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Wanted: Weapons of Fate
Graphics: 7.5
Gameplay: 7.7
Sound: 7.5
Control: 8
Replay Value: 6
Rating: 7.7

You know precisely how this review is going to start out. I'm going to talk about how movie-licensed games generally suck and list the very few that didn't. Usually, the practice with such games is that they're released alongside the film they're based on, and very often rushed to make the deadline. The problem is obvious, a rushed game always equates to a flawed and generic one. But Wanted: Weapons of Fate seems to break the mold, as its release comes many months following the release of the movie. So with all of this time in development, were we given a good game? For the most part, yes.

The story follows the events of the movie taking place a few months later, with an emphasis on unraveling past events in the Wanted universe, which includes Wesley's dad Cross, and his mom Alyse. You'll take part in controlling a series of different characters, including Wesley and Cross, in addition to a few others I won't spoil. The game opens up with a brief and basic training lesson, before you're thrown into your first mission. What I like about Wanted is something very few games do, and it's the fact that with progression, you're given more and more abilities to perform.

So, while you do start off with just the ability to shoot and take cover, eventually you'll be given the ability to use your adrenaline bar by curving bullets, and performing Enhanced Quick Movement techniques that'll slow down time and allow you to pick off enemies while your character makes his way to the nearest cover point. The cover system works surprisingly well, allowing for constant movement from one cover point to the next, giving the gamer a fluid feel of things. Shooting is also well done, as the gun play feels solid with every shot.

One of my other favorite aspects of the game is the Assassin Time mode, a mode triggered by an event in which your character cinematically performs certain actions, while you take control of the shooting in slow motion. You'll be required to not just kill your enemies, but also have your bullets collide with the bullets they've shot in order to destroy them. I also like the fact that the game feels much like Gears of War, as do many other third-person shooters these days.

As far as curving bullets goes, you won't be pulling off any flicking controls to trigger these curves, you'll have to settle for pre-determined angles, sort to speak, that you can manipulate with your analog stick. It's a little tricky to explain, but the best way to describe it is it's somewhat close to how you aim grenade throws in certain FPS games, complete with an aiming arc. So when you're taking cover and aiming, you'll be able to adjust this arc. When the arc is red, that means you have an obstacle in the way that'll block the bullet from a hit. When it is white, your path is clear, but you'll still have to aim successfully at your opponent. You can fire as many as four shots simultaneously, and with that you can either deliver one brutal blow to an enemy, or spread the bullets out and attempt four kills.

So what's not to like about Wanted, then? Well, for starters, the gameplay, although fun, does get repetitive and offers little variety. The boss battles are not very good, and are typically the same thing over and over again. Then there's the A.I., which isn't very clever or smart, either, so you never feel like you're given a proper challenge. Lastly, a game like this would've been really cool with some multiplayer modes, but alas, we are given no such thing, and the incredibly short five/six hour single-player experience puts an anchor on the game's value and gameplay. Shame.

The graphics engine here isn't bad, but it's implementation of Nvidea's PhysX doesn't seem the least bit noticeable. Dead bodies twist and distort for no reason, often times twitching around, on top of getting frozen mid-animation. Sure, the environment deforms nicely, but it's nothing I haven't seen before and done better (see: Killzone 2). Character detail is pretty good, and the overall visual picture is nice and clean, with acceptable texture detail. The lighting can get a little crazy sometimes, washing out your reticule, but the way it glistens on the textures is a pretty sight. Thankfully the framerate maintains for the most part, only cracking on small occasions here and there. And the 720p picture is free of ugly image problems.

Notable voice actors provide their talents to the game, but unfortunately Jolie and Freeman do not lend themselves to the game, and the voice of Wesley isn't that of McAvoy's. But, Common does voice Brummel, Paz Vega voices Araña, Terence Stamp returns as Pekwarsky, Thomas Kretschmann returns as Cross, and Peter Stormare voices The Immortal. Surprisingly, the voice actor for Wesley does a pretty good job, with a few cheesy quips here and there, but nevertheless a good job. The soundtrack can get annoyingly repetitive, and it'd have been nice to have a custom soundtrack option since the in-game offerings are so slim. Lastly, the sound effects, while decent, can stand to have been a bit better - the gun shots sound good, but other things can feel drowned out, at times.

To conclude, Wanted: Weapons of Fate is not a bad game. It's most crippling flaw is that it's too expensive for something that only lasts a few hours. No multiplayer and a short solo experience makes it hard to justify a $60 purchase. And even though the A.I. is bland and repetition is high, there is no denying that it's still a pretty fun game and at a lower cost, it's certainly worth the price of admission. Give this one a try in a few months when the price tag is a bit cheaper, or at least give it a rent, there's definitely some fun to be had here.

3/26/2009   Arnold Katayev