One of the more pleasant surprises in the way of movies last year for me was Wanted. Admittedly I have never read the comics, nor do I claim to be a fan now because of the movie, but it was a fun popcorn-romp that had me glued to the action from start to finish. It was inevitable that a movie containing so much action (and a cool new gimmick to exploit) would garner a videogame adaptation. Along comes Wanted: Weapons of Fate, from the talented developers at GRIN, and most importantly the project is headed by Pete Wanat, who is one of the few developers to create movie-based games that don’t suck. His works include The Thing, Scarface and probably the most popular Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. With a résumé like that it is nearly impossible not to get excited about the possibilities of a game based on this property.
Fans of the comic will not be pleased to hear that Weapons of Fate continues to follow the story of the movie as opposed to the source material. From what I have read a lot of liberties were taken when translating the original comic into a movie. One thing that comic fans will appreciate is that Wesley finally dons the suit from the graphic novels inherited from his father. This is generally where the comparisons to the comic end, so if you were not too big on the movie, the concept here will likely be less appealing as it follows that as opposed to the original narrative.
Basically you will spend your time rotating between Cross and Wesley, and to be honest there is little difference between them. The story takes place both before and after the movie (which should be obvious if you have seen it) and shows you the origins of Wesley as well as what transpired following the credits of the feature film. The story is told well thanks to the fact that switching between each character usually coincides with major plot developments. When Wesley learns something in the present, you are generally shown the events leading up to it with Cross. It is an interesting take on the action genre, and plenty entertaining granted you are not on the internet complaining about all the reasons the comic was better than the movie.
As you can imagine Weapons of Fate is designed as a cover shooter that introduces a few gimmicks to spice up the gameplay. For starters just like in the movie you can curve your bullets to take down enemies behind various obstructions. For the most part this works extremely well, not to mention adding a new dynamic to the formula. You simply hold the right bumper on the controller to display your shot arc. The line will auto-lock onto the enemy in range, and you can move the arc until it turns white, which means you have a clear shot. Every now and then you will get to follow the bullet directly into the enemy for maximum satisfaction. This simple new effect makes taking enemies down with style feel second nature by the end of the game.
As you progress you will also gain access to a few other tricks that will help you in your quest. The first is a slow motion move that gives you a chance to take down multiple foes while traversing from cover to cover. This move was easily my favorite simply because it was so satisfying to pop three head shots while moving from one spot to the next and then having time speed back up just in time to watch all the enemies fall to the ground. It was also extremely helpful when you are pinned down and the crossfire simply doesn’t let up. Finally in addition to bullet curving your characters will also obtain exploding bullets that can wipe out multiple foes upon curving them. This action requires to adrenaline bars, but is worth it because of the range and damage it delivers.
Speaking of the adrenaline bars this is what drives all of your special moves within the game. Each enemy you take down will provide you with either one or two depending on their difficulty, and your style. By the end of the game you will earn four slots to build up, with most moves requiring two; thankfully if you manage to take down multiple foes with one special move you will earn them back without concern. The only real disappointment is a clear lack of weaponry. There are literally like four guns in the game, and you never have an option as to which one you are carrying. There are sniper sections and turret areas, but you will never be able to choose your weapon layout during the course of the game.
The cover system is easily what makes the game, which is a good thing because it is truly where you will spend the bulk of your time. Instead of simply moving from one spot to the next ala Gears of War, you can move between cover more efficiently with the tap of a single button. This is crucial for getting a better angle at some enemies. You can also implement the slow-mo cover move or simply curve bullets around pillars to take out hiding enemies. Nearly everything in the game is performed from the safety of cover, making this more about planning your moves, than perfecting your aim.
All of this combines to make a moderately entertaining shooter, but there are a few hitches that drain the enjoyment. For starters the movie may actually be longer than the game. Granted your first time through, watching all the cut scenes and digging around for hidden items might take you around four hours to complete (yes that is a slow run through), but successive play-throughs after that will be over before you blink. The other thing that really drags the title down is the visuals. I am certainly not expecting top-tier on every title now, but I do have some standards. The cut scenes on Xbox 360 are simply unbearable. Chock full of screen tearing and abhorrent resolution (thanks compression) making them painful on the eyes.
Once you barrel through the main game there are some unlockables that make trekking back through it a bit more enjoyable. Challenges such as Headshot Mode and Close Combat Mode really change the mechanics of the gameplay, while unlockable skins allow you to mix up the scenery on successive plays. None of these alter the story portion of the game, so they are merely cosmetic, but at least it gives you something unlike most other titles out there. However, the coolest thing to toy around with are the cheats, which give you one-hit kills, infinite ammo and of course infinite adrenaline allowing you to breeze through the game with style. Take note though if you are playing on Xbox 360 these cheats will disable Achievements, so playing through on Killer difficulty with infinite health is more for novelty than earning e-peen points.
Wanted: Weapons of Fate is not a terrible game by any means; in fact it has a lot of cool gimmicks that are executed fairly eloquently. The problems arise when you realize the game is able to be finished within one sitting and there really is no reason to go back through outside of unlocking some Gamerscore. If ever a game warranted a rental it would be Weapons of Fate, but if you are looking for a unique take on the cover mechanic, and enjoyed the over-the-top action of the film you will likely enjoy the short stint that is Wanted. Everyone else would be satisfied with a weekend rental.