Bethesda Softworks are not exactly known for their third person shooters, being more famous for titles such as Morrowind and Oblivion, both of which were highly acclaimed. So WET is somewhat of a surprise, as it's a departure from their usual RPG game style, and a shift towards something entirely different.
WET is a third-person shooter that seems awfully similar to movies like Kill Bill. Chances are this was the intention, particularly when you have a female heroine to play who can slice and dice pretty much as quickly as Uma Thurman. Even the title WET, which alludes to hands literally wet with blood, suggests something along the same gore levels of Kill Bill. You play Rubi Malone, a gun-for-hire; a gorgeous lady with a real knack for high speed and high class killing manoeuvres.
Rubi is taken around the globe in her quest to follow up leads and undertake hits on individuals, and she does a damn fine job of it. The story element generally involves you following the lead of an individual through a range of levels, while he races off out of the scene as you enter, keeping the trail hot. The 70's feel of the game is obvious, with retro music, retro graphics and retro characters which help add some flavour.
The gameplay involves a number of mechanics we thought were largely extinct. Back are slow-motion attacks, rolls, and jumps in which you can target enemies and do multiple kills per move. Rubi will flit with ease through the levels, barrel rolling over tables and wall climbing with ease. This aspect of the game has been done very well and its probably one of the highlights. You will have access to a number of weapons, and an awesome samurai sword that will have you slashing down multiple enemies at a time. The game is presented entirely like a movie, right down to a grainy film effect. During loading screens you’ll be presented with some pretty humorous clips from what I can only guess is the 50’s, and these no doubt will get a laugh.
The game actively encourages you to make acrobatic kills, i.e. while swinging off poles or flying through the air, or even a wall run. These will allow you to pull off stylish kills, that maximise your points on a level, and increase your multiplier. Yeah, points and multipliers are back. It didn’t work for The Club, and at the end of the day it doesn’t really work for WET either. The points allow you to gauge how well you’ve done on a level, so you can go back and repeat it. Though the game plays fine even by ignoring this element, it doesn’t really add anything valuable to the gameplay. Overall the combo metre simply bleeds out too fast and the pressure takes away from the story.
While it's quite fun swinging off poles, and doing acrobatic moves (you unlock more as you progress) it isn’t nearly as thrilling when the aiming is frustrating. While its reasonably easy to target an enemies head it takes a number of shots in most cases to pull off a headshot, and it means that killing more than a few enemies per acrobatic move becomes nearly impossible. A nice feature though is that when targeting one enemy your second pistol will automatically target another nearby enemy, meaning you can take down two at once. In our case the secondary gun was often more accurate than the one we were aiming, which didn’t help our egos. The levels are cleverly constructed to have a good number of areas for you to perform your acrobatics, and each one is quite different to the last. One of the best aspects of the game is your home, a sort of trailer park in the middle of the desert where you are able to run a time trial to test your metal.
The acrobatic aspects of the game are interspersed with other high actions elements, such as car surfing while trying to take out enemies. Occasionally you are forced to hit a button to make Rubi leap from the car onto another, but overall this does not do much to make the game any more exciting. The targeting here felt even worse than in the single player, which means Rubi took one hell of a pounding while we tried to make head shots. This is unfortunate, as at the end of the day its easier and sometimes more exciting to just use the sword to make most of the kills, but that certainly won’t help your score.
The graphics are quite nice for the most part, though the gritty filter makes them appear worse than they possibly would be otherwise. Fortunately, this overlay does help the feel of the movie-esque presentation and 70's flair. The character models look better than average, particularly Rubi herself, though the NPCs are nothing to write home about. But the environments look excellent. Rubi’s coat flows realistically in the wind, and the animations, (in particular the kills) look great. So overall in this area WET does quite well, and is altogether quite enjoyable to watch.
WET is not a terrible game, but it also isn’t gripping or really very good at what it does. It takes elements we’ve seen and done before, and if anything, implements them worse than previous titles did. The scoring is something that really felt out of place and irritating, and it’d be much better if it weren’t there (yes, because it makes us look pretty useless). Its still a relatively fun third person shooter, but it feels as though a lot of what the developers have tacked on is largely worthless and it may have been better to focus on a straight shooter. Its redeemed by the well implemented cinema experience it conveys, as well as the Kill Bill atmosphere and style of music.
But as it stands, WET certainly won’t be a game to go down in the hearts and minds of gamers around the world.