When Vivendi and Activision merged there were many games in varying states of development that looked like they might not see the light of day. One title, Wet, from developer A2M, has been picked up by Bethesda and is set for release this year.
We got our first look at Wet two years ago when it was introduced at a Sierra press event. The ensuing years have allowed developer A2M to polish up the action game, which is going for a '70s-action-movie/Quentin Tarantino vibe. Reps from A2M were on hand to give a live demo of the game's first level as it now stands and to talk about what to expect from the upcoming "acrobatic shooter."
Wet's main character is Rubi, a "fixer" whom you meet in the middle of a job. The game's story aims to keep Rubi's origins a bit of a mystery, choosing to drop you in the middle of her life and offer tidbits about what got her there as you go. The demo kicked off in San Francisco with a cinematic that showed Rubi watching some thugs do a deal that she interrupts. As you'd expect, things get messy, and there's a good amount of gunfire as she wades in, which served as a good showcase for the game's acrobatic shooting mechanic. A2M reps cited the Crazy 88 sequence in Kill Bill as an inspiration for the game, and the film influence shows. The sequence has Rubi running on walls, performing fast knee slides, and backflipping around enemies, all the while shooting people up. At the heart of the crazy acrobatic shooting mechanic is the dual aiming system that will lock on to one enemy with one of Rubi's hands and let you free aim with the other.
The fight spills out of the building and Rubi gives chase to the few people she didn't fill full of holes. Along the way we were shown the health system: when Rubi needs a pick-me-up due to low health, she just has to crack a bottle of sweet, sweet whiskey to make things better. We also got the chance to see her use her sword, which you'll be able to use in conjunction with her guns for some murderous flair. One other nice trick we saw was Rubi sliding down a ladder--by gripping the sides with her legs and firing a hail of bullets as she moved down, upside down. A bit later in the level Rubi entered what A2M is classifying as a battle arena area of the level where hordes of enemies will come at you. The only way to move forward is to take out a set number of enemies, which then triggers an event that lets you out of the area--in this case, a couple of vans that were blocking the path speeding off.
The heart of Wet's combat system is a combo system that will let you chain together moves that you'll modify via style. Mixing gunplay with swords and acrobatics will yield a better overall score than simply shooting people, as will throwing in flips, stomps, and headshots. You'll have a solid assortment of weapons to choose from during the game, with Rubi's dual pistols eventually giving way to shotguns, submachine guns, and explosive crossbows--all of which are upgradable over the course of the game. A2M has also tossed in yet another alternative to guns, swords, and crazy acrobatics--a rage mode, which was shown off.
In the demo we saw that Rubi got blood on her face and then went nuts. The game presentation changed to a stylized monocolor view that showed Rubi as a silhouette and the blood as flashes of white. The action and music both sped up considerably from the regular game. While in rage mode, Rubi will move faster, do more damage, and regenerate health for a limited time. The team is still ironing out just how often the mode will come up, to keep things balanced, but suggested that overall there would probably be around 10 of these sections, which are not user-initiated.
The last part of the demo showed off a bit of the second level, which found Rubi chasing her quarry by leaping onto moving cars in a series of quick-time events that punctuated on-rails shooting gameplay. The level was a mix of shooting and car jumping that had a flashing, cinematic look.
Following the demo, a Q&A session offered a bit more information on what to expect from the game. Rubi's in-game voice is provided by Eliza Dushku of Tru Calling, Dollhouse, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame. In addition to Dushku, veteran actor Malcom McDowell, whose career includes A Clockwork Orange, Star Trek Generations, and the recent TV show Heroes, will voice the game's main villain. Actor Alan Cumming, best known to American audiences as Nightcrawler in X2 and as "invincible" programmer Boris in GoldenEye, will also voice one of the characters in the game. Besides a variety of different enemy types, Rubi will have to contend with bosses. While her pistols will have unlimited ammo, the other weapons in her arsenal will have limited ammo, although how much they can carry is one of the features you can upgrade. Rubi will also make use of the tentatively titled "Rubi-vision," which will let you look at your environment and see what you can make the best use of for your acrobatics.
In terms of content and length, the single-player story-based mode is expected to last roughly eight to 10 hours. In addition, you'll be able to unlock two to three additional modes to play, including a challenge mode set in the abandoned airplane yard Rubi calls home and a points mode that will challenge you to beat a set score over a given level. The game will also feature monkey-themed collectibles and will support achievements and trophies.
The visuals have a stylized look that's enhanced by a saturated color palette and a filter that give the graphics a film grain look--but this filter can be turned off if you'd rather keep the look clean. There's a decidedly '70s look to the clothing and environments that fits with the stylized atmosphere, and overall the graphics look good and do a good job of setting the tone. The camera goes into some cinematic angles during the action that look cool and didn't seem to hinder the important task of peppering your foes with bullets in the demo we saw.
Based on what we saw, Wet seems to be offering a stylish new angle on a standard action game, but our big questions about the game revolve around control. The game's cinematic approach is definitely cool looking--we're just hoping the camera and control cooperate. Wet is currently slated to ship later this year for the PS3 and Xbox 360. Look for more on the game in the coming months.