I had heard a lot about WET before, how the demo was annoying, the "quick time event" was pointless, bullet time on every shot take. But people liked it. So, I contacted Bethesda to see if we could check out what they were talking about. The obliged, I played, and with an unbiased gamer thumb, I enjoyed it.
The role of the woman in videogames has been a mixed blessing. You have your overly-sexed characters that look like they've been created by under-sexed teenage boys. You know the ones: Lara Croft. The Onechanbara chicks. The Soul Calibur babes. Mind you, that doesn't make a bad game, it's just an observation. Enter Rubi Malone, voiced by Eliza Dushku (you know, the girl who was sitting on the harrier jet in True Lies?). Yes, her belly is showing, yes her pants are really tight, and yes there are some sexual themes in this game, and the title of the game even conjures up sex. But she plays different than many characters. She's the tomboy who dresses like a tomboy, with a bit of woman thrown in for good measure. And she cusses up a storm. She's the anti-Lara Croft, who would "politely dispatch enemies while fetching treasure". Rubi would be more likely to say "Pay me, mother f*cker, and don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out." Needless to say, she's one tough broad. Rubi could have been named Maxine Pain.
Tranquil Asian garden theme + Chaos
After blowing through the first mission, which is a tutorial on to Rubi's abilities, and fighting through a hectic semi-quick time event car chase- which is both high speed and awesome to behold (the music alone will get your adrenaline pumping)- you get to the meat of the story. Rubi is approached by William Ackers, voiced by the ever-capable Malcolm McDowell, and flanked by the killers Ze Kollektor and Tarantula, and hired to hunt his son, Trevor, down, and bring him back home. Seems Trevor has gotten out of control, even for an arch-criminals family. That's the story, more or less, and it does take your expectedly unexpected turns, double crosses, triple crosses, etc..
How does it play?
The game plays like an interactive movie from the 1970s, with controls only slightly tighter than Rubi's pants. You can scale buildings, cliffs, fire escapes with the agility of Lara Croft, and you can jump into a room full of "bozos" and open fire like Max Payne. sort of what you would expect Quentin Tarantino to do in a videogame. There's unbelievable violence, four letter words spliced together, a great style to the different areas, and overly offensive stereotypes of characters. The Asian guys get some of the worst of it. Missing from it is the witty banter that Tarantino injects into his movies- but this is a videogame. Sure there's banter and talking, and it sounds good, but I did find myself disinterested in what they were saying.
The game on SDtv is letterboxed, and there is artifacting and clipping like what you might see in an old drive in theater, and it works very well. Between some chapters you will be treated to some of the old drive in movie clips: "Go to church and be good to your community", "Come have a hot dog at the snack bar!", "Please remove the speakers from your window before you drive away", and so on. Though I've never heard of "Chilly Dilly Pickles" before.
As you go on in the game, you will be able to upgrade your abilities and weapons. Want more bullets? Use your points earned on the levels to upgrade them. Not strong enough? Do better, do more acrobatic kills and moves, pop out some headshots, kill many at once, you're score will get higher, and you can upgrade stronger. Cool, but difficult to complete all of the upgrading, I'm still working at it, almost 3 weeks later! I've finished the game, but finishing everything off to get every single achievement for this game seems like a chore. There are also monkey toys hidden on levels, 5 on each, that will unlock an achievement and get you more points. They look like those creepy smiling monkeys with the clanging cymbals. I've found a bunch of the monkeys, but I still have found less than half of them! Sometimes in my search my eyes would glaze over, and I'd have to grab a round of Pac-Man or something to keep me from going berserk. They're not as numerous or as tedious as Crackdown's orb-fest, but they can get annoying.
Not only does she live in a world as described, but her "hideout" or headquarters, what have you, is an obstacle course of sorts. What if she just has to take a crap? Does she have to jump on uneven bars and climb a wall to do so? What if she just wants to walk out and get the mail? Take the zip-line? She also will be at her base to learn new abilities and learn how to integrate those abilities with speed through an obstacle course. A nice addition, but it still makes you wonder why the base is so difficult. Then again, you could ask why somebody like Lex Luthor would have morons working for him. It's obvious to him, you can figure it out, but they'll never know why.
