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WET Demo (PS3)

August 25, 2009 1 comment

You can tell from the title alone that “Wet” is supposed to be pure over-the-top gunwank. Okay, so maybe that’s not the first thing the title makes you think of, especially with the super-hot protagonist Rubi right next to it, but still, that’s what it’s supposed to be: a game based on the old Grindhouse style movies that used to make Quentin Tarantino have orgasms. And I’ve had an interest in “Wet” since I found out not only that, but that the game mixes acrobatics, gunplay and swords.

And the demo managed to make me lose a lot of my excitement. I’m not wet anymore, just slightly damp.

(har har fucking har)

The demo opens with Rubi spying on a meeting wherein one of the participants, Simmons, has a case that belongs to her, as she subtly tells us while pretending to talk to herself. She literally crashes into the party through the glass ceiling and a tutorial starts.

First thing I noticed: unless she’s sliding across the floor, somersaulting or running on walls, Rubi’s shooting sucks. You’d think doing any of that would make her aim worse, but strangely if she’s standing still her gun might as well shoot feathers. However, start hopping around and not only she shoots quicker (while in slow-motion, paradoxically), she draws another gun that aims automatically. The message is clear: fuck strategy. Your job is to kill people as stylishly as possible. I can dig that. Or I could, if it was well-done.

Remember “Stranglehold”? It suffered from a shitty story, uneven gameplay and several little problems that added up to an irregular game — one of the things that bothered me was the enemies’ death animations. You shot them in the face and they’d clutch their throats, or their eyes (despite the bullet hole being quite visibly on their foreheads) and take half a minute to drop dead. In “Wet”, the death animations are also problematic. The physics are badly-implemented. Enemies don’t seem to have any weight. As opposed to say, the exceptional “Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood”, enemies in “Wet” react exaggeratedly to gunshots (which is perfectly acceptable considering this game is a homage to the grindhouse style), but the physics make them flop like they’re made out of paper.

What’s more, enemies get drenched in blood as soon as they die. This transition is not done smoothly. Shoot them and they’ll look pristine until the moment their health runs out, and suddenly they look like an extra from a George Romero film. In fact, blood is, ironically, another problem in “Wet” — it splatters on walls, but the blood spurt from the gunshots is underwhelming (when the grindhouse style dictates it has to be exactly the opposite) and your guns seem to have very little impact on the enemy.

The swordplay is very simple: press square until everything dies. Again, though, the physics get in the way and the dismemberment seems like an afterthought, considering all I could hack off were forearms.

There are also some arcadey elements that simply didn’t ring well with me, like a set piece where you have to close three “spawn doors” (doors that, if not closed, will keep vomiting enemies at you) to get past an area and keep chasing the asshole who has your case.

But the worst part of the demo is, easily, the one that showcases Rubi during pissed-off-mode or whatever it’s called. Maybe, considering the title, pre-menstrual tension mode, but I might be murdered by feminists if I insist on that. The whole screen is drenched in shades of red and the only white thing is the blood. It is so, SO absurdly stylish it forgets to be fun — all you’re doing is slashing at black silhouettes that spill white blood and that pause midway through their death animations and vanish into thin air. I didn’t find it visually compelling at all, let alone enough to make up for the dumbing down of the gameplay (which is normally already dumb).

Speaking of style, the developers don’t seem to have any idea how to walk the fine line between “style” and “gameplay” — “Wet” has a filter that simulates video scratches on the screen like in old films. I fail to see what that accomplishes other than making the game uglier simply to pay a dumb, obvious homage to something that isn’t even a GOOD THING. Tarantino used it in “Death Proof”, but more common-sensical than the developers of “Wet”, he used it on certain moments, not all the damn time.

And finally, we get to a highway chase where Rubi jumps from car to car chasing the one she wants. Again, the developers do an underwhelming job, with the jumping being pre-scripted and executed through those fucking quick-time events. All you can do aside from pressing buttons when prompted is aim and shoot at goons who stick their bodies out of windows WAY more than is necessary to try and shoot you. And their aim is much better than Rubi’s, whose gunplay when riding the roof of a car is just as bad as while standing still — however, leap from one car to the other and suddenly she’s Annie Oakley.

The acrobatics are a mixture of acceptable and clunky. Wall-running is definitely clunky, while sliding and jumping around are acceptable. You can shoot enemies while doing just about anything (the more complicated, the better she shoots), but for all the power your guns have, maybe it’s better to just use the acrobatics to get close to an enemy and sword him to death.

Important to say, though, that except for the awful pre-mens — pissed-off-mode sequence, all you can shoot in this demo are revolvers — which actually shoot like pistols, since they never need to be reloaded. Not that pistols have unlimited ammo, but they don’t need to be reloaded as much as re — oh, shut up, you understood. They are probably twenty-two caliber as well, considering the damage they deal.

While the graphics are decent (too much red and brown used in the color scheme, which make the violence seem tame since there is no contrast between the blood and everything else), the soundtrack is awesome. This is something they got right, the songs that play during action scenes are engaging and well-chosen.

All in all, “Wet” seems like it can be mildly enjoyable, but not the blast a title featuring swords, guns, acrobatics and hot chicks could be. Let’s see if the complete game has better things to offer.

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