Video Game Review: Ultra-Violent ‘Wet’ Provides Jolt That Wears Off With Repetition

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CHICAGO – Bethesda Softworks’ “Wet” is a sloppy wet kiss to the cinema of the grindhouse as filtered through Quentin Tarantino’s love affair with it. The game plays not so much as an ode to B-movie thrills but to the way that QT interprets them. Clearly (and admittedly) inspired by “Kill Bill,” “Wet” is an often-fun but also often-frustrating shooter with style to spare but not as much substance as one would hope. Video Game Rating: 3.5/5.0
Video Game Rating: 3.5/5.0

In “Wet,” you play Rubi, a nearly superhuman killer who has apparently mastered the art of running and gunning. With one push of the button, Rubi is airborne and everything slows to bullet-time. While the game autolocks on one opponent with one of your guns, you shoot the other one, John Woo style, because if you have two hands, why not shoot two guns? Pistols, shotguns, SMGs, and even crossbows. Rubi unleashes some righteous firepower.

Photo credit: Bethesda Softworks

And bullets are only one of Rubi’s weapons. She’s also got a nasty sword that can be used in acrobatic slo-mo attacks on literally hundreds of personality-less enemies. Like Uma Thurman’s The Bride, Rubi (as voiced by Eliza Dushku) is righteously angry and able to unleash instant death as quickly as she drops f-bombs.

Photo credit: Bethesda Softworks

The carnage in “Wet” is downright epic and it’s impossible to deny the visceral glee often garnered by mowing down wave after wave villain in increasingly creative ways. In fact, “Wet” rewards creativity with points that can be used to upgrade Rubi’s physical abilities or her weapons.

Some rooms feature villains that spawn until you close the doors that they emerge from and empty the room of enemies. These arenas play almost like skate parks, as the player is encouraged to swing on bars, climb ledges, and do increasingly acrobatic things while they aim a shotgun at their enemy’s head.

When Rubi isn’t unleashing fury at the end of a barrel or a blade, she’s either climbing the side of buildings like something out of “Prince of Persia” or is participating in some extended cinematic sequences where the player basically just has to hit the right face button at the right time for the action to continue. The first, a car chase, is exhilarating but, admittedly, not exactly that challenging.

Discerning readers may notice that we’re this far into the review and very little has been mentioned about the plot. Despite the involvement of Dushku, Alan Cumming, and Malcolm McDowell, the plot of “Wet” is a disappointing hodge-podge of reasons to put chain guns in drug dealer’s hands. It’s never captivating enough, either on a B-movie thrill level or as something truly interesting. The writers forgot that Tarantino writes some pretty damn good dialogue to go with his carnage.

Photo credit: Bethesda Softworks

And carnage truly is the word. “Wet” got repetitive around hour three and by the time I got near the end of the game, I was dreading the next arena or, even worse, the rage sequences where Rubi goes red and literally just annihilates black-and-white enemies. When “Wet” actually slows down a bit, it’s a beautiful-looking game (although I would recommend turning off the first-clever-then-annoying graphical trick that makes the picture look like an old, scratchy movie). Rubi has been expertly created, moving smoothly from wall to ledge to the groin of a poor schmuck meeting the business end of her sword. The graphics are actually the best reason to play “Wet”. It looks great.

I just wish it played a little more diversely. When you’ve played “Wet” for about two hours, you’ve really seen all of its tricks. The weapons change and the arenas get a bit more challenging, but the game is undeniably repetitious. It’s practically inherent in its design. And the lack of multiplayer limits the overall replayability of the title.

There’s also a frustrating bit of inconsistency to the fighting structure. You’re encouraged to use the environment, but hardly ever really can, except for the occasional chandelier. Ledges that you should be able to scale can’t be used and the damage you inflict on a victim seems virtually random with a shooting system that’s very hard to predict. Basically, the strategy in “Wet” is more, More, MORE. You have no limit to ammo on your pistols and don’t even have to worry about reloading. Just fire away.

Ultimately, “Wet” is a mixed bag. Imagine a fun, clever, two-hour game that then repeats six times over. Would you love to play what worked for those two hours over and over again or would you long for something new? How you answer that question should determine whether or not you get “Wet”.

‘Wet’ was released by Bethesda Softworks and developed by A2M. It is rated M (Mature). The version reviewed was for the PS3, but the title is also available for the XBox 360. It was released on September 15th, 2009. content director Brian Tallerico

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