Sunday, October 11, 2009

Guest Blogger InyRules Reviews 'WET' Video Game starring Eliza Dushku

I want to thank the team here at Buffyfest for inviting me to give a review. They are awesome people.

Contrary to popular belief, I did not pick up WET just because it contained the voice acting of Eliza Dushku, although that was a huge plus for me. I first heard of the game looking through Wikipedia’s PS3 games list, and was immediately interested when I found that there was a game being released called “WET” in nice capital letters, with a gun toting female lead. I was then disappointed to learn that the game was on hiatus. A couple months later, I check the list again, and to my delight, the game was once again on its way to a release thanks to publisher Bethesda. I then read that Eliza Dushku had also signed on. The fan girl in me squeaked with glee.

left: Eliza signing one of the posters I received

What the Game Does Well: Developer Artificial Mind & Movement really hit the nail on the head with aesthetics. WET looks and sounds just like a B-list grind house movie from the ‘70s. The film strip that runs through the screen gives the game a very gritty visual. There are even weird ‘70s commercials played in-between the game’s chapters.

Voice acting in WET is superb. Voicing a badass, potty mouthed and sexy character is not a very big stretch for Eliza. Malcolm McDowell and Alan Cumming also receive top honors for their voice work as several of the game’s antagonists. The dialogue is extremely cheesy and sometimes cringe-worthy, but I can’t help but laugh at many of the lines. The hilarious dialogue is not limited to the cut scenes. Main “protagonist” Rubi Malone often engages her enemies in banter during combat. Very. Explicit. Banter. If you’ve ever wanted to hear Eliza Dushku spew the words “You fight like old people fuck; slow and sloppy,” your wish has come true.

The best thing about WET is the soundtrack. The team behind the game went to great lengths to compose a soundtrack that fits seamlessly with the grind house theme. Many times, I found myself singing along and nodding my head to several of the songs while shooting my way through hordes of enemies, and was disappointed when they ended. I even downloaded the songs offered on Bethesda’s official WET site.

What the Game Does Wrong: Well, where do I start? Despite the success of the various grind house themes in the game, they do not compensate for the many faults that will be WET’s undoing for many gamers. I’ll start with the game play. WET is a very linear game, with many of the fights consisting of large “arena battles,” where Rubi must disable multiple “spawn doors” to stop the flow of enemies. Rubi can perform a wide range of acrobatics, which is her primary means of getting around the levels in the game; swinging on poles, jumping from ledge to ledge, sliding under obstacles, wall running, etc. When jumping/wall running/sliding and shooting at the same time, Rubi enters what is called “acrobatic slow-mo,” where everything, as the name suggests, slows down around her, and Rubi has the advantage on her enemies. During this time, Rubi can dual wield her guns, and it is harder for enemies to shoot her. Acrobatics can be chained together to earn more “style points,” which can be used to upgrade Rubi’s acrobatic skills and weaponry.

Now, while the idea of the game play is all well and good, it suffers from the physics engine and controls being very broken. Rubi doesn’t like to listen to what I tell her to do. I want to wall run horizontally to get past a large gaping hole in the floor. Rubi decides to wall run vertically, flip backwards, and fall right into the gaping hole, to which I am then rewarded by death. I am rewarded by death in a lot of my efforts in trying to get Rubi to cooperate. This wouldn’t be such an issue if the load screens weren’t so terribly long. Jumping over said gaping holes is also a feat in itself. If I don’t jump toward a ladder in a perfect straight line, I plummet to my death, as Rubi cannot change the direction she’s looking at mid air. Quick time events while wall running are also a major issue. Many times these events are unresponsive, and cause more plummeting to my death.

While it is fun to dual-wield guns and shoot enemies while running up a wall, the combat becomes very repetitive. I must remain in constant acrobatic slow-mo in order to survive. During battles, I must constantly jump and shoot as to not get pelted with bullets. Jump, shoot. Jump, slide, shoot. Jump, slide, shoot. Rubi’s health regenerates on its own during combat based on her style points multiplier, which goes up to 5x. The higher the multiplier, the faster her health regens, or so they say. Health does not regenerate during slow-mo sequences, so I have to run for cover in order to replenish my health. This becomes a major problem when there are eight spawn doors, and the arena is littered with enemies.

In the easier modes of the game, the sword is very fun to use, even though the development team did not get very creative with it; it’s got that standard hack n’ slash feel. In the harder modes, however, the sword is virtually useless, save for destroying spawn doors. Standing still for more than a second can mean a very fast death, despite upgrading her health to its maximum.

Camera angle issues are also a contributing factor to the broken mechanics of the game. They also contribute much to dying. Often time, the camera makes it very difficult to pin point where Rubi needs to jump to next, which forces me to do a blind jump in the hopes that she grabs onto to something. These spotty angles also make it difficult to see many of the enemies during combat. I usually won’t see them until they’ve bludgeoned me to death.

Despite the nifty film strip that runs through the game, graphics leaves more to be desired. Sometimes the colors become a bit washed out, and it is difficult again to see where you need to go. I had to up the brightness on my TV to see better. It seem s the developers poured all of their pixels on Rubi and some of the bad guys, and used whatever was left to populate the background. I expected more from a “next gen” game.

Bottom Line: WET shines in its visual presentation, but stumbles on game play. Casual gamers will become increasingly frustrated with the often time unfair mechanics, and will probably not want to complete the relatively short game. Hardcore gamers will want to finish the game at least once just to prove it wrong. Despite its drawbacks, WET can be a very fun game to play. “Rage Mode” is particularly entertaining, as the whole screen goes red, and Rubi ups her ass kicking. I give WET a 7/10.

- InyRules, A.K.A Cool Hip from the SSAA Podcast.


D said...

Thanks for the cool review, Iny. I'm getting to the age where I should be growing out of video games, but hey, I haven't. Hope I never do. I'll have to rent this bad boy from the local BB, or maybe even buy it....
Wonder if they'll ever come out with any cool Buffy games for modern consoles? I remember the Buffyfest crew posting something about a Buffy game in Britain or something like that way back when....
Again, awesome post Iny.

Cool Hip [InyRules] said...

Thanks a lot, I'm glad you enjoyed it! I heard rumors of a possible MMO set in the Buffyverse.

I suggest you rent the game first. Going through other reviews, the combat is pretty hit-or-miss with gamers.