Wet is an action game fronted by an admittedly badass lead character. Its grindhouse, cult-cinema vibe sets it apart from any other recent action title, and it has more slow-motion, twin-pistol gunplay than anything this side of John Woo's Stranglehold. It's a game that's trying very hard to be awesome, but can this tough girl make the cut?
Wet's story is inspired by '70s exploitation flicks, or at least Quentin Tarantino's interpretation of the genre. The lead, Rubi, is the type of person that doesn't sweat a few dead bodies when there's a fat paycheck involved. You'll kill people, collect briefcases, get double crossed, and go out for revenge. Not a bad recipe, but it's too much of a mess to be genuinely interesting. The huge cast of bizarre personalities falls flat with little or no character development, and while the writing is campy, it feels forced. It isn't quite bad enough to be good, but it is bad enough to be entertaining at points.
Action games don't get much more straightforward than Wet. You're signing up for the duration of one story, broken up into 12 chapters, and several tons of carnage over six to eight hours. Beating the game unlocks challenge mode, which lets you play through isolated sections of the levels for more points or better times. But when all is said and done, you can experience everything Wet has to offer in one playthrough.
The game is all about showing off its unique style, but it actually borrows some very established--possibly even retro--action elements. You hack glowing skulls to close enemy-generating doors, visibly rack up points for every kill, and jump through flaming rings for score multipliers. You're here to kill people, and Wet is all about making you look cool while you do it.
Efficiently killing enemies earns you points which you spend to expand Rubi's acrobatic arsenal and power up her weapons, but the process isn't entirely satisfying. Many of the moves you unlock simply aren't that useful, or feel like abilities you should have had in the first place, like attacking from the air with your sword or shooting while sliding down a zipline.
Upgrading your arsenal also feels underwhelming. As you progress through the game, enemies gradually take more and more punishment before they go down. This means it's necessary to improve your weapons, but they never really feel much more powerful.
Regardless of how you upgrade Rubi, Wet gives you a variety of options with which to approach its physics and logic-defying acrobatic combat system.
Rubi is the kind of girl that spends a lot of time on her knees...the reason being so she can slide across the floor while firing pistols or get a good angle for stabbing a guy in the crotch. She spends an equal amount of time in the air, for basically the same reasons.
If you're leaping, sliding, or doing something else vaguely acrobatic, pulling the trigger sends you into slow motion. You're always packing two guns, and one will lock onto an enemy while you manually aim the second. If you kill someone while not in slo-mo, odds are you're doing it wrong. It can look a little bit ridiculous at times, but it does have moments where it looks fairly awesome.
When you're not shooting, jumping and sliding are kind of awkward. The game is completely built around setting yourself in motion and then using precise aim to do some damage. You'll typically move from room to room taking on large numbers of enemies and stopping when they're all dead. While killing enemies in slow-motion is fun, the game falls into a repetitive pattern that consists of little more than room-clearing. Quick-time events come into play on occasion, but they're poorly integrated into the action.
The game does try for variety, but quickly runs out of tricks. An exciting car chase sequence where Rubi fights her way from car to car on a busy highway is one of the high points of the game. Huge Gatling guns are bolted down at strategic locations to help you let off steam, and every so often you'll get blood on your face, and everything goes red, which tweaks the scoring system and grants a slightly different view to your kills. Still, these same elements are repeated throughout the game and soon become predictable.
Given its relatively short length, Wet manages to barely squeak by with its limited repertoire. But it's unlikely that its paint-by-numbers approach will hold your interest beyond a single run through the game.
Wet puts a lot of effort into creating a memorable presentation. The cult cinema flavor is poured on strong, with a freakish cast of characters, extreme acts of violence, and random intermission scenes that look like they were hauled out of some ancient celluloid vault. There's actually a film grain filter that gives the entire production a roughshod vintage feel, but it may drive you a little crazy. If that's the case, you can turn it off in the options menu. The music could be the most distinctive element of the game, with strangely mixed and vaguely psychotic tunes that give the action a little bit more kick.
While you have to respect the game's conscious attempt to do its own thing, it struggles a bit with its technical performance. Characters and environments can come across as a bit lifeless, and animations, particularly where ladders are concerned, are rough. While they may be far from perfect, Wet's production values are least memorable.
Wet has some good ideas, but it falls just short of being a good game. Like its aesthetic, the game feels slightly dated and rough around the edges. If you don't take it too seriously, you could potentially have some fun with it. Just don't look too closely. Like a B-movie, this one doesn't stand up to close scrutiny.
Reviewed on Microsoft Xbox 360.