you're stuck with two weapons, which basically do the same thing, while the the enemy has a variety, you have about the same amount of weapons the enemy has. I think the only thing you're really missing is an assault rifle, and instead of that you get twin bowguns that fire explosive bolts. Good trade. They all have somewhat specific uses but after a while, that seems to matter less as it almost feels like ammo is attempting to tripwire you everywhere. Simply break open a box and you have about 1/4 of your total ammo.

The action packed quicktime event scenes are honestly the highlight of the game for me. The very first time I encountered this, I basically wet my pants. Rubi Malone is basically trying to hunt down a guy who stole her package and through a series of events, you find her on top of a car, driving along a bridge. In the meantime, there are other cars with enemies trying to kill you. You take control of Rubi and every so often she has to jump from car to car or pull off some flashy stunts to avoid getting roadkilled. So it's a combination of a rail shooter style gameplay combined with quick time events that appear frequently.

Speaking of which. I think that the quick time events handled in this game are probably the best I've seen. The quicktime command is pretty intuitive as the buttons aren't randomized and they generally correspond to basic controls. For example, let's say the car Rubi is on is about to crash into another car. The game goes into slow motion, and X (the button to jump) appears. She jumps and wall runs a truck, vaults over and jumps to another car with a guy sticking out of the window. As she's in mid-air, time slows down again to display the square button (the button for sword attacks). Once the event clears, she slashes the guy in midair and lands on the car.
In addition, I feel that the game gives players pretty ample time (about 1-2 seconds) to press the command. There are times that I simply fumble because I wasn't expecting it but it's not that big of a deal. In addition, the cut-scenes that include quick-time events are pretty well done. After a quick-tiome event is cleared the camera usually stays in the same "shot" so the transition looks very smooth. It also doesn't transition the moment you press the button so when you clear an event, a green circle appears around the button you have to press and the event continues on until the timer runs out. Because of that cutscenes aren't really choppy, the main problem I had with Resident Evil 4.

Music rocks. Enough said. Dialogue is pretty solid and the voice acting is really nice. Eliza Dushku voice fills Rubi with life.

The loading screens are actually kind of creative. I didn't realize until about halfway through the game that they were loading screens. Excluding the main loading screen chapters where there's just a single shot and a small loading animation at the bottom, in chapter loading screens consist of 70s movie theater commercials and small shots of what Rubi does when she's waiting in an elevator. It was humorous and entertaining so I didn't think much of it, but when I considered that at one point, the animation was looping and that they were placed in key areas involving doors, I realized it was a loading screen. Pretty clever.

Of course, there are issues with the game. One such issue would probably be the obscene precision required to move from place to place (feels reminiscent of Tomb Raider...). Rubi generally has a set running speed. It doesn't feel fast but when she jumps it's much further than expected. So what usually happens is that either you jump too early and fall to your death, or you screw up a simple combination of movement tricks which also features you falling to your death (wall running, jumping off, and then hanging onto a cliff). Other times the frustration of missing a simple chain in a link of moves during an arena fight warrants a save load. (Jumping off a ramp, killing two guys before swinging on a pole.... only to miss the pole and land on the ground where your combo has now been trashed). Because this game is so combo/chain-time sensitive, it's as if the developers were expecting you to know how to pull off everything you do at the start.... which is ridiculous.

I recieved a "poor" ranking in the first major fight that involved spawn points because I didn't utilize all the acrobatic tricks properly which would also help my time as the acrobatic elements help you reach the areas that contain the targets which you need to cut to kill the spawn point. COME ON.

Another issue would be how rigid the gameplay is. You hardly see any enemies when you're moving from one "arena" to another. While the gameplay is linear, and there's nothing wrong with that, having too rigid gameplay only emphasizes how linear the game is. In addition, I want some practice during the transition from point A to point B. It's somewhat annoying that I can't try out certain moves unless there's a target I can test on (i.e. flipping off enemies, or going for a super fast slash from a wall) and the game doesn't accommodate me with such a chance other than in an area that's grading you for your performance. It's as if you just learned how to drive and know the fundamentals of driving, but the only time you can drive is when you're taking a test. Unless your ability to adapt is that of god, OF COURSE YOU'RE GOING TO SCREW UP.

Another thing I was unhappy about was that there wasn't a "new game +" after you beat the game. Meaning after you complete the first runthrough of the game, you can't start a new game without removing the upgrade data from the old character... which is annoying because I'm pretty sure a bunch of the extra mini-stages that you unlock after, use the story mode clear data. You also don't get multiple save files, and there's no chapter select screen. I guess, if you count the Point attack mode (how many points can you score in a particular screen), that would count as "chapter select" but I would prefer something a little less competitive.

Some of the characters have VERY short appearances despite their importance to the storyline. Other characters aren't explained properly which almost makes you feel as if you're missing something or skipped a scene or entire game. The storyline, while fairly thought out is missing key plot points and explanations. As a result, what would have been a classic, yet overdone, story is filled with holes and information leaks that aren't necessary. They degrade the feel of the game overall and to top if off, it seems as if they left it as a cliffhanger for a second game...

Overall, Wet has that kind of Kill Bill feel to it, except that instead of a sword, Rubi is more about guns. The music sets the game's tone really well and I think because of it, I like the game a lot. There are a handful of game flaws in terms of technicalities, but in terms of flow, it plays really well. It's shorter than expected but it's nice. It's much better than the Strangerhood and being able to shoot two people at once, and seeing how well she changes the direction of the guns is pretty awesome.

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