Tarantino, Tarantino, Tarantino, Tarantino, Tarantino, Tarantino, Tarantino, Tarantino…(This is all the review is going to contain)…
Tarantino, Tarantino, Tarantino, Tarantino Tarantino, Tarantino, Tarantino, Tarantino…
Okay, I’ll stop now.
With crossovers a-plenty and a borderline obscene amount of movie tie-ins is it any wonder that contemporary games are trying their utmost to be more captivating and engaging by utilising filmic methods and techniques? WET, however, seems to take this about three steps further by seemingly attempting to be a film, trying to be a game, trying to be a film.
It’s not based on a film (though there are veiled allusions to certain genres – homages if you will) but one could easily mistake the notion that it does relate to some kind of cinematic counterpart. You can even imagine a Guy Ricthie style trailer for it. Maybe that’s just the fault of the gaming industry for releasing so many tie-ins that it’s just automatic to think that way.
WET (or at least the demo anyway) smacks of 1970′s nostalgia with a grainy filter to give it that crackly, worn look that accompanies old films, complete with an equally retro soundtrack that has caused many afros over the years.
Rubi: "Fuck you Uma Thurman!"
The protagonist, Rubi, is what you expect a female game character to be like in a culture ruled by patriarchal values. So no doubt words like “sassy”, “independent”, “Lara Croft” and “bad ass” are currently working their way through your grey matter right now. Although having said that, the term “bad ass” generally applies to both genders.
The Lone Ranger-style hero has been a staple of third and first-person games for years so Rubi’s individual stance as a trigger-happy, sword-carrying, wall-jumping assassin-for-hire doesn’t really come as a surprise. As a character who begins her mornings by running up walls and shooting drug barons in the face before she sits down to her Shredded Wheat it just seems to be the norm to have her “bad ass”.
I mean, even Gordon Freeman (of Half-Life fame) developed an uncanny ability to fire military and alien weapons despite his background as a mere scientist.
Rubi seems to encompass a sort of melding of Eastern and Western styles of violence and action. Her two pistols, which she keeps in holsters on each side of her hip, is an obvious reference to the Old West era of cowboys and sheriffs and what-have-you (with a particular nod towards spaghetti Westerns films). While her Japanese sword (and equally oriental tattoos on her arm) represents more Eastern-styles of fighting.
And with her twin pistols technique, and acrobatic skill there is perhaps something of a cross between Tomb Raider‘s Lara Croft (a Western icon) and Mirror’s Edge‘s Faith (a character designed to look more Asian) in there as well.
Anyway, enough of all this pretentious look-at-me-I-know-about-stuff bollocks and let’s have a look at the demo.
It begins with a drug deal that goes awry. Don’t they always! Why can’t dealers and gangsters conduct their business transactions in a more neutral manner? Haven’t they heard of Fed-Ex?
When the situation gets out of hand (i.e. people die), guess who’s job it is to intervene and stop the bad guy from escaping via means of a bloody shoot-out? No, not Spiderman. Why would you even say that?
Like a lot of games of this style and complexity the opening sequences feature in-game tutorials to help the player become acquainted with the controls and techniques. You can’t help but feel a little sorry for the goons that get sent out in these sections. They are basically cannon-fodder that serve to make your first few kills as effortless as possible.
The game has chosen to include bullet-time, not merely as a novelty feature like in Max Payne but as something of a necessity (read: pain in the arse). Running and shooting just doesn’t cut it now so the game has developed a technique that allows you to jump and fire at enemies using both guns to aim at two different targets. A neat feature that no doubt becomes a little easier as the game progresses but it seems a little sloppy from the outset.
To add variation to fight sequences Rubi can also fire while sliding along her knees like some ecstatic footballer in a Jet Li film. And she can run along walls. And hang upside from ladders. As many high brow publications would say: “Bitch got moves, yo.” Each jump/slide motion automatically triggers the bullet-time giving a much easier chance of successfully slaughtering villains.
It makes me wonder why the need to be able to shoot both guns individually arose in the first place. Maybe all will be revealed in later levels but from my experience enemies can be disposed of quite easily when in slow-motion so this technique – killing off two enemies at the same time, handy though it may be – just seems to look cool and slick.
I’m going to go ahead and say this: but there’s something Freudian going on here. Rubi disposes of her enemies by “penetrating” them with bullets from “both barrels” of her guns. And on close combat can “penetrate” them further with her large “sword”. I know I’m reading too much into that but fuck you I’m after more word count.
Oh and guess what: quick-time events. During the second part of the demo a car chase takes place. Only you’re on top of the cars, leaping from one roof to another firing at passing enemies in what is quite possibly the most fast-paced sequences I’ve ever played in any game.
The unrealistic feats of acrobatics that Rubi possesses borders on silly but it enables for some rather interesting-looking stunts and death-defying leaps. If Rubi was a bloke, she’d be Jason Statham. Unfortunately the transition from one car to another can only be obtained by quick-time events in which you must press a button with immediate accuracy before a bullet sets up home in your eye socket.
As annoying as this gets when inevitable repetition occurs because the vast majority of the population do not possess clairvoyant capabilities, it is exacerbated further by having to concentrate on these quick-time events whilst keeping yourself free of enemy bullets.
It’s a level of concentration and the desire to not blink for several minutes that does put you on the edge of your seat but also becomes annoying when inevitable repetition occurs (I purposefully repeated that phrase just to illustrate how irritating repetition can be).
I’ve given this aspect of the game its own sub-title. Don’t ask why. I wrote it in. It’s been established. Let’s move on with our lives shall we?
What WET also features is something that…crap…there really is no other way of getting around this Quentin Tarantino reference. I’m sorry, it positively reeks of Kill Bill. It even has a siren-esque battle music.
During these sequences Rubi becomes enraged (somebody else’s blood ruins her morning Shredded Wheat, I dunno…) and the screen ditches intricate and detailed graphics for three basic colours: red, black and white. The decal of the room becomes a strong red and Rubi and enemies become silhouetted as she rampages in rapid-fire mode, literally exploding bad guys with her anger and bullets.
The problem with having rooms with no features is it makes seeing your next destination a little difficult. I circled a room several times looking for doors and/or switches before I realised there was a corridor leading to another room in one corner. I’m supposed to be a slick, eagle-eyed assassin and here I am flailing around an empty room (save for some splatter and puddles of testosterone) like I’ve just discovered a repressed fear of legs.
Oh and white is the colour of blood in these bits.