WET: A Review
Say 'what' again!
It's taken me two hours to think of how to begin this opening paragraph, so I'm going to have to give up and say this: WET is the most underappreciated shooter the PS3/X360 has to offer. I say underappreciated rather than underrated because people try to rate it based on what they want it to be, not what it actually is. What other critics wanted it to be was far more explosive, far better voice acted and far more serious. What it is, is the most story-driven action shooter that manages to mimic a Tarantino film to a tee, combining the cheapness, grittiness and humour of the grindhouse genre. Even though I said in my House of the Dead: Overkill review that HotD tries to be a 1970s cheap grindhouse flick, it cannot hold a candle to the choreography, the voice talent and the film grain that is present in WET.
That's not to say that WET is without flaw, as this is a very easy shooter regardless of difficulty (and coming from me, that's saying a lot) in early stages, and you'll find it very hard to die on the easiest of settings. I also encountered things like bugs involving sliding through solid surfaces (don't laugh, this is in any game that has slo-mo or dodging, even Mass Effect and Gears of War) and boring gunplay mechanics at times. But don't let these put you off, or at least, not yet. Read the rest of the review before you leap on the bandwagon and feel ill toward this game.
Players assume the role of problem fixer Rubi Malone, the Uma Thurman slash Jason Statham of WET and main character. As you'd expect "problem fixer" means assassin, thief and general mechanic for life's many problems. Given enough money and a good reason, and she'll do anything from murdering a figure of power or retrieving an item of sentimental value. My favourite thing about Malone is that she's not the hottest woman in video gaming nor is she built up to be - what she lacks in looks (she's not exactly a toad, either) she more than makes up for in great animations in combat and awesome gun skills, taking traits from characters such as Frank of the Transporter series as well as whatshername from Kill Bill. Her character is very well designed and fits in with the Tarantinoesque theme that is forever present in WET.
Now bear with me, I'm going to be using that word a lot. What Tarantinoesque means is that something is very much like the creation of - or the person - Quentin Tarantino, director of multiple films we may remember like the Kill Bill series, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and a personal favourite, Inglorious B'stards. Tarantino is known to use excessive amounts of gore, throw unfitting songs over fight scenes and have a lack of an antagonist but instead have a story revolve around the main character. Most of the characters in his films are not good, but killers - in Kill Bill the protagonist is an assassin; in Reservoir Dogs the gang is a bunch of bank robbers and in Death Proof the main character is a serial killer who puts people through his car. He also tries to mash up his film reels as much as possible, throwing them about and letting them slide around in the trucks as they're taken from location to location, just so he can get that film grain on the footage. Can't complain though, it works. Tarantino is one of the few directors who can capture the 70s in this millennia, and even though I wasn't born then, I can at least understand it was more than just discos, afros and burning, baby, burning.
Moving swiftly on....
"I said before that ordinary combat is a tad shallow, but WET manages to fill the hole in its heart with some great innovations."
That's all you had to say!
When it comes down to it, WET's gameplay is varied but at the same time limited, as though there's different ways of doing the same thing. You'll be using mostly your guns at times, which are limited to a pistol, shotgun, submachine gun and assault rifle, but you'll also be using your katana for melee combat, which is far more satisfying than most games of this genre. The guns aren't as satisfying as they could be unless you're soaring through the air or power sliding through the street like you're a member of AC/DC. I say the guns could be so much better because they seem ever so slow and way to unbalanced; it's like as though the only way to kill someone with firearms is while you're jumping in the air during slow motion and blasting foes away, and even then they have the toughest time hitting you so there's not much of a fair challenge. Whenever you jump or slide and fire your weapons time slows down and you're given a much better chance to aim your weapons and attack. This also allows one of Rubi's pistols to auto-aim onto one opponent so you can shoot another with your other firearm, but outside of slow-motion she can only use one weapon at a time.
