Hands On: WET
Going into my hands on demo for WET, I was a little apprehensive. When the game was first announced over two years ago, it was looked at as a rather generic shooter with nothing helping the game stand out in any way. Along the way, A2M had to deal with their publisher, Sierra, dropping them after the Activision purchase. But, WET has come out of her seclusion, with a new style, and a new publisher, Bethesda. We sat down with Ash Ismail, Lead Game Designer on WET, who gave us a four stage playthrough of all the different aspects of the game.
WET is all about style. It has taken the idea of the old Grindhouse cinema and the films that played in these theaters, and brought it to the game world. While you play WET, you will notice film grain on the screen and the occasional burn mark in the film. The music has a very 70′s feel to it, and works to the moves that are on the screen. Even when you are nearing the death of your character, the screen starts to clip and melt, like a film reel when it reaches the end of the spool. A2M has gone to the Tarantino school of 70′s culture, and they have done so with great results.
The first thing we were introduced to was the main character of WET, Rubi, a hard-nosed wetworks agent. For the uninitiated, wetworks is a reference to someone that cleans up situations that have gone bad, and these situations normally end up with bloodshed, hence the name wetworks. Think Mr. Wolfe in Pulp Fiction, except with more guns and blood.
Our playthrough started with a tutorial level that showed us all the different maneuvers that you could pull off with Rubi in the world. Rubi had a standard jump move and shooting, she also has a nifty little slide move, so when you pressed a button on the controller, she would drop to her knees and slide across the floor. She also packs two handguns and a sword to fight off the numerous bad guys that you will end up encountering. So as I started playing, I got the first mechanic that came into play, which is the slow motion camera if you shoot while jumping or sliding.
Any time you initiate a slide of a jump while shooting, the game slows down the action, allowing you to really get a bead on the bad guys. There is no limit to the slow motion, and it automatically kicks into play as you shoot in the air or skidding across the floor. At first, I thought this would make the game too easy to play, but when you start to get swarmed by dozens of foes at once, slowing the action down a bit, gives the player time to assess the biggest threat and focus on it.
Rubi packs dual pistols as default weapons, and using them is fairly easy. Any time you enter a slow motion sequence and there is more than one bad guy on screen, the engine in WET will target one foe automatically, while the player manaully aims at the other enemy. It was a bit tricky to control at first, because you are jumping and sliding while trying to aim and shoot, but after a short period, the controls became very intuitive, leaving me the enjoyment of ripping enemies to shreads by the bucketloads.
After going through the whole tutorial, we finally get our first taste of uncontrolled action in what Ash called, an Arena moment. At points in the game, you will walk into an area where enemies start to flood their way in, attacking Rubi. The goal is to cut off the entrances that the foes are using to enter the arena area. In the sequence presented, we walked into a small market square where we had three entrances that bad guys were flowing in from. Each of the entrances is put in a place that makes the player figure out how to get to each closing mechanism. Our three had three fairly straight forward approaches, but as the game becomes more difficult, the mechanisms will take more thought to breatk. To break the mechanisms, you just pull out your sword and whack away.
Now WET is a game about style, and the next level really shows off what A2M is trying to pull off with this title. At the start of the next section, Rubi walked through a door and was confronted by an enemy at point blank range, so she did what most logical people would do, ventilate his skull. The blood from the wound sprayed all over her face, and she entered Rage mode. At this point, the game turned into a silouhetted look, with white hallways, while enemies show up as black outlines and Rubi shows up as a red outline. I am not doing the mode justice, but if you have ever watched the “Band of the 88″ fight sequence in Kill Bill: Volume 1, where the action takes place behind a while paper background, you will get the idea. While you kill enemies in this mode, they will just turn into a cloudy mist, before fading away.
Our last mission looked like an end of level mission, where Rubi has followed her target onto the Golden Gate bridge. This sequence is a mix of Quick time events, and shooting, as we were shooting from the tops of vehicles going down the bridge, while we are trying to attack enemies. We started on the top of a vehicle, shooting at an enemy, when a car spun out in front of us. A quick time event button showed up on the screen, and after hitting it correctly, we jumped to another vehicle, while while still shooting. Yeah, the Quick Time Events happen in engine, and you are still able to shoot while performing the resulting action. It was a nice touch to have some ability to perform an action during a quick time event, and hopefully it is a development that more studios will use.
With the end of the presentation arriving, I have to admit that I was really sucked into the Grindhouse vibe that was present in WET. The action was fast and furious and the character was not oversexed, which was a nice change from the original trailer two years ago. There were still some timing issues and a few minor clipping issues here and there, but overall, WET is starting to shape up as a solid title for Fall 2009. Special thanks to Ash Ismail for giving us the 411 on WET while we played.Tags: a2m, bethesda, grindhouse, kill bill, pulp fiction, quick time events, rubi, slow motion, wet, wetworks