What we liked:

+ Great sense of style
+ Mindless fun
+ Superb presentation

What we didn't like:

- Lacking depth and substance
- Can be repetitive

DEVELOPER: A2M   |   PUBLISHER: Bethesda   |   RELEASE: 09/15/2009

This girl is more style than substance.

Wet is the kind of game that reminds you of a summer blockbuster movie. It is mindless, repetitive and lacking in substance, but it still manages to be a lot of fun. The mindless shooting and slow-motion acrobatics feel evocative of Midway’s Stranglehold. The difference comes from the noir style inspired by films such as Grindhouse, complete with film grain and plenty of cheesy interludes. When you combine the over-the-top acrobatics and slick gunplay you get a package that makes up for what it lacks in substance with buckets of style.

The game stars badass, crude-talking Rubi Malone. As Rubi players will rub elbows with drug dealers, shady businessmen and plenty of mindless thugs in a plot that throws itself together like it was pieced together on the cutting room floor. Nothing seems to fit outside of the fact that Rubi is out to shed plenty of blood, and she will stop at nothing to accomplish this goal. Cut scenes are entertaining, and presented in a fashion that truly keeps you interested enough not to skip them. This is further enforced by the performances by Eliza Dushku and Malcolm McDowell.

The core game is broken down into different segments that all focus on action. At the forefront is the traditional third-person shooting. Here the game plays like every other shooter with the addition of stylistic combat and acrobatic maneuvers. When you trigger any of these sequences the game slows down to let you enjoy the kill. For instance whenever you jump and begin to fire the game auto-aims at one target, allowing you to manually aim at another for maximum bloodshed. The shooting works, but it works much better when performing style kills. As a standard shooter the game feels loose and quirky, like the design was to have you play in slow-motion through the majority of the experience.

The second mode that plays a large role are the combat rooms. These work the same as the traditional combat, but you are sealed off in a room with endless thugs until you seal off all of the spawn points. In these rooms your health will regenerate if you manage to find solace somewhere, and there are style point multipliers scattered about to allow you to rack up massive points to upgrade, more on that in a bit. These rooms feel more like a controlled version of the main game, but still break up the monotony just enough to keep things fresh.

The final piece of the gameplay puzzle comes in the form of rage mode. This is preceded by Rubi wasting someone at point blank range and splattering blood across her face. The screen takes on a tint of red and some crazy music begins playing. The visual style is reminiscent of Killer 7 for the Gamecube, and all the enemies appear as the same two-colored model and the idea is to rack up massive kills in style. All three modes really feel exactly the same with a few tweaks, but there are highlights such as the highway chase scene that really enforce the popcorn-inspired movie feel.

As you progress through the game you can upgrade Rubi’s abilities by using the points you earn by performing stylistic kills. You can upgrade your both Rubi’s abilities as well as your weapons. Things such as ammo count and health upgrade are standard but a lot of them feel useless. For instance there is no reload button so increasing ammo count does little outside of keeping you from instantly switching weapons during slow-mo action. Other upgrades feel like they were added simply to have more things to upgrade. Being able to shoot from ledges and poles are offered up in the hint menu, so why should I have to spend upgrade points to obtain them? This further enforces the repetition and once you have seen every move Rubi has, you will likely find your favorite and spam it the rest of the game.

The rest of the game combines the traditional gunplay with a bit of swords and crazy platforming. Unfortunately this is where the game shows its biggest faults. Sometimes there are jumps and areas where trying to figure out where to go and somehow making the leap without falling to your death can prove frustrating. Thankfully these areas are not common, and most of the game is spent mowing down countless waves of enemies. There are also the quintessential button press events, which spill over into the boss battles. This makes the one-on-one encounters a little disappointing and really drives home this game was designed as a shooting gallery.

Once you barrel through the single-player game there is quite a bit to keep you coming back. For starters like every other game imaginable there are collectibles, though in this game they come in the form of monkeys. There are usually five per level, and some of them are tricky to find. Rubi also has a training ground that has various challenges that earn you medals for completion time. My favorite extra though is the Golden Bullets mode. Here every bullet you fire is an instant kill, but Rubi also takes more damage than usual. This creates a frenetic atmosphere that makes the game feel like a speed run. You are constantly moving from one enemy to the next trying to kill them before they get a shot off.

Visually the game relies on its cinematic presentation to shine. The actual engine looks fine, but it also isn’t anything to write home about. What I did love was the way cut scenes are over exaggerated and flashy. The film grain effect was nice for a while, but once I figured out you could turn it off in the options filter I simply couldn’t go back. It is novel, but aesthetically unnecessary. There are frame drops during intense action, but never anything that hinders gameplay, the camera however, is another story. There were times when it would swing around and cause me to miss jumps because it thought it was giving me the best angle. This only happens when it decides to have a mind of its own; the rest of the time was not an issue.

The music is perfect for the game. The classic guitar tunes and upbeat tempos do a fantastic job of setting the mood. I also love how the music changes for each increasingly intense scenario. The voice work is also noteworthy, even if it is minimal and chock full of profanity. Sure the dialogue is cheesy, hearing lines that usually begin, end or contain the f-word could be considered poor writing, but for the style here it actually fits. The performances by Eliza Dushku and Malcolm McDowell stand out, but nearly all the main characters are entertaining in that cheesy popcorn-movie way.

Wet is exactly what it claims to be and nothing more. The action is intense, repetitive and predictable, but it is also highly entertaining. I had a great time playing through the story mode, but with so much repetition it may be hard to recommend shelling out $60 for this one-dimensional experience. However, if you love action games and don’t mind the straight forward approach I guarantee you will find plenty to enjoy here. As long as you take it at face value Wet will not disappoint. I highly recommend the game for anyone who enjoys cheesy dialogue, stylistic action, and just a good old-fashioned good time.

Ken McKown

Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.

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