WET is a new breed of third-person action games. While the name itself caused an eye roll as I popped it in the Xbox 360, the minute the gameplay began, that eye roll was long forgotten. WET is a wild ride that gets every ounce of you pumped up for the next scene and adding plenty of “Oh shit!” moments that barrel it over some of it’s potholes along the way.
You play as Rubi Malone, a leather armor-clad vixen. She’s a bounty hunter/assassin/deadly woman for hire, and when things go wrong on a job, she is flung into a world of double-crossing, murder, drug runners, and revenge. The overall style of WET is one with some strong influences. We see heavy elements of grind-house film-work, Kill Bill-esque action, Max Payne slow-motion combat mechanics, and a splash of Tomb Raider Legend’s wall-scaling techniques. This unique combination has you lunging off walls and dual-wielding tons of pistol rounds of slow-mo fury into waves of baddies, landing in a knee-slide, pulling out dual shotties for some behind the head carnage, and finishing the job with an uppercut from your katana.
The first things you learn to do are jump and slide, but you work your way up to pole-swinging and sliding down ladders upside-down. You are given just enough time to learn each move before you are given a new one. Pulling the trigger during any of these acrobatics will launch Rubi into her dual-wielding slow-motion combat. While the AI auto-aims one gun, you easily aim the other — giving you a chance to get multiple kills at once, and upwards of 6-10 kills per slow-mo sequence. There is no reloading of any of your guns, and WET took a note from Left 4 Dead and gave the pistols infinite rounds, allowing for a relentless barrage of firepower at your fingertips.
While all of that action may sound amazing, it can be a little choppy and repetitive. The different choices in acrobatics you can unlock are fun, but you will rely heavily on the more basic moves. You end up jumping and sliding and jumping and sliding through each level and occasionally running up an enemy’s torso to fling yourself into the air. The loose controls make the wall climbing aspects a little difficult, and you will die quite a few times trying to master different areas. Although you can force Rubi to slightly change direction mid-slow-mo jump, if she runs into a wall or box during this time, your bullet-time will be greatly reduced and the flow of the carnage interrupted. Only some sections of walls will let you climb up and jumps that look easy prove to be very difficult. The nice thing is that though the controls can be a bit of a challenge and the levels a little repetitive, you simply don’t tire of pulling off a beautifully flowing acrobatic massacre. The way her body twists and moves makes you feel like you stepped into the Matrix— as long as the fluidity is uninterrupted.
While all the areas provide interesting locales and collectibles to retrieve, the best part of each section is the arena. It’s a part of each level that has some serious carnage in mind for you, and allows the best opportunity to rack up skill points. Throughout the game, you earn skill points for each level based on your kills — your use of acrobatics, and getting kills in rapid succession — utilizing a multiplier. The better you do, the higher the points you get at the end of each level, which you spend to upgrade health, guns, and acrobatic moves. The arenas provide a closed off area that has multiple Gauntlet-style enemy spawn points on either the ground level or at areas you must climb up to. Usually there will be a mini-boss with a mini-gun that slow you down and take a good amount of damage before you can go in for the kill — which is cinematic and uses ‘action buttons’.
Your arsenal includes dual pistols, SMG’s, shotguns, exploding crossbows, and a katana. The guns have their own typical strengths and weaknesses. The upgrades include firepower, capacity, and firing rate. The katana can prove to be helpful when you are cornered or fighting in a tight space, but the melee aspect is lacking. All you can do with it is hack and slash with a single button. You can use it when you come out of a slide or jump, but due to the controls you have about a 60% chance of actually hitting your mark the way you were planning.
Rubi is prone to blackout moments of pure rage, which the game aptly calls “Rage” mode. The B-movie flair melts away to a world of red, black, and white with some seriously energizing music. The gameplay doesn’t change here, but Rubi does become stronger; making killing much easier and your multiplier is allowed to sky rocket. While these aren’t the most entertaining stretches of the story and the color palette can be a little disorienting, they are definitely a welcome jolt of aesthetic variation and lend to the all over bad-ass feeling of the game. Rubi also has a training ground which supplies the player a chance to test out their new guns along the way, as well as an opportunity to increase the replay value. From here you can participate in timed trials, earning medals and achievements.
WET has a lot to offer in the presentation department. The soundtrack is simply amazing as it boasts an intense and large track list of rockabilly/psycho-billy/surf rock. Add that to the filmgrain overlay, the impossible but still somehow believable physics, the cleverly placed intermission and concession ads; you’ve got yourself a unique grind-house spin on a game. The voice actors were just as you’d expect them to be in a B-movie, but in a good way. They were campy, tough, and over the top without being annoying. Almost all the characters are Asian, but the game had more of a western feel. Think Sukiyaki Western Django. The character models aren’t the best you’ve seen on these next-gen consoles, but they fit well in the overall ambiance of the game.
There were quite a few realtime action button sequences throughout WET. Most of them were executed in scenes where Rubi is jumping from car to car in edge-of-your-seat car chases or during cut-scenes. These were fun because it changed up the gameplay and the cinematics were spot on. Unfortunately, the final battle was one of these realtime moments as well. It’s like the developers couldn’t quite make the combat system work for battling the single enemy, so they took a lazy way out. It lent a lot to the story and gave you an intense fight scene that you couldn’t otherwise enjoy visually, but it left me feeling unsatisfied.
WET has much to enjoy if you can get past the holes in the gameplay. It was seriously fun and while I had it, I couldn’t put it down. Unfortunately, it has all the elements to set the bar high for third-person action games, but they were never completely pieced together at once to create the perfect package. I am really looking forward to a sequel. WET‘s good enough to want A2M to have another shot at providing us with that perfect combination of direction, presentation, gameplay, and “Oh shit!” moments. I’d hate to just be left with this one game when they have such potential within their grasp to do it right next time. As for right now, WET will remain as much of a cult classic as the movies that inspired it.
I give WET 3.5 “Best health items ever!” out of 5.