There is a Rage Mode, a scripted sequence in the game, where Rubi gets bum-rushed by an assailant, who she dispatches with a shot to the head. The blood covers her face, and she goes bananas. The screen goes from drab old apartment building to blood-red, white, and black, and the music kicks up to an insane notch. As invincible as you feel in these levels, you have to be careful, because you can and will die. I found myself dying the most by not knowing where to go, falling off a ledge, things that should be easy, but sometimes will annoy you in this game. Some of the levels have puzzles, some are easily found and difficult to do, some are difficult to find but you end up doing anyway, sometimes without knowing (the train warehouse). I was in one level for a few minutes, with no targets to shoot, I thought, but one guy was hiding behind a support beam, and he was being really careful up until the point I shot him in the face.
Rubi also has Bullet Time, almost every time you kill. This slows things down and allows you to think. It may seem a bad idea, but as you play through you realize in some areas the bullet time is helpful, sometimes necessary, to allow you to kick some ass. Another ability Rubi has is walking on walls, also a nod to the Matrix, which, again, is cool, but sometimes you will be unaware to where you have to go, specifically, towards the end in the Warehouse Battle. Floor slides are yet another ability she has, which allows her to slide under obstacles while shooting bad guys at the same time. A cool ability is Rubi Vision, that will make ledges glow red as you hold down the button so you can see where you have to go, which is very helpful. I don't know if that was in the plans before they started making the game, or realized it might be a good idea to have some help for certain areas where you will feel lost.
A Sunday Stroll at the Carnival (above)
Her arsenal is not extensive but does its job: swords, pistols, shotguns, submachine guns. The most important use for the swords seems to be opening doors, as Rubi doesn't use doorknobs and assumes every door is locked, and needs to be sworn at. The pistols will be used a lot, especially for shooting the bottle of Jack Daniels that she just drank which, ironically, ups her health! She's got pretty much everything a seasoned killer needs. Something else a seasoned killer needs, shooting gallery rooms! Rubi will sometimes find herself surrounded by goons, pouring in from doors that Rubi needs to block off, and finish off all of the enemies remaining stuck in the room (or area) with Rubi. These levels are crazy, as more and more enemies pop out and start shooting. There was one level in a ruined apartment building where Rubi commandeered a mounted gatlin gun, and guys started pouring out on multiple levels, and she said "Just like a shooting gallery!" Absolutely right, Rubi, and with lots of targets. Sorry, no Kewpi Doll prize!
The Final Boss Battle cannot be explained without spoilers, let's just say, it's a bit of a downer. It might annoy you this is how it ends for Rubi's first adventure. So, here's another picture of Rubi striking a very striking pose:
The gameplay is solid, and feels like what I hoped Onechanbara would have been. They are both good games in their own respect, but I believe WET does it better on all counts and by multiples of 10. It doesn't get as tedious as Onechanbara gets, and where you will see similar graphics and enemies, you are going into new areas to carry out your massacres. The graphics aren't perfect, but the style of the game utilizes the graphics to insert you into that re-imagined 1970s Kung-Fu shoot'em up chop-socky flick. With some frustrating parts and what may fell to you like cheap kills (maybe some are, but face it- cheap kills just mean you're not as good as you think you are, unless you're playing MegaMan or some online Halo) and an ending that will leave you wanting more (both in a good and a bad way), this game will entertain you, and just wait until you are battling it out over the skies in the midst of a debris field after the plane you are travelling in explodes. This game comes highly recommended by the Four Tokens crew- plus you can get it at a good price at the Einstein & Pencil Shavings Money Eating Super Machine of Doom! Be warned: there is a chance this game will piss you off. And Tarantula, I'm coming to get you!
Until the sequel arrives, enjoy this game. WET is good, wholesome, ultra-violent fun.
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