Guns, grindhouse violence, car-hopping, and Eliza Dushku. Outside of a few gameplay quirks, it's pretty hard to go wrong. But is WET a winner for gamers? Read our review to find out.
Video games have long borrowed liberally from Hollywood, but they typically look no further than glossy big budget film productions for inspiration. WET goes in another direction, drawing its strength from the grit and grime of a 1970's martial arts drive-in flick. The results are sometimes rocky, but WET's idiosyncratic style and intense action makes it unlike anything else you'll play this year.
WET: Death from Above
As the lights go down, our curvy protagonist keeps watch over a meeting of what pass for criminal minds in San Francisco's Chinatown. Rubi Malone's one of the underworld's great Fixers: violent all-purpose problem-solvers who don't catch the vapors when the blood starts to spray. When the deal inevitably goes sideways, Rubi dives from her perch, and injects herself into a convoluted tale involving a syndicate leader's wayward son, warring drug smuggling syndicates, and a pasty white goth chick with the ominous name "Tarantula".
Despite the vocal talents of Eliza Dushku, Malcolm McDowell, and Alan Cumming, I never found a reason to care about the narrative's blur of absurd villainy, but I immediately loved WET 's self-consciously affected lo-fi style. Simulated grain and projector scratches spot and streak the screen, the image itself jumps a little as if the "film" can barely stay on its sprocketed track as you take damage, and even the music strays from the beaten path with an array of obscure but energetic psychobilly bands. It's a coarse grindhouse aesthetic that owes more to Quentin Tarantino than Roger Corman, and makes for a welcome change from the usual generic spit and polish.
WET: Rapid Fire
This distinctive visual processing could've seemed like a hollow attention-grabbing gimmick, but Rubi's antics suit the modified medium. The gun-crazed gameplay owes much to Max Payne and Stranglehold, but WET's been cut down like a chopped hog in favour of adrenaline-fueled arcade pacing. Rubi fires her gun with all the speed of a Civil War musketeer until you send her hurtling through the air, running up a wall, or sliding along a flat surface; then she unloads in an unrestricted slow-mo fury, twisting in the air and chaining her acrobatics as you aim around the scene. Little in the environment is breakable, which limits the sense of spectacle, but somebody went to some trouble setting up ramps and bars. If a mob war took place on a jungle gym, this is what it'd look like.
Rubi unlocks and applies simple strength and capacity upgrades to dual shotguns, submachine guns, and a crossbow that shoots explosive bolts, and occasionally heads back to her desert home to run a handful of tedious practice courses, but you'll spend most of the game holding down the right trigger, lining up headshots, and lashing out with your sword when somebody gets too close. Heck, WET even aims your left weapon for you, so you can take out thugs in pairs, and only late in the game will you encounter any enemies wise enough to wear armor or helmets.
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