It's great slicing through your foes but you're fully vulnerable and have no defence, meaning that you can decimate everyone in your path with a katana, but there's no way you're going to do so without taking heavy damage. So you can tell that combat - while it's awesome and perhaps cliché - is unbalanced. But where the game picks itself up and dusts itself off is the ways you can fight. As said before, slow-motion is the main thing but on occasion you will witness scenes that Uncharted wish it did before it was born. Going free-fall in an exploded plane whilst gunning down your foes for a parachute; hopping from car to car to retrieve something that may seem insignificant to anyone who doesn't need it and literally turning the whole world bloody red and dismembering those in your way in brutal melee combat. I said before that ordinary combat is a tad shallow, but WET manages to fill the hole in its heart with some great innovations.
To make matters even better there's an upgrade shop that actually works, because a lot of games that seem to shoehorn this in don't have upgrades you'll use, but here you will all the time. Things like life-bar upgrades, weapon damage upgrades, using weapons under certain conditions (swinging from a bar, sliding down a rope) and the damage dealt within-slow motion moves. It's quite hard to max out all the abilities you'll need in some cases, and it'll be even harder to get every single ability in one playthrough, but it's a rewarding system and encourages you to go for classy kills, not to mention find the hidden cymbal clashing monkeys in each level.
Rubi earns points by killing, and multipliers can be found in the environment or by racking up more kills. In "arena" combat where enemies keep spawning until you shut off the doors they come through, you'll have plenty of opportunities to decimate and dismember those who threaten your life, and rack up a ginormous amount of points. And at the end of each level, you get to spend them accordingly on upgrades. This isn't to say that scoring headshots and engaging only in melee combat is the best way to go, because each enemy only gives approximately ten points, so there is strategy involved in order to drain more out of them. I needn't tell Stranglehold players the importance of "the testi-kill", and the same applies here.
Shut the f**k up, fat man!
There really isn't much to WET hence why my review was rather short. In one draft of the introduction I compared the game to Machete, in the same way that it was a fantastic film packed with explosions, gore and bullets everywhere but you can't really talk about each bomb going off and each round fired. This is what makes WET such a hard game to review: with the exception of the guns, swordplay and the ways you execute it, what else is there?
WET's visuals, while not astounding, are still tolerable and the option to turn the film grain off is there. In my first playthrough of the game some years back I found it awfully distracting but as a grindhouse fan, I kept it on and it certainly adds to the authenticity of the experience. But it's not the gore nor the character models one should be routing for, rather the animations. They're not top-notch but the sword fights look as liquid as they feel, with some of the finest melee combat control I've felt in a video game. Diving through the air and sliding looks quite cool too, for the first hour, before it becomes quite a bore. The quick time events are few yet I'm always asking for more because they're very well choreographed. It's no Heavy Rain, but it beats the Hell out of Viking: Battle for Asgard.
The soundtrack is also rather good, combining punk, rock & roll and metal in different parts to fit the mood. This game uses tracks that already exists rather than make its own original music, further enhancing the Tarantino mood. But surely a bit more Spanish Flea and Ray Charles would've made things far more interesting! And for once the gun sound effects actually have some kick, particularly the pistols! But there's not much left to say apart from the voice acting being mediocre despite having talent such as Malcolm McDowell.
On a personal rating, WET gets an eight out of nine but based on its gameplay I'm going to give it a professional rating of SEVEN out of NINE, as well as the "Chainsaw Hero" accolade! WET does what it is supposed to and nothing more, taking every element of grindhouse and Quentin Tarantino's masterpieces to make a hybrid, something that a single film cannot do without several studios. And because it falls very few times in its technical side (loading times and bugs were few) nor its aesthetics, it's a working product that gets high marks, which is more than can be said for other games on the market.
I'd honestly recommend this to anyone but if you're not going to buy it for any reason, you've no excuse not to at least rent it, because it deserves more attention from people who know what they're talking about. It will only last you around 9 hours at best, 14-20 if you're trying to find the monkeys and is perfect for killing time. But if you're another cult follower you'll find a lot of replay value in this title! So until the next time, thanks for reading, and have a pleasant day! Oh, and be sure to tell me what you think in the comments below!