WET is one of the many games that were left in tango after the Vivendi-Activision merger. It was cut by Activision, but eventually picked up by Bethesda Softworks, a publisher not known to put out games like WET. Bethesda allowed Artificial Mind and Movement additional time, and delayed the game from its original December 2008 release, to its September 2009 release. And while I'm sure there were numerous advancements and fixes made to the game due to the delay, WET is still missing a plethora of a necessities that really drag down, what could've been, a fairly solid action game with a nice little theme to it. On a rather solid track record, WET is the public urination incident Bethesda will try to forget about and move on.
Now, for starters, creating a female character as a lead in the videogame industry is always either hit or miss. There doesn't seem to be much of an in between. You either become Lara Croft, Nariko (Heavenly Sword), Samus (Metroid), Jill Valentine (Resident Evil), or you miss and become Rayne (BloodRayne) and Vanessa (P.N. 03). You may remember the uninspired vamp-fest that was BloodRayne. But if you're wondering what P.N. 03 was...well, there's a reason why you've never heard of Vanessa ever again - hint: t'was a mediocre GameCube game from Capcom.
The heroine here is Rubi, and the game is called WET. Since day one I've hated the name...nothing says action game like A) being drenched in water, or B) a sexual innuendo. Sure, the game does attempt to explain that "wet" implies blood on your hands, but I'm not quite sure I buy that. Perhaps WET would've been a better suited name for a jet ski game? In any case, to put my digression aside, if you look back at my first preview of the game, I had chimed that the game looked promising. Unfortunately, and we all know how the adage goes, looks can be deceiving.
My optimism and hope for a solid and quick action game quickly turned into disappointment and frustration. By now, every developer out there is supposed to incorporate two very simple functions into any action game dealing with guns: a duck/cover mechanic and an over-the-shoulder perspective for aiming. Now, the actual gameplay does not need to exclusively use the shoulder-perspective, as simply tapping a shoulder button to engage into the mode would suffice, which is a technique many games commonly use today, such as Ratchet and Clank. Lacking a proper aim view makes gun play extremely frustrating and feels detached, even though an aim-assist option helps lock-on to opponents, albeit poorly. Simply put, the gun mechanics in this game are very poorly done and demonstrate little-to-no excitement. And because you can't duck and/or cover, much of your shooting consists of jumping and sliding around endlessly, and enabling a bullet time-esque mode while you're in mid-air or mid-slide. It's totally uninspired, and quite frankly, this game would've been much better off with the two functions above, instead of yet another bullet-time rip off.
The swordplay is equally boring, as you can't switch between sword and gunplay on the fly, like you could in Devil May Cry, the switch is much slower and nowhere as fluid. And with boring enemy A.I. encounters that all feel the same and don't even react uniquely to the strike of your sword or the piercing of your bullets, it only continues to put a bigger damper on the game. Furthermore, sometimes the A.I. can get a bit ridiculous, unloading bullets into you from all over, making it extremely difficult to get through certain portions of the game without sheer luck. There have been a number of times where I found myself restarting an objective numerous times, only to finally beat it with a sliver of life left. There's also no automatically regenerating health mechanic, but rather a regeneration mechanic based on kill multipliers.
WET offers almost no incentive to play or replay the game, as it doesn't even boast any multiplayer offerings. Then again, if it did, it's not like it'd be worth anything, considering the actual gameplay is very poor and uninspired. The game does possess a nice and funky 70s theme, somewhat reminiscent of Fallout 3 and Kill Bill, but beyond that, the overall experience really does not add up to anything worth your time. If you're looking for a solid new action game, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 just hit the shelves.
Visually, the game presents you with an aesthetic filter that's supposed to mimic a movie reel run on a projector, complete with the occasional burn mark, scratch lines, and noise commonly associated with older movies. While the effect is kind of cool, it can be disabled. But that only exposes the faults of the game's less-than-stellar visuals. Character detail, even during the cut-scenes is third-rate stuff. On top of that, as far as variation goes with enemies, there isn't a whole lot of it. Animation could've been done a lot better, and the game has a tendency to perform some really awkward deaths - such as a character's leg getting stuck in a wall, or him wildly flying up into the air from a bullet. The overall presentation is nice, thanks to the theme of the game, and when Rubi enters her enraged state, the color palette changes to red, white, and black.
Voice acting comes complete with an F-bomb, among other swears, every 30-seconds or so. And since the game aims at a B-movie type theme, the voice acting isn't particularly good either. Intentionally or not, it's pretty jarring stuff to listen to occasionally. Furthermore, the rest of the audio lacks any real punch in providing you the sense that you're entangled in a serious action game. Instead, sound effects in WET sounds muffled and not very bright. Lastly, a 70s themed original soundtrack aids the theme by playing in the background, usually during the more hectic moments of the game.
I can see why Bethesda chose to pick up a game like WET as a publisher. It offers diversity for Bethesda, definitely. But at the same time, the gamble is that it's coming from an unproven developer, and as an all new I.P., it has a very small chance of selling well enough for Bethesda to consider it a good pick-up from Activision's table scraps. Bethesda is a company I do love very much, as they've provided gamers with some of the best RPGs of all time, and I do not wish the game maker any ill. So I hope that next time, there is no next time, and Bethesda stays away from publishing something as generic as this.
9/30/2009 Arnold Katayev