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Digging Through The Bargin Bin
Hello folks, it’s Eryc here. You may notice that the game I’m reviewing here is dated. Periodically, I’ll grab an older game from the previous console generation that looked interesting but I wasn’t able to grab at the time. Since I’m playing them presently, I’ll review them to inform you if they are worth digging out of the bargain bin.
A Little History
Wet is a stylized Third Person Shooter for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, developed by Artificial Mind and Movement Studios and released in 2009. A Playstation Portable version was in the works but was ultimately cancelled.
Wet, which is short for wetwork, places the player in the shoes of Rubi Mallone, the whiskey drinking, dual wielding, acrobatic gun for hire. Stationed somewhere in the southwest US, she spends her time in her “boneyard”, or training ground, accepting wetwork for cash.
The game opens with Rubi crashing a decoy deal setup to steal a package of hers. It’s through this that the audience is introduced to Rubi and the Ackers family. Being the underground, no one's hands are clean. The game’s events follow Rubi as she gets wrapped up in the Acker’s family troubles.
Being a third person shooter, Wet has a heavy focus on combat, with a fair share of platforming involved. Rubi will climb ledges and make the perilous jumps that are par for the course. Some of her platforming abilities are useful both in and out of combat such as wall running, wall bouncing, swinging from pipes or hanging from ledges. In combat, Rubi will eventually procure and utilize five weapons - her trademark pistols, shotguns, machine guns, crossbows and her trusty Dao sword. Each locale has enemies that will fit its theme, but there are roughly four enemy types - Regular mooks, leaders, blockers and bosses. Regular mooks carry basic firearms or melee weapons and function as cannon fodder. Blockers carry melee weapons exclusively but can block most gunfire and must be dispatched by way of head-shots, explosions or, ironically, melee attacks. Leaders are slow moving minibosses that carry miniguns and inspire their accompanying regular mooks to be more aggressive. They’re melee-immune bullet sponges that must be dispatched via QTE once hurt enough. Bosses function like leaders but are more resilient.
Wet sports a more refined implementation of the run and gun formula started by Max Payne and continued on by the likes of Dead to Rights, Total Overdose and even Enter the Matrix. The spin put on the formula is three-fold. Wet’s motto is essentially “Everything is better with shooting. Even shooting.” It takes the monkey motif and runs with it, allowing Rubi to shoot while jumping around, running on walls, diving or sliding and swinging from pipes and bars. This is practically required as doing so activates “acrobatic slo-mo”, granting improved aiming and prompting her to her to draw and fire her selected weapon akimbo. One weapon is manually aimed while the second trained on a random enemy automatically. Dispatch enemies fast enough and you’ll raise your combo meter. Not only does this help you score more acrobatic points that you can spend to upgrade your abilities and weapons, but it will immediately allow you to start regenerating health. Otherwise you’d have to find a bottle of whiskey to drink. Periodically, engagements will occur under special circumstances such as arena segments where Rubi is trapped in an enclosed area and must defeat enemies as well as destroy their spawn points, car surf scenes where Rubi fights enemies between completing Quick Time Events to hop between and dodge vehicles and Rage segments where the world is rendered in Grindhouse black, red and white, that offer increased fire rate.
Style - Wet definitely has a prominent aesthetic going for it. The title screen exclaims “Prepare for monkey business!” and it most certainly delivers. The influence of modern grindhouse films and Hong Kong action films can be seen throughout. Your health bar is a film strip. Reaching low health triggers a grainy, damaged film effect reminiscent of overworn film reels (another grindhouse staple). Dying causes a film reel to stop and melt. Rubi’s signature fighting style is reminiscent of Chow Yun-Fat with her slo-mo and guns akimbo style heavily used in Hong Kong Action films of the 90’s. Wet is all about stylish violence and the genres it draws from certainly make for a great combination
Music - I was very pleased with the soundtrack. Filled with country, rock and roll, psychobilly and more genres, the Wet soundtrack is high energy and fits well with Rubi and all of her gory adventures.
Formula update - Rubi’s set of acrobatics offers more variety than those available in Max Payne and Total Overdose. Tying slo-mo to them instead of an exhaustible bar streamlines its use and removes the hassle. Removing the nigh-invulnerability that its Max Payne and Total Overdose counterparts exhibited, balances it as a resource and forces the player to fight strategically. Rubi’s dual targeting improves upon the targeting system in Total Overdose just as the combo multiplier health regen improves upon the random health powerups that Total Overdose’s combo system offered. All these are welcome changes and help make the game fun.
Rubi - Rubi isn’t a very compelling character. While her brashness can be entertaining at first, it can run thin pretty quickly. That’s because her brashness is about all there is to Rubi. She is either mildly annoyed or in a murderous rage. She’s either shooting your for money, shooting your for revenge or chugging whiskey between doing the former two. Rubi reminded me of Revy (of Black Lagoon fame) somewhat. They’re both guns for hire that rely on acrobatics and dual wielding with a penchant for booze, bad attitudes and money chasing. But unlike Rubi, Revy gets challenged on the implications of her ways and seems to grow some because of it. Rubi never gets that chance. Her dedication to money gets her and her friends in trouble that could’ve been partially avoided and she ends the game with much the same attitude that she began with, seemingly learning nothing. This is sad because there’s a couple times where she shows glimmers of caring about something other than money, booze and murder. Perhaps this is intentional, considering its influences, but it still feels like Rubi doesn’t get the chance to grow.
QTEs - By this point in gaming, we should’ve been able to do QTEs right. Heavy Rain was only a year away and it’s renowned for doing it right. The varying windows of opportunity and finicky sweet spots is rather annoying. QTEs during combat can be passed easily as you get 2 or so seconds to push the button and there isn’t any penalty for pushing it sooner as opposed to later. QTEs during platforming prompt earlier than they should be activated. This is either because you aren’t in position or other mechanics that should be disabled aren’t. For example, there is a segment where you must escape a crumbling hallway. The prompt you get doesn’t respond properly for a second or so. If you mash the button when it appears, you will literally jump into an invisible barrier and then wall bounce back into the wreckage. Not cool, Rubi. Not cool.
My opinion of Wet changed about halfway throughout. I initially had a hard time playing it as I couldn’t aim properly, but once I got the settings tuned to my liking I was able to make use of Rubi’s repertoire. It became a smooth ride (sans previously mentioned bumps) and I really had a good time. I’m under the impression that the sequel announced on the site five years ago has been canceled. It’s a shame as Wet had some fun gameplay, a rocking soundtrack and lots of potential. The kind of potential a sequel could’ve made good use of.
Wet gets a 7.25 out of 10.
Should you dig through the bargain bin for it? Definitely