WET 360, PS3 Review
Women in video games, eh? For all the advancement of our precious medium over the last few decades – on technical, aesthetic and artistic levels – we still can’t really do believable female protagonists. At least, not with any consistency. Most people are still happy to start blabbering on about Lara Croft being a positive female role model, mind you – while people who actually know anything about games (or positive female role models) will more likely bring up the likes of Alyx Vance or April Ryan. And they’ll have a point, but Alyx and April are definitely the exception rather than the rule.
And now we’ve got WET, starring Rubi Malone. A killer-for-hire from the Lara Croft school of feminism, you can tell she’s not your average bimbo because she’s got ATTITUDE, man. I mean, she SWEARS A LOT and DRINKS BOOZE and KILLS LOADS OF MEN WITH GUNS AND A SWORD. She’s also completely two-dimensional and unlikeable, but hey-ho! Of course, she’s plastered all over any promotional materials you’ll have seen relating to the game, looking all sultry and badass – except the game’s title makes me wonder if she’s just done a wee in her trousers. But that’s me.
WET‘s a third-person action game where you run around killing the hell out of a lot of dudes. It also features a bunch of utterly shameless nods to Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill. Of course, this being a video game, it’s nowhere near as clever or mature as its main influence – so, what could’ve been a respectful homage winds up looking like a serious case of idea-theft. Narrative aside, there are some stylistic nods to cinema, with the flickery film-effect (which you’ll turn off after an hour’s play) and the fact that the action is occasionally broken up with little cinema interlude films from a few decades back. Which is a nice idea, if only it made any kind of sense, and didn’t seem so incongruous or irrelevant. The story and dialogue are also total guff – a fuss has been made over the involvement of Eliza Dushku and some guy who wrote some episodes of 24, but if this is the kind of narrative that ‘professional’ talent brings to video games, then I still want Hideo Kojima writing my cutscenes, thanks.
Of course, more important than the story is the the feel of the game’s controls. But this is, sadly, another hurdle that WET sort of stumbles over. A lot of the time you’ll find yourself wondering if you’re actually playing a dated PS2 game – Rubi’s movement often feels clunky and inaccurate, and the aiming reticule has a funny habit of floating around/past your desired target no matter how hard you try and aim properly. Using Rubi’s sword also causes her to lurch forward with each swing, which is useful when darting between targets, but total dogshit when your target is stood right in front of you and your first attack causes you to step right past him.
Another let-down is the fact that, while the box promises all kinds of acrobatic jollies, the game doesn’t really deliver. You’re awarded bonus points for killing thugs when jumping through the air, wall-running, or sliding across the floor – and doing so slows the game to a crawl, allowing you to pick off your targets with greater ease. What’s cool is the fact that, since Rubi wields two guns at a time, you manually aim one gun, while the second auto-aims at the nearest opponent, making it easy to kill several guys at once. What’s less cool is the fact that you’ll just spend 90% of the game floating through the air, jumping constantly just to keep the bullet-time effect in play. It’s not much fun at all, and you can’t stop yourself thinking a full-speed replay of the battle would look utterly ridiculous, and certainly nothing like the movies that WET hopes to recreate. You can unlock a couple of nice extensions to Rubi’s acrobatic abilities – being able to increase your air-time by jumping off enemies, for example – but it’s not really enough. The wall-run is too awkward to be of any real use, and the floor-slide can be a pain too, relying as it does on open, flat areas. So you always revert back to the standard jump.
Then there’s the RAGE MODE sections. Sometimes, Rubi goes a bit nuts and the game adopts a fancy art style where absolutely everything is red, black, or white. The game calls this RAGE MODE, but I’m writing that in capitals in the hope that you’ll get that I’m over-emphasising in the name of sarcasm. Because, nice art style aside, the RAGE MODE sections really don’t play much differently to the rest of the game. You shoot some guys, lock some doors to stop more guys coming in… and that’s about it. Business as usual. Furthermore, the striking art style invites comparisons with MadWorld – and this is something that WET really needed to avoid, because MadWorld is a much, much better video game, allowing as it did for actual freedom and creativity, where WET just asks you to keep jumping and shooting. Those of you who’ve just played the Bayonetta demo will also certainly be able to spot how clunky WET really is.
WET isn’t irredeemably crap by any means, mind you – the tedium is occasionally broken up by one of a number of fairly incredible set-pieces that rarely disappoint, even if you do wonder at times how much influence you’re really having on the goings-on around you. But when you’re shooting people whilst freefalling from an exploding aeroplane, you won’t really care. Those of you who are just looking for a quick bit of fun might get something out of it before trading it in a week later, but this doesn’t stop WET being difficult to recommend. I’m normally the first person to enthuse about games that are a bit rough around the edges but have an underlying sense of character (see: Earth Defense Force 2017, Psychonauts, any Dynasty Warriors game, etc), but WET just isn’t compelling, original or fun enough to really fit into that category. As it is, it’s a short-lived, occasionally exciting but overall shallow experience. Definitely one to rent, if you really must play it at all.