Rubi Malone is Bad
to the Bone
Wet plays like the spiritual successor to 2007’s Stranglehold, but rather than resembling the creative vision of John Woo, it feels a lot more like you’ve been dropped into a Quentin Tarantino film. Taking on the role of Rubi Malone, an unstoppable hired gun, players will dive, slide, flip, swing, shoot, and slice their way to gory success. This game is loaded with satisfying, cinematic gunplay. It’s also has a unique presentation that squarely hits the mark.
Ironically, the very same elements that make the game so appealing end up becoming tiresome in the end – once you’ve begun to master Rubi’s moves, things get repetitive; though the visuals and plot have a cohesive, grindhouse vision, they lack subtle details and substance to keep you enthralled. As a result, the game doesn’t have the legs to stand next to the elite titles of this generation. Nevertheless, it’s quite an enjoyable romp while the fun lasts and likely a must-play for anyone looking for a new shooter.
The story told is a simple one you might have found in exploitation films of the 70’s, mixed with a contemporary sensibility for special effects. Playing as the sultry femme fatale Rubi Malone, players will wetwork their way through 12 brutal chapters and around the world turning thugs and crime lords into grease spots. Being a freelance assassin, Rubi plies her deadly trade wherever the money is greenest. After securing the black-market purchase of a heart for transplant for one of the world’s elite drug kingpins, William Ackers, Rubi soon finds herself embroiled in a drug war between The Syndicate and The Triumvirate. The resulting confrontations that beset Rubi will require all of her acrobatic and lethal skills to pull her through. While the narrative isn’t groundbreaking, it does provide a solid platform from which magical moments of gunplay are often launched.
As previously mentioned, gameplay is quite reminiscent of Stranglehold in that the gunplay is highly stylized and utterly cinematic. However, rather than using key objects in the environment to enact moments of brilliance, Rubi simply tumbles around levels like a gymnast. She lithely leaps into the air, slides across floors, runs around, up, and back flips off walls, swings from poles, and hangs from ledges, all the while dealing out death in 360 degrees. Her acrobatic prowess is such that players instantly feel empowered, effortlessly gliding through the air and popping goons’ melons. Rather than shooting fools methodically from cover, Wet rewards players for getting ballsy by slowing down time whilst in mid-air – a mechanic similar to bullet-time – and giving them Style Points for technique. These Style Points can then be spent between chapters on upgrades to Rubi’s abilities and the characteristics of her weapons.
Rubi wields a katana and dual pistols. The katana is very effective at close range, while the pistols – boasting unlimited ammo and nearly imperceptible reload times – work wonders at a distance. As players progress, other weapons including shotguns, sub-machineguns, and dart bows (with limited ammo) become available. Switching between your arsenal is done efficiently through the D-pad, and lighting up baddies is a snap due to an auto-lock-on function. Because all weapons are dual-wielded, taking out one thug at a time is not the way to play the game, however. Known as Split Targeting, players are able to manually aim a tiny reticule with the right analog stick to nail other targets, all the while blasting the initial target to death. Chaining multiple kills together and doing so stylishly is only way to get all the Achievements/Trophies and increase your Style Point multiplier to maxed out levels, resulting in quicker character advancement and a lot more fun.
The game is varied in that it has players battling through parkour-inspired platforming sections, on-rails/stationary segments, arena battles, challenge gauntlets, and moments of rage. Each of these portions of gameplay is incorporated into game rather smartly – I liked the way they broke up the gameplay while still feeling true to the story. However, each element does have its weak bits. For example, the platforming, while competent, can often be less-than-fluid and downright confusing. This is true despite the addition of Rubi Vision, which guides you by highlighting possible routes to exploit. Furthermore, whether leaping from cars during a high speed chase or manning stationary weapons, the on-rails moments seem to clash with the rest of gameplay. The arena battles, which are more set-piece fights than actual gladiatorial events, lose their charm quickly, as putting down clones and sealing off spawn points is only fun for so long. Additionally, the Rage mode, while visually exquisite, doesn’t add any substantial mechanics to warrant its inclusion in terms of gameplay. In other words, no single gameplay moment is perfect, but they all work together to create a lot of great and varied moments no matter how short-lived.
While all this over-the-top, circus-like carnage is quite visceral and initially satisfying, it eventually becomes a bit stale and routine. Moreover, I often wished Rubi’s actions were more easily linked together. Although the game will boost your Style Point totals for combining one acrobatic move to the next, its implementation is a bit clunky.
The Acrobatic Flow mechanic simply isn’t as tight as it needed to be. I found it difficult for quite some time to incorporate all of her abilities into one fluid, choreographed dance of death. For instance, turning a leap into a slide is easily done with the press of a button, but then transitioning a slide into a third move, such as a wall run, is typically foiled by overly precise timing. This game should have been more user-friendly, but instead the action is bogged down by needless exactness, making it far less free flowing than it should have been.
Wet is only a single-player experience, but multiple difficulty levels may draw out the gameplay. These four difficulties are distinct enough to accommodate any skill level. A fifth, called Golden Bullets, is not necessarily the most difficult, as it features one-shot kills, but it does require greater skill from the player to keep Rubi alive. The difficulty levels will conceivably extend play value for some, but the story is quite short and doing it all over again with nothing more than more challenging foes won’t be ideal for most. Collecting all the Monkey Toys and Style Point bonuses scattered throughout the chapters will keep completionists busy, but they break up the flow for anyone just trying to play through the story.
This game oozes personality. I absolutely loved Rubi’s and the boss characters’ designs, and the quirky filters and grindhouse theme were fitting and cool. The music and voice were also superb. The tons of featured tracks are not only fitting to the overall subject matter, they nicely capture the specific scene. They’re also looped very well. The voice acting features a star-studded cast that lends a lot of quality to the story. Lines like “I hope you f@#$ better than you shoot,” are priceless. On the downside, not enough detail went into environments and insignificant characters are made more so due to a lack of attention. The game needed more technical polish to back up all of the wonderful creativity that went into the visuals.
Wet is a very good game that any fan of shooters will enjoy. Disappointingly, the game doesn’t seem to quite live up to its full potential though, as gameplay elements get tiresome and controls aren’t quite tight enough. Regardless, the cinematic presentation and the outrageous gunplay is an experience most players will not want to miss.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.3 Graphics
Though I would have liked to have seen more technical polish, the retro film presentation is inspired. 3.8 Control
All of the tools are present, but getting them to work together misses the mark. 4.6 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The quality music selection and great voice acting do wonders for the storytelling. 4.0 Play Value
Mowing down foes in an acrobatic way is a lot of fun, but I wish it was more user-friendly. The short story mode features multiple difficulties, but only the truly enamored will feel the need to play through a second time. 4.0 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.