Wanted: Weapons of Fate Updated Hands-On
We blast our way through three demo levels of this movie-based third-person action game.
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There's a downside to being a stone-cold killer. Oh sure, being a globe-trotting member of a secret fraternity of superpowered assassins has its perks: cutting-edge weapons, an expense account that would rival the GDP of a small nation, not to mention that whole license-to-kill thing. Nevertheless, for every aspect of an assassin's life that just plain kicks butt, there's the flipside: the fact that practically wherever you go, people want you dead. That's certainly the case in Wanted: Weapons of Fate, the upcoming action game from developers Grin and based on last year's blockbuster movie. This week we had a chance to take the game for yet another spin, including a look at the tutorials and three levels from the game.
In Wanted, you'll play as both Wesley Gibson (played in the film by James McAvoy) and his father, Cross (played by Thomas Kretschmann). Both are members of the Fraternity, a supersecret band of assassins whose killing abilities are far beyond normal. Wanted's tutorials will take you through the basics, from basic aiming and shooting (controlled, respectively, with the left and right triggers), to the more-complicated gunplay of curving bullets and using the game's cover system and adrenaline feature.
Much like in the film, getting Wesley to curve bullets takes some adjustment. The mechanic is controlled with the right bumper (R1 on the PlayStation 3), which will bring up an arch tied to your target of choice that shows the curving path of your bullet. With some careful manipulation of the right stick, you can adjust the arch of the bullet, including not just the direction of the curve but also the height of the arch's apex (which is sometimes useful when trying to curve a bullet in tight quarters). Color-coding helps here: Once your target changes in color from red to white, you can let go of the shoulder button and the bullet will fly to its target.
Interestingly, curved bullets are not always a guaranteed kill. Occasionally the game will give you a nice "bullet cam" view of the shot curving toward your foe's head. More often, especially in the later levels of the demo that we played, a curving bullet will merely wound your opponents, often causing them to drop out of cover, which will give you a chance to unload on them as a result.
The game's adrenaline system will reward skillful shooting by giving you with one adrenaline point for every successful kill. Adrenaline is what powers abilities such as curving bullets and "assassin time," which briefly slows down the game, giving you a chance to quickly pick off multiple targets. The demo levels that we played maxed our adrenaline points at either one or two, depending on the level, but if you were careful with your bullets, you could effectively keep your adrenaline high and your assassin abilities always at the ready.
Though we've seen all three of the demo levels in our previous looks at Wanted, we saw a few aspects of each that we hadn't noticed before. The first nontutorial mission is called "When the Water Broke," and features Cross making his way through a quaint village and looking to make contact with a female character known as Alyse. After dealing with a bunch of peons with your curving-bullet ability--or the gruesome close-quarters kill with a press of the B button--you'll get to a sequence in which you must protect Alyse. She's located in an apartment building across from you, she's holding a baby (presumably, the infant Wesley), and her building is being overrun by bad guys. As Cross, you must protect her as she makes her way to safety by taking down those thugs using every trick in your book. You use curved bullets, straight-ahead gunplay, and even sequences in which you're blasting baddies to bits with a turret or sniper rifle. Strangely enough, the enemies all seem to be focused on you and don't seem to even notice Alyse and the baby; then again, you are the one with the gun.
The second level features Wesley in Chicago, looking to deal with that city's chapter of the Fraternity. It should be noted that the demo doesn't reveal much in terms of the game's narrative, so we can't tell you exactly why Wesley is looking to take down the Fraternity with extreme prejudice. He just is.
Anyway, the level starts off in a courtyard, with Wesley sneaking around and eventually taking one of the guards unaware. You can choose to execute him on the spot with a press of the B button, or use him as a meat shield for as long as his corpse will hold up, which, considering the sheer number of enemies you face in the courtyard, isn't long at all. This level serves as a good reminder of the game's cover system, which uses the A button and the left stick to move from one cover point to the next. It also serves as a reminder that curving bullets is not the answer to all of an assassin's problems, as proved when you face an enemy wielding a riot shield, for which curving bullets are essentially no match.
In our experience in the demo level, there were two ways to deal with the riot-shield problem: A) run directly at the guy and hope to take him down with a melee attack, or B) use blind fire and cover in a smart way. Although Option A is the easier solution, it doesn't work that well at the higher difficulty level because you are much more vulnerable to damage. As a result, B is often the better but more difficult option. By firing blindly when in cover and then quickly moving to another position, you can fool the enemy into thinking you're in one spot when you're really in another. It's an effective method of sneaking up on a bad guy unawares, but realize that the window of opportunity is a small one.
After the courtyard, you're taken to a quick-time event as Wesley breaks into a warehouse and causes all sorts of mayhem. The quick-time events play a bit like the aforementioned "assassin time": short, scripted sequences interrupted by interactive bits in which you fire at enemies or even at the bullets they're shooting at you. Miss them and you'll end up wounded or worse and have to start the whole sequence over again.
The final demo level was undoubtedly our favorite if only for its setting: a cramped airliner brimming with dead passengers and heavily armed bad guys. The confined movement area gave the mission an intense feel; we used passenger seats to avoid fire, pushed beverage carts up the aisle as moving cover, shot at fire extinguishers to blow them up (taking the airplane door and any bad guys nearby with it), and more. Despite its high points, the level had its quirks. The inability to move across passenger rows to get from one aisle to the next felt artificial, and the enemies seemed more bullet-resistant than in previous levels. It was also strange to have no living passengers on board; having to fight among civilians, choosing which targets to shoot and which to avoid, would have amped up the level even higher.
Based on our time with the demo, Wanted's greatest strengths can be found when you are truly in the flow of blasting arcing bullets at bad guys, sneaking from cover to cover, and diving full-throttle into the action. We're hoping that the game's story ties all of this action together in a meaningful way and that the action stays consistently engaging through the entirety of the game. We'll have our answers when Wanted arrives on March 24, so stay tuned for more in the coming weeks.