Posted by: smirkdirk | March 7, 2010

Some Thoughts On “Wet”

3 out of 5 cookies. Some really good stuff but its got issues.

I really enjoyed Wet – as much as I’m about to begin complaining and whining about it, please keep in mind: I really did enjoy it and really wish I could give it more cookies.

The bad? Well, the graphics, though completely capable, just aren’t quite up to par with what I’ve become accustomed to lately. They’re not bad, in fact, in many ways they’re completely suitable to the game, just not completely detailed, things move choppily. The main character herself, Ruby, often moves in the same way that the character Rayne did in the game “Bloodrayne”, all the way back in 2002.

Okay, let me stop right here. Way back in 2002 I picked myself up a Nintendo Gamecube at the bargain price of $99. Nintendo, having come out on the bottom of the console three-way between itself, Playstation 2 and the original Xbox cut the price of its unit. Up to that point my history with video games had been checkered. I always played them, and even bought a system or two over the years, (I did get the Nintendo 64 on the day of release, only for the still-amazing Mario 64), but I’d always lost interest after a month or two, always wanted more out of games than they were capable of providing.

In the 90’s I completely missed the boat with Playstation 1, which was quite a popular system. I’d played it with friends but was less than impressed, and certainly it wasn’t something I would spend hundreds of dollars on.

Anyway, when I purchased the Gamecube in the early 00’s I went ahead and bought Super Mario Sunshine and the bargain priced Bloodrayne as my two first games for it. (Note: For some reason many Wii owners don’t realize that the Wii also plays every single Gamecube game ever released making for a massive Wii catalog. There are tons of worthwhile Gamecube games, including these two, as well as “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” on which the upcoming summer movie is based that still, 10 years later, play very nicely.) I’d never even heard of Bloodrayne before, but vampires, Nazi’s, and a cut-rate price – heck, I’d give it a try. I finished it in a week. Bloodrayne was actually the first game I’d ever completed outside of the Super Mario games. Not that Bloodrayne is a great game, but it is good, and it is partially responsible for making me a “gamer”. It showed me that finally the technology had caught up to entertainment potential that I always knew video games had.

The game that created the nerd I’ve been for the last 10 years!

Although Wet and Bloodrayne have very little in common other than a female lead, the choppiness of Wet’s character motion gave me flashbacks to the Bloodrayne game, but even more telling, to that earlier system.

On to the controls; Wet seemingly steals its entire control and schematic from Stranglehold. You have slow-mo effects, sliding, and jumping, and climbing, and all while shooting baddies. It’s a lot of fun and it works well enough, but the controls don’t seem quite as fine-tuned as they could have been. Sometimes I found myself jumping with the intent of latching onto a wall and I would inexplicably miss and die. This happened several times over the course of the game. (The game is not without its glitches, at one point while my son was playing, he would shoot the baddies who would fall back and die properly but then, somehow, would glitch out and be standing on their heads and shooting at him. He finally just returned to the Xbox dashboard and restarted the entire game.)

But enough whining, although not perfect Wet was perfectly playable and what kept me riveted was its pedigree. Essentially, the makers of Wet set out to blend Tarantino’s flicks, Kill Bill and Grindhouse, into a video game. Wet’s Ruby, though seemingly a little rougher around the edges than Kill Bill’s Beatrix Kiddo, does all of her righteous killing with a gun, and even more fun, a samurai sword. The plot, similar to Kill Bill’s, hops around the world to various seedy ports of call featuring a range of scum of different nationalities and allegiances. All of this is over-layered, with the dust and pops of an old film a’la Grindhouse. Yes, the entire game, not just the cut-scenes, plays like a forgotten 70’s action movie – a dusty, drive-in print to boot. In fact, when Ruby dies either by falling or being shot to death the game halts by mimicking film getting caught and jammed in a projector.

Like Grindhouse, Wet also has carefully placed, but seeming random interruptions of old drive commercials and c’mons of the lets-all-go-to-the-lobby variety. Old animations of smiling hot dogs march across the screen urging me to buy them. Aren’t I thirsty, a jovial soda pop sings. These are actual ads – real drive-in movie history – woven into the game and they’re a hoot! I’ve never had such a welcome full-screen interruption in any game. The real shame here is that they are built into the game and not re-playable. A very poor decision. The main menu includes character bios and challenge levels, but no replay for these pop treasures.

Let’s all go to the game store and get ourselves this game!

Unlike the sometime choppiness of the game play, the movie-like cut-scenes are also very well done. It also has a few quick-time events involving superhighways that are incredibly fun, as well as a jump from an airplane that, though quite hard, is quite different.

I think the problem with Wet is that the creators were much more enamored with bringing Tarantino’s recent style to a video game, both visually and emotionally, and the video game mechanics were secondary to this. Anyone who liked Grindhouse and/or Kill Bill will like this game. They will see the homage being made and marvel at some of the ideas thrown around. However, anyone who is approaching Wet as merely a game with no care about its intellectual content is instantly going to recognize the sloppy controls for what they are – sub-par and a rip-off from several other games. Add to that two timed challenge levels set randomly into the game that have nothing to do with the story but are only there to artificially lengthen the experience and a gamers gamer is not going to have a favorable view. Furthermore, because of the less-than-exact controls, these challenge levels come off as a bit harder than they really are, and regardless, bring the entire enterprise to a screaming halt and give an impatient gamer a perfect excuse to stop playing.

I really enjoyed this game and in a lot of ways it was everything it should have been, and yet, in a lot of ways there was room for improvement. If it says anything, not only did I complete it, but both of the kids completed it in just a few sittings. Your enjoyment of it is entirely dependent on your approach. That said, as a fan of Tarantino and, in particular, the purposeful scummy style of Grindhouse, I found the loving detail, the pock-marked look, and the gritty neon sleaze a nice detour.

I find these old drive-in ads – completely fascinating – here’s 10 minutes worth.

And here’s schlocky 70’s movie preview for “Ruby” –

Lastly, here is the trailer for Wet – it really is a pretty cool game…


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