The action genre has elements which appeal to all types of gamers. It's where hardcore types go when they want something a bit more relaxed, and it's where casual types go when they want to play something with more depth. Action games aren't necessarily easy though, with games like the Ninja Gaiden and Devil May Cry series, there is clearly a market for masochists with excellent motor functions. WET, the new title from Artificial Mind & Movement,
attempts to appeal to both groups, being far to easy for the masochists, and yet riddled with jumping puzzles guaranteed to turn off any but the most hardcore.
The player controls Rubi Malone - a foul mouthed gun-for-hire - as she kills hundreds of people around the world. Rubi slaughters with abandon, starting with a pair of pistols and a sword and gaining shotguns, sub machine-guns and grenade launchers along the way. She can jump, slide, run along walls and flip around poles while she fills her opponents with lead, and when doing these acrobatic moves, time slows down ala Max Payne or Stranglehold. And, like those games, bullet time adds a lot of style to the execution (heh.)
The problem is, however, there is no limit to your bullet time. You have unlimited bullet time and unlimited bullets for your pistols, meaning as long as you keep jumping and sliding you can continue to shoot anyone and everyone in your way without getting hurt. You do have limited ammo for your shotgun, sub machine-gun and grenade launcher, but they aren't necessary - or even particularly useful for most fights.
Most of the fighting takes place in areas cordoned off as arenas - sections you can't just run and gun through on your way to the end of the level. These arenas feature a number of doors you have to close to proceed, and through those doors pour respawning enemies for Rubi to massacre. Arenas are where you do the majority of your slaughter, and where you rack up the most points to put towards upgrades.
Some of the better designed arenas are a lot of fun, allowing you to chain dozens of acrobatic and exceedingly cool looking kills together. Many, however, are plagued by poor level design, with the switches you need to hit to close doors far away from enemies, dropping your point multiplier back to nothing as you run through the emptiness to get to the door.
Occasionally Rubi will open a door to a man running full pelt at her with a large killing instrument, and in a scripted sequence she will put a bullet point blank through his face. His blood covers her and Rubi snaps like a twig, no doubt having just styled her hair or something. The music, already frenetic during normal gameplay, jumps up into speedpunk/grindcore/shouting-with-loud-fast-guitars-and-drums. The graphics shift to a red background, with Rubi and other objects throughout the level changing to black silhouettes, and enemies changing to black silhouettes with contrasting parts of their clothing as white. This is Rage mode.
In Rage Mode Rubi has even less trouble destroying enemies, and you are tasked with killing as many people as possible as fast as possible, with each kill in sequence contributing to a counter in the top right corner instead of the combo multiplier there normally. It all looks incredibly stylish, with blood changing to white and enemies fading out of existence upon death instead of crumpling to the floor.
The game isn't all good times and weapons however, as there are extended sequences where you won't kill anyone at all. These are the dreaded jumping puzzles I mentioned previously, and they are the worst I have seen in any game to date. They are extended and illogical, you are punished with a camera that gives you about half the information you need, and to top it all off, Rubi just sometimes doesn't want to do whatever it is that you want her to do.
Sometimes she would just rather plummet to her death than jump over the gap half the width of every other gap you have jumped over previously, giving you the exciting thrill of going back to the start of the level and trying to figure out where you went wrong. Here's a hint - nowhere. That was probably exactly where you needed to go, but you were facing two degrees too far east or something and Rubi thought you meant jump into the wall instead of over it.
The game also features Quick Time Events, the worst illusory gameplay extension ever created. Fortunately the game gives you ample time to press each button in the sequence, and sequences don't typically last longer than two buttons. The buttons aren't random either, if you fail to hit A at the right time and fall to your death, you know next time pressing A will let you proceed. It's a pleasant surprise next to most games with QTEs.
The inherent simplicity of the gameplay seems to fly in the face of its cut scenes, voice acting and storyline. WET plays like a game for ages 7 and up, yet it would be completely irresponsible to let anyone under the age of 15 play it. WET tries to embrace its Grindhouse
aesthetic, with oodles of graphic violence and exceedingly graphic language. Rubi swears constantly. It goes beyond desensitizing, she swears so much you just wish she would say Cripes! every now and then to add some variety.
Wet seems to be based on the Rodriguez and Tarantino interpretation of Grindhouse, with some Kill Bill thrown in for good measure. 'Quirky' mini cutscenes of popcorn and lobby ads placed throughout important moments are not grindhouse; a grainy, 'badly kept movie' filter over the game to make it look old and ill treated is not grindhouse. House of the Dead: Overkill took a similar approach to the genre, but it succeeded by blowing out the over-the-top campy approach and adding humour to the game. As it is, WET is an imitation of an imitation, and it really doesn't retain the original grindhouse feel.
Overall, excluding the jumping puzzles, there isn't anything particularly bad about WET. It's a fun shooter, it's clearly designed for adults, and it gives you a lot of options for looking cool while mercilessly slaughtering hundreds of people. If you're really bored and you don't mind swearing and violence it's probably worth a pick up, but it's not something I would recommend to an action game fan.