Slip-Slidin' Away

We paint the town red in a little hands-on time with WET.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: August 30, 2009
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After racing through Chinatown on the heels of a thug who backed out of a deal (with a bullet to the head of the other person), we finally got a chance to chase him in a vehicle. Well on a vehicle is more appropriate, really. In a ridiculously insane sequence that had us racing down what was A2M's attempt at replicating the 101/1 freeway that snakes through downtown San Francisco and eventually crosses the Golden Gate Bridge, we had to lay down constant fire on the escaping thug, switch to his goons that would show up regularly... oh, and leap from car to car like the Agents from The Matrix: Reloaded, dodging massive pile-ups and huge explosions. On more than one occasion, Rubi actually lept to and then off of a jackknifing semi, and at one point actually ran along its cargo trailer to squeeze in between more flipping wreckage. We were interested in the game before, but that scene in all its quick time event/guns-blazing glory was finally the tipping point. We wanted more.

Luckily, we got it -- if only a little. The game finally rolled through a title sequence, illustrating the voice actors and licensed bands that provided the music during shootouts, which slowly segued into a bit of training in Rubi's native Texas. Taking place in an abandoned plane graveyard/junk yard, we tried out a handful of challenges, including a time trial and a mounted turret section before jumping ahead a little to get a sense of what the game would do later on.

What started on a gently lapping shoreline quickly became quite a bit more explosive -- literally. Though the beach seemed rather pristine, the soft glow of dozens of blinking red lights was made deadly obvious as a seagull landed on the sand... and was quickly blown to smithereens by a hidden mine. We had to make use of some careful jumps and wall runs to avoid the buried threats (though we died more than a few times thanks to the slightly clunky controls that taught us (though more than a little error rather than trials) to use Rubi's wall running ability to scale vertical surfaces as well as run along them. Leaving the beach, we switched to quite a bit of vertical traversal. In a nod to the Prince of Persia series, we ran along outcroppings, hopped back and forth between hand and footholds and eventually used a dilapidated lighthouse and broken bridge as a ladder to get to a run-down castle that held another series of gunfights.

This arena battle was lengthy, but still quite fun, and using the shotguns we picked up upon completing our training back at the plane graveyard Rubi called home, we were able to make short work of the scads of enemies that came pouring into the staircase-littered room. There was just a bit of exploration at work here too, and more than one instance of a puzzle that forced us to slide toward a closed door and then, in slo-mo, hit two switches with gunfire to raise the gate and slip through before it closed. It was a slick, simple little sequence and made us feel rather badass in the process. Another series of hallways and an arena battle down and we had to take on a chaingun-wielding mini-boss, though we made judicious use of our slo-mo slides, dives and the few remaining shotgun shells we had left to take him down.

What started as an apprehensive look at a game that most will probably write off as a Max Payne or Stranglehold clone quickly started to show flourishes of inspiration from elsewhere. Though we're still not totally sold on the controls, the gunplay and Rubi's moves made for some seriously awesome slo-mo battles, and the ability to lock onto two different targets does indeed make the game feel different enough to stand on its own. The whole-hearted embracing of grindhouse aesthetics and Rubi's sass (and, yes, sexiness) all seemed to add up to something that was more special than the sum of its parts. With only a couple more weeks to go before WET hits the PS3, we're keeping our fingers crossed that our limited hands-on time with the game stays as fresh and entertaining when plowing through the full game.
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