Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Artificial Mind
Release Date: Q3 2009
It was somewhat surprising to see Wet at the Bethesda press event in London last week. Bethesda has become the new publisher for the title, and Wet has a much more solid style since the last time the game was showcased. The title is presented like a 1970s action movie, though packed with more modern stylized gun fighting, such as the kind found in a Quentin Tarantino film.
In the game, you play as Rubi, a professional fixer who tackles dangerous wetwork missions (thus the name) to solve her client's problems. Rubi is touted as a more contemporary take on Clint Eastwood's character in "A Fistful of Dollars" or "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" in that she is talented with a firearm and is somewhat amoral. She is obviously dedicated to the completion of her client's goals, but she's not against burning a criminal alive in the process, as evidenced during one particularly entertaining cut scene.
Rubi's expertise with firearms is obvious in her acrobatic fighting style, which is a central part of the game. Running across a room and gunning down someone with Rubi's pistol is one way of going about things, but she also has a few acrobatic moves at her disposal. The standard leaping dive is one of them, as is sliding forward on her knees or shooting and running along a wall. Rubi can also kick-flip backward off of an enemy in front of her, staggering the foe while letting her fire at him from the air. These moves can also be chained together. In any acrobatic move, the game enters slow motion, which is an unlimited mechanic so you don't need to worry about having the ability charged up; as long as you are in an acrobatic or otherwise stylish move, you have the advantage in combat.
This advantage is increased when Rubi is in such moves, since she can use both of her pistols at once and begins independently shooting at targets. While her primary firearm is always manually controlled and fires at the crosshair in the center of the screen, her second firearm will automatically seek out any other target on-screen and place a red targeting reticle on it. Every time Rubi fires, she is effectively dealing double damage, shooting at both the automatic target as well as whatever is under the main crosshair. The system tries to find a different target from what's under the current set of crosshairs, but if there is only one on-screen enemy at the time, it'll lock on to that one — twice.
Beyond trying to look cool, there is a point behind all of the style. The more style with which Rubi dispatches her foes, the more points she gains, with bonuses also popping up for doing certain things in combat. Keeping style chains alive means increased point gains, giving the player incentive to scan the field to find the best ways to chain together moves for maximum effect. These points are used as a form of currency to unlock additional moves or abilities, though how the system comes into play remains to be seen, as it was not shown during our viewing.
Rubi can shoot at all times, during acrobatic moves as well as when she grabs a ladder with her legs and slides down, hanging upside down as she deals death. Sometimes the animations looked somewhat improbable, such as when was she's able to continuously track targets as she flips from one pole to another, but it was entertaining to see her diving over tables and sliding under machinery. You'd plainly see both of her arms blasting away at two different foes at any given time. Rubi also has a sword at her disposal, which is used more as an exclamation point during combat rather than something that the player relies on. Other weapons that Rubi will use include dual shotguns, dual SMGs, and at some point, an explosive crossbow, though these weapons weren't shown to us in the presentation.
Certain areas of Wet differ from the gameplay norm, and in one case, the game becomes a "glorified on-rails shooter" as Rubi surfed on top of a speeding car and exchanged fire with gunmen in other vehicles. This part of the game was peppered with Quick Time Events, making the player hit a button to have Rubi leap onto another vehicle just before the one she was on crashes into another car. The whole thing was pretty awesome, with Rubi running in slow motion alongside a bus and flipping through the air to leap onto another vehicle.
In other areas, Rubi may be cast into a combat arena of sorts and must clear the enemies in the area to proceed. Making things more difficult is that the area has multiple enemy spawning locations that must be somehow disabled, such as slamming a garage door shut over them. These areas were called "skate parks for gunplay," since they're practically filled with objects that Rubi can interact with to chain together moves as she racks up kills and style points from spawn gate to spawn gate. Once all gates are closed and all of the enemies have been felled, Rubi can proceed to the next area.
Another mode, used more as a form of stress relief after a particularly stressful or difficult area, is the Enrage mode, which starts with something royally pissing off Rubi. In this mode, the world turns red, enemies turn into black silhouettes, blood becomes bright white, and Rubi becomes a faster, deadlier, nearly invincible version of herself. Enemies fracture and break apart when killed, and the mode is basically little more than Rubi tearing through enemies like a scythe cuts through wheat.
The Wet presentation featured the San Francisco setting, though by the time the game ends, Rubi will have traveled the globe, including England and Hong Kong right around its New Year's celebration. The game's plot is being authored by the same talent who penned the first five seasons of the TV series "24," with voice talent provided by Eliza Dushku as Rubi and other talent, such as Alan Cummings and Malcolm McDowell as the villains.
The game definitely has a high degree of action to it, but what we noticed most about Wet was how it sticks to its style. The optional film grain effect does justice to the film technology of the '70s, and load screens come complete with an old-school animated intermission film, complete with dancing Nestle bars. When Rubi finds and drinks a bottle of whiskey to restore health, she throws it into the air and blasts it apart in a short cut scene. During the gameplay, you sometimes have punk and rock numbers blasting away in the background, which only underscores the game's quirky appeal.
Our only regret from seeing Wet in action is that we didn't get any time to check it out for ourselves, though the presentation showed that the game has a definitive style and a pretty healthy dose of high-flying gun fighting. Wet is set to hit in the fall of this year for the X360 and PS3 platforms, but between now and then, we will see if we can't get in some play time to check out how well the substance holds up to the style. If the game plays as well as it is presented, action fans may need to add a blip to their fall release radar.
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