Wet Hands-On

We come to grips with Rubi, Bethesda's new leather-clad, gun-toting, sword-slashing heroine.

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When we first got to see Wet back in April, we greeted it with cautious optimism. You take on the role of Rubi Malone, a gun for hire who--in terms of her character--owes rather a lot to Tarantino's Bride from Kill Bill. We don't yet know exactly how the story will pan out, but your first mission is to intercept what seems to be a human organ that's being sold on the black market and handed off in some shady underground deal.

However, it’s likely that the story will play second fiddle to the outrageous action, based on the few levels we got to experience. Wet is no standard third-person shooter--there's no cover mechanic, you don't need to worry about ammo, and you have a samurai sword for close combat. As the tutorial explains, the point of each level is not just to get to the end, but to leave a bloody trail of corpses in your wake and to dispatch enemies in as stylish a manner as possible.

Fortunately, the game makes over-the-top executions a simple affair, thanks to responsive and intuitive controls and a very helpful autotargeting system. When you start an acrobatic move, the world slows down around you, giving you plenty of time to pick out targets as well as take out those who are automatically selected. Rubi is initially armed with a pair of pistols--as you fly through the air she will automatically target one, leaving you free to aim with the other. This may sound like it's too easy, but the sheer number of enemies means that you need to take out as many opponents in each move as you can.

You also rack up score multipliers in a similar manner to Sega's 2008 title The Club, with the increases tied directly to how ridiculous the moves are. Sure, you can just walk around shooting people in the face if you like, but wouldn't it be cooler to do so while sliding headfirst down a ladder or doing an acrobatic flip off a lamppost? When sliding and leaping, you have full 360-degree targeting, and the camera swings around to follow your targeting reticle while you leap. Despite having two guns, you have only one fire control (the right trigger), which can make pulling off some shots a little tricky as you need to be sure that your targeting reticle passes over your target at the moment the gun is about to fire. This is rarely a problem, though, as you have a rapid rate of fire even with the slow-mo. Hitting X while running will cause Rubi to whip her sword out and slash at the nearest enemy, giving you another option when outnumbered (which is always).

Thankfully, Rubi is just as lethal leaping through the air as she is on her knees.
Thankfully, Rubi is just as lethal leaping through the air as she is on her knees.

The reason for all this scoring isn't just one-upmanship--it will, in the final game, tie in to a levelling system for Rubi. This will let you upgrade her pistols, teach her new acrobatic combos, and increase her total amount of health. Also, in closed sections the rate at which you recover health is directly related to your score multiplier, giving you even more incentive to grab as many over-the-top kills as you can, rather than just wandering around slashing blindly.

However, all of the above is just Wet's bread-and-butter action--Rubi has a few other tricks up her sleeves if our demo was anything to go by. One section turns the game into an on-rails shooter as Rubi leaps from car to car along a busy motorway as you pursue the miscreant who has made off with the aforementioned organ. Shooting is a little tricky when you're perched on top of moving vehicles, but thankfully the slow-mo aiming comes into play as you leap from one crashing car to another, and when enemies get into sword range things get even easier, as a quick slice sends them rolling down the tarmac missing important parts of themselves.

The final piece of this increasingly bloody puzzle is Rage mode, which takes the game’s already over-the-top action and infuses it with the sort of stylised chaos that the likes of Suda 51 would be proud of. A scripted event sees Rubi get her face spattered with blood as she shoots a particularly incompetent henchman at point-blank range in the face, and this is swiftly followed by the screen going red and everything going into overdrive. Every kill bumps up your multiplier, and enemies melt and explode as they die, with epitaphs spattering the walls in arcs of pure-white blood if you pull off particularly gruesome kills. Here enemies die in swathes as you slice and dice, and one move even allows you to activate an acrobatic jump by kicking up off an enemy's chest before going into a backflip and shooting him in the face.

This array of moves was also on show in one normal-mode level we got to play, from much later in the game. This featured a much larger number of more heavily armed enemies attempting to storm a nightclub that Rubi finds herself in. The club featured large spaces to leap through, as well as assorted walls, poles, and light fittings, all of which could be used to your advantage. After a while, a boss appeared wielding a fierce-looking minigun and was accompanied by a whole host of henchmen. Thankfully the layout of the room meant it was relatively easy to keep moving, leaping, and sliding around, which meant that it was easy enough to keep ahead of the boss's minigun fire, but we were punished for each slip and pause as the gunfire rapidly caught up with us. This fight was a fun change of pace given that very few other single targets hung around for very long, and it will be interesting to see how these moments fit into the game as a whole.

The game does look to have a bit of a predilection for quick-time events, which involve either button mashing--employed to no effect other than annoyance in the section we played to open a couple of doors--or simply pressing the right button at the correct moment to leap from the top of your car onto the next one, for example. The final example of this was in the one boss fight we got to experience where a QTE was triggered as we went in for the kill. Failing this then restored a significant portion of the boss's health, and we were swiftly cut down by his minigun, finding ourselves rather out of position and far too close to the rapidly spinning barrels. How these will work in the final game remains to be seen, but at the moment we're not convinced of the need for them.

It's fair to say that realism does not count high on A2M's development priority list.
It's fair to say that realism does not count high on A2M's development priority list.

Wet's shaping up to be a bloody, stylish, and fun take on the shooter genre, infusing it with '70s schtick and a blend of the best blood-drenched silliness from the likes of Tarantino and Suda 51. Eliza Dushku has been lined up to voice Rubi in the final game, alongside Malcom McDowell and Alan Cumming, so expect to see a fair few cutscenes showcasing their vocal talents as the increasingly ridiculous story comes to its conclusion. We're going to be keeping a very close eye on Rubi over the coming months, so stay tuned to GameSpot as autumn approaches.

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