Even though Wanted is originally based on a comic book, it was the 2008 movie that brought the name into the general public eye.
I hadn’t seen either when the game Wanted: Weapons of Fate arrived so I made a point of watching the movie first before the game went anywhere near my console. I‘m glad I did, in fact as it turns out, a knowledge of the movie could be seen as a prerequisite to playing the game – as the game doesn’t really explain the backstory to any degree.
For the record, I thought the movie Wanted was thoroughly entertaining in a switch-off-your-brain kind of way. While the story had more holes than a rusty colander, the action and special effects were first class and worth the cover price alone.
Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman were boring, although their characters were supposed to be rather emotionless anyway. The star of the show is the lead actor James McAvoy and a couple of the auxiliary characters.
This third-person shooter game follows on from the events in the movie, and has you playing as Wesley Gibson who has already been trained from an anxiety-ridden office worker into a lethal Fraternity Assassin, and is living amongst his deceased Father’s things (I have to be careful not to spoil any integral movie plots here, so forgive me if I am a little vague in places). Having eliminated most of one faction of the Fraternity ultimately causes other factions to come looking for you.
This sees you setting off to learn more about your origins, on the way to killing your Father’s nemesis by fighting wave upon wave of enemy, the occasional level boss and an eventual showdown. During the nine missions (yes, only nine – but I’ll get to that disappointment later), you mainly play as Wesley but occasionally the game goes back in time to give some insight into your Father’s legacy and therefore why you’re hell-bent of finishing things once and for all.
Much like Gears of War, Wanted relies heavily on a cover-system and an intuitive one at that – although the Easy difficulty, or “Pussy” as the game calls it, does allow latitude for some run & gun action or run & stab depending on your level of sadism. You can’t take cover behind just anything, but it’s very obvious what you can use as they have been deliberately placed. Peeking out from behind cover allows you to quickly move to the next available cover at the press of a button. This is an important part of the game as moving swiftly from cover to cover confuses the enemy as to your whereabouts and allows you to sneak up on them for a better angle.
Getting close enough to an enemy brings the melee option into play. On your feet, this means a small selection of brutal finishing manoeuvres with your hunting knife, but from behind cover it’s as simple as reaching over and slamming either blade through their skull. Either way, it’s deadly and impressive.
From cover you can blind fire, but you won’t hit anything, or be able to aim, the whole reason for blind fire here is to suppress the enemy back into cover so you can move without being spotted.
So far, Wanted: Weapons of Fate sounds like a stock standard, garden variety third-person shooter, but it does have a couple of stand-out features, one of which lifts the game to its better-than-average rating. Firstly is the use of ‘adrenaline’ which aids in your focus. This is nothing new – most games call it ‘bullet time’, but Wanted uses it well and as it’s relevant to the movie too, so you know its inclusion wasn’t a “Hey, we might as well throw in a bullet-time feature. All the cool games are doing it” kind of decision.
Using adrenaline while running between cover allows you to slow the action down enough to take out several enemies at once, in much the same way as the excellent game Stranglehold did. Your adrenaline meter is limited however but can be refilled immediately by making a fresh kill.
Occasionally you encounter a scripted adrenaline section in which the game offers you a rail-driven segment akin to Time Crisis where you have a few short seconds to kill a couple of enemies and maybe a static target before sliding onto another and so on. These sections are nicely done albeit very short.
The main point of difference is Wesley’s ability to bend bullets – again, an integral part of the movie action. When you earn this ability (the second level if I recall correctly), a press of a button will produce a red line from the muzzle of your gun. Moving the left stick curves this line to the intended target and it will turn white if you’re able to make a clean hit; releasing the button then fires off a bullet which will curve around any cover or obstacle and take them out. After using this a few times it becomes second nature and you can easily take out half a dozen enemies in as many seconds. If you release at the wrong time and miss then you immediately drain all your adrenaline, but keep scoring hits and your meter will remain full. Nail a headshot with a curved shot and you will be treated with a bullet’s eye view of the kill, which is always nice.
While bending bullets is great fun, I would have preferred the feature to have had some strategic appeal rather than for almost every kill. Sure, you don’t have to use it, but I guarantee you’ll damn well want to.
Graphically, Wanted: Weapons of Fate is a great looking game. The environments, textures and character models aren’t top-shelf, but are definitely hanging onto the edge of it. The cut-scenes are right up there with the best though. As a package, the presentation is slick, polished and faithful to the atmosphere of the movie.
So is there anything negative about the game? Yes. The whole shebang is over far too quickly to warrant the full price tag. Just as you seem to be getting into your groove and looking forward to some more challenging levels, it’s over. There’s nine levels in all, ranging from short to medium length and the whole game can be finished in one short sitting.
Unfortunately there’s not much there to make you want to pick it up and play it again unless you want to earn some melee/headshot trophies/achievements or you’re a “100% freak” and want all the collectables like concept art, pictures etc.
The only other negative – there’s no Angelina Jolie in it (granted, some of you will see that as a positive).
Ultimately, Wanted: Weapons of Fate is a short game, but excellent fun while it lasts. Taking things into consideration, I guess the shine of its stand-out features would probably wear off if it were much longer anyway. So while it might not be worth parting with $100+ for, it’s well worth a rental or adding to your collection if and when you can pick it up on special.