Rubi Malone is a girl who is tough not to like. Put more accurately, Rubi--the butt-kicking heroine of Artificial Mind's upcoming third-person action game, Wet--is one tough chick, and it's hard not to like her because of it. Publisher Bethesda Softworks held a press event today, giving us a new look at Rubi's two-fisted adventures in a game that's wearing its pulp fiction influences on its bloody sleeves.
Before we got to the new stuff, we checked out the opening levels of the game, including the insanely over-the-top car chase scene that featured Rubi leaping from car to car in a gun-blasting bid to track down a package that had been stolen from her. It's one of the more exciting action scenes we've seen in a game recently--a wonderful mix of quicktime button-mashing and blasting bad guys to bits while in midair. We've seen the level before, but its impact hasn't been diminished in the least since then.
Playing the opening levels gave us a chance to acquaint ourselves with Rubi's amazing fighting abilities. She's packing two pistols and a fancy sword on her back, and she knows how to use them. When leaping in midair, sliding on the ground, or wall-running, you'll be able to slow down time temporarily whenever you fire Rubi's guns. One pistol is always auto-aiming at an enemy, giving you the chance to focus on a second bad guy in order to take them down simultaneously. When things get up close and personal, Rubi can deliver some death with her sword, which cuts down fools with style. And "style" matters a great deal in Wet--killing enemies with a flourish will earn you points you can cash in for weapon and ability upgrades at the end of levels.
After a run-through of the beginning levels, we were taken to the eighth level of the game, which finds Rubi infiltrating a mysterious-looking castle situated on a rocky beach. The first part of the mission is to maneuver Rubi around a literal minefield; you'll need to use her considerable acrobatic prowess to avoid the mines and make your way up the mountainous rocky cliff and inside the castle. Whether leaping from one boulder to the next, wall-running up a vertical wall to latch on to a ledge, or avoiding flaming barrels as they tumble down the side of a sheer cliff, the sequence is a challenge, and the slightest mistake can result in death.
Once inside the castle, we found a mix of light puzzle-solving (such as firing both of Rubi's pistols at gate locks in order to raise the gate, all the while sliding underneath the raised gate), acrobatic platforming, and taking down scores of bad guys. You'll get used to being severely outnumbered in Wet--in certain sections, your goal will be to shut down doors located throughout a room to prevent an endless horde of enemies from entering the room. After we cleaned up a room of minions in one section, we found a Gatling-gun-toting miniboss--he was tough up close, countering Rubi's sword slashes with his huge gun. The key to taking him down was avoiding his gunfire by leaping around and blasting him with pistol fire at every free moment.
With him dispatched, Rubi made a daring escape from an exploding section of the castle, ending up hanging from the outside of the building and overlooking a courtyard. It was impossible to leap down to the ground--as Rubi was too high up. Instead, the goal was to make it from one side of the huge building to the other by skittering across the outside wall of the structure, all the while avoiding enemies who were blasting at her from every open window. Rubi's acrobatic sense came into play here--by holding down the left trigger on the Xbox 360 controller (L2 on the PlayStation 3), ledges and poles were illuminated with an orange glow, showing you where Rubi was supposed to head next. What followed was an extended mazelike sequence of ledge-leaping and acrobatic skill, punctuated by scenes of violent mayhem as we took out any enemies who got in our way.
The game's presentation is a hoot; a winking nod to 1970s B-movie action flicks, with bad film effects, cheesy dialogue, and even theme songs for some of the more hysterical battle sequences. Couple that with sophisticated camera work during the scripted sequences (like the car chase scene described earlier), and you've got a compelling mix of pulp fiction plot and modern-day sensibilities. Rubi's got a foul mouth too, which makes her that much more endearing.
Wet seems to be at its best during the combat sections, which are quick, stylish, and a whole lot of fun to play. The platforming sequences, by contrast, tend to slow the action down a great deal, and we're hoping there's more gun-firing and swordplay than ledge-leaping and chasm-jumping in the final version of the game. Nonetheless, Rubi is the star of the show, the kind of girl who cusses out doors that refuse to open for her. In other words, she's our type of chick. Wet is looking like our kind of game too, and we're looking forward to its arrival on the PS3 and Xbox 360 on September 15.