Wet Review

  • First Released Sep 15, 2009
  • X360

This raucous bloodbath is rough around the edges, but exciting acrobatic combat and a great soundtrack make it very entertaining.

In the first scene of Wet, you slide down a long table in slow motion, smashing through towers of champagne glasses and a giant cake as you gun down thugs who are trying to kill you. Then you leap off the table to fly over a dragon-shaped ice sculpture as you pump bullets into even more goons. After you whip out your sword to finish the last one off, you'll have killed a dozen enemies in a bloody display of stylish, slow-motion savagery within a few short moments. Wet's gleefully bloody combat is a combination of high-flying acrobatics and brutal gunplay that is consistently entertaining, despite some rough movement mechanics. And while the seedy plot and cuss-happy characters aren't anything to write home about, the story is very well paced and propelled by a fiery soundtrack that perfectly suits the over-the-top action. Wet is a high-speed thrill ride that barrels over its own speed bumps and potholes at such a rollicking good pace that you can't help but have a riotously good time.

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The architect of all this destruction is the agile and deadly Rubi Malone. When things go afoul on a job she's hired to do, she wants payback, and she's got the skills to get it. Wet introduces you to Rubi's substantial move set at a measured pace, giving you just enough time to get comfortable with each ability before you unlock a new one. You start out jumping and sliding, but you'll work your way up to pole swinging, wall jumping, and a host of other acrobatic maneuvers. You'll use your abilities to traverse a variety of gritty environments as your work your way through the underworld to get at the guys who wronged you. For the most part, navigating is straightforward and fairly easy, though the loose controls ensure that you'll make your fair share of missteps. If you get stuck, you can hold a button to highlight areas that Rubi can grab onto or run to, which will generally get you on your way. However, some jumps are incongruously tough, and a few sections make your next step frustratingly unclear. You will probably die a bunch of trial-and-error deaths in these parts, and the loading screens along with Rubi's ugly death grunts get tiresome. But these frustrating bits aren't frequent, and before too long, you'll be shooting someone in the face and your mood will undoubtedly improve.

Rubi can run and gun fairly well, but it is much more entertaining and rewarding to gun while doing something besides running. If you start shooting while doing anything remotely acrobatic, time will slow down and the real fun begins. Rubi is a dual-wielding kind of gal, and when you enter the slow-motion shooting mode, one of the guns automatically targets a nearby enemy. You can then aim the other gun freely, which allows you to take down multiple enemies without breaking a sweat. This pairing of auto-targeting with free aiming is intuitive and uncomplicated, and Rubi's flexibility allows you to cover a wide degree of firing angles. The shooting mechanics and slow-motion effect combine to imbue every enemy encounter with cinematic potential. To take out a cluster of enemies, for example, you could leap toward your enemies and use your pistols to stop the charging swordsmen. Then you can land in a slide, switch to your semiautomatic guns, and spin your torso around in a full circle, spraying hot death in every direction. The slow motion not only makes this massacre possible, but it also allows you to revel in your deliciously deadly abilities.

Somewhere an event planner is weeping.
Somewhere an event planner is weeping.

Exploring your acrobatic repertoire is great fun, even though you'll probably rely more heavily on a few basic moves. The environments are generally conducive to leaping, running, swinging, and sliding, but you will definitely have some awkward moments. Some walls just don't want to be run on, for example, and you will keep sliding even after you've collided with a standing enemy. You may leap off a high ledge and land safely in one section, only to leap off a similar ledge and die in another. Yet for every misstep you make, you'll pull off many more successful maneuvers, and this ratio keeps the action moving along at a brisk clip. Wet is a very well-paced adventure that delivers a measured mix of platforming and combat, and there are a number of special sequences to spice things up as you progress through each level. In addition to some dramatic set piece levels (car-hopping on a freeway, anyone?), Rubi will occasionally get really angry and go on a short rampage. In these sections, the environment is bathed in a blood-red hue, Rubi becomes more powerful, and invigorating music plays as you cut a swath through your foes. Though these aren't the most engaging stretches of action and the stripped color palette can be a bit disorienting, they provide a refreshing jolt of aesthetic variation.

The most enjoyable bits of the story take place in the arenas. Rubi encounters these contained areas a few times in each level and remains trapped inside them until she kills everyone and shuts down all the enemy spawn points. These arenas are specifically designed with intense carnage in mind, and the environments are full of objects that take advantage of Rubi's acrobatic abilities. Not only do arenas provide the best showcase of Rubi's deadly talents, but they also offer a great place to rack up skill points. Throughout the game, you earn skill points for every enemy you kill. Acrobatic kills are worth more points, and successive kills will earn you a multiplier that boosts your point reward even higher. The multiplier counts down fairly quickly in the normal course of a level, but arenas are so densely packed that you can sustain a high multiplier for longer and really rack up the points. You can then purchase new abilities for Rubi (like stylish new sword attacks) and boosts for each of her five weapons.

You start the game with dual pistols (the only guns with infinite ammo) and a sword, and you'll unlock three more pairs of guns as you progress. It's easy to switch weapons on the fly, and your different guns have their own predictable strengths. After unlocking a new weapon, you'll flash back to Rubi's junkyard home and undertake an obstacle-course challenge that familiarizes you with the power and fire rate of your new gun. Once you beat the game, a bunch more of these courses will become playable. They provide a fun challenge, though they do require precise movements that aren't always easy to perform because of the looseness of the controls. Though these issues aren't very frequent, they can still create some of the aforementioned awkward moments.

Funnily enough, the lady about to get simultaneously shot and hit by a flying car ends up just fine.
Funnily enough, the lady about to get simultaneously shot and hit by a flying car ends up just fine.

The only other places you'll encounter awkwardness are in the cutscenes and character dialogue. The character models aren't particularly sharp, and there's a good amount of graphical clipping and lip-syncing clumsiness. The plot is a serviceably violent romp through the underworld and takes you to a variety of detailed locations that, while not exactly beautiful, have a number of nice flourishes. The voice acting is solid but not great, and some of Rubi's quips wear out their welcome pretty quickly ("Say goodnight, Gracie!"). The whole game is overlaid with a grainy filter (which you can turn off) that echoes Wet's grind house inspiration, but the best part of the presentation is the soundtrack, which boasts a robust number of grimy surf rock tracks. These chime in at timely intervals, punching up the action and psyching you up to do some more killing.

When you're done with the story, you can replay each level to try to beat a target point score or take on the obstacle-course challenges, though the latter tends to expose some of the game's weaker elements. Wet isn't a particularly pretty game, and a lingering awkwardness can interrupt the acrobatic platforming from time to time. Fortunately, you'll usually be too busy enjoying the action to notice. The combination of auto-target, free aim, and slow motion makes combat relentlessly entertaining, and the vigorous soundtrack and great pacing give the game a satisfying sense of momentum. Though there is a certain roughness to the action, Wet is still a raucously entertaining adventure.

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The Good

  • Great gunplay mechanics
  • Brisk, lively pace
  • Invigorating original soundtrack
  • Full of exciting action movie moments that you create

The Bad

  • Environmental inconsistency can hinder your acrobatics
  • Some choppy visuals
  • Annoying character quips

About the Author

Chris enjoys aiming down virtual sights, traipsing through fantastical lands, and striving to be grossly incandescent.