It should come as no surprise that a game with as blatant a title as WET contains absolutely no subtlety whatsoever. Thankfully, as a counter to all the innuendo, WET is defined at the beginning of the game as ‘hands wet with blood;’ everyone is guilty, or something over wrought like that. This is not a game about water skiing or the creepy girls from Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball (though Rubi does fill out her leather pants quite nicely). WET is a game about shooting people, often, in slow motion, with a tag along story and incredible soundtrack. It is quite familiar, lacks any and all innovation, is relatively unpolished, and still manages to be well worth a play through or two. What is here is fun, and as long as you aren’t looking for extraneous multiplayer modes or depth beyond run/shoot/dodge, you will not be disappointed.
Imagine Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have been locked in a room together, given nothing but Max Payne to play and a stack of random CD’s to listen to, and told to make a game or die. Shortly before starving to death because neither of them can code, they would come up with WET, at least in concept form. It is completely derivative, but it’s got style, attitude, and liberal f-bombs for impact. Third person shooters are second only to first person shooters for the sheer number of titles that come out, so it is understandably difficult to come up with anything original that actually works and is not a gimmick. Instead of bringing new ideas to the table WET simplifies what is already there. For example, slow motion has been around for years. In WET it is triggered by jumping, sliding or bouncing off of things and there is no cool down time between uses. Because of this, liberal bullet time use is not an option; it is required to survive because it makes it easier to dodge and allows Rubi to target more than one enemy at a time. Weaponry has received the same streamlining: no reloading is required and there are only four options. Three of these make sense, but the explosive crossbow fires so slowly that it can use up a whole dive on only a few shots. This doesn’t help when there are twenty guys shooting at you, with twenty more waiting to re-spawn if you take too long.
All is not just run and gun. Each non-driving level contains at least one timed arena with multiple doors to destroy and an unending supply of foul-mouthed goons to shoot. As the game progresses these areas become more and more puzzle like, with a definite right and wrong way to do them. Each also begins with a checkpoint, so getting killed just starts them over. Anyone who played The Club, and there aren’t many of you, will recognize this and enjoy its odd racing game, repeat until you get it perfect mechanic. This carries over into Points Matter mode, which takes the scoring concept and spreads it out across entire levels. I would have preferred that this not be a separate mode, as it is not unlocked until the story is finished, but as it stands it is a way to encourage further play in what is an otherwise very short experience.
WET seems to know exactly what its limitations are, and tries to throw in enough diversions to hold the (correct) suspicion that you have played all of this before at bay with a number of novelty levels. The previously mentioned arena levels are the best, with Killer 7 inspired red levels coming in a close second. Rubi shoots a guy running at her in the head, gets blood splattered on her face, and gets really pissed off. Everything goes red, a kill chain counter starts, and Suda 51 gets a small but tangible royalty check. These actually are better earlier in the game when they are shorter; the last red area spills over into the a much less amusing ride on top of cars/press X to not die rail shooter level, and the two do not mix well. Quick time events are not abused too much, though there was a very unfortunate decision to replace all boss battles with short button combinations. WET spends half of it story time emphasizing that the bad guys are seriously bad ass. Killing them by hitting jump at the right time is more than an anticlimax, it’s just poor design. Throwing unskippable training levels in after getting a new gun is a similar bad idea. They kill all momentum of the story on top of being totally un-necessary. Everyone knows that a shotgun works at close range, right? I really didn’t need a five minute acrobatic tutorial to remind me.
Looking at the games soundtrack is pointless; I didn’t recognize a single band or name on it. If there was a way to buy it, however, there would be no hesitation. Every track feeds into the Reservoir Dogs on speed feel that WET creates. It looks and sounds like a grind house pic, right down to the gritty film filter over everything. The developers were wise to pull in some high end vocal talent to go along with this. Malcolm McDowell is smarmy and cool, Alan Cumming plays a good reluctant sidekick, and even Eliza Dushku makes questionably written lines like ‘Fuck you, door!’ sound good, but not too good. WET never takes itself seriously, which may be what keeps it from just being another noir clone more than anything else. It is self aware, silly, sexy but not exploitative, violent but not grotesque. There is a balance struck here that many bigger budget, better looking, longer titles miss.
WET is not an excellent game, by any means. Aside from the terribly disappointing boss encounters there are a few boring levels, controls that will leave you running up a wall instead of along it, and a host of other little visual problems that could have been fixed with more money and more time. The game, its characters, and what little plot it has are amusing enough to overcome this, however; it’s all about managing your expectations. You don’t go to see random summer action flick A because you are expecting an Oscar nominee, you go because you have two hours to fill and nothing else to do. In the same way, don’t play WET expecting a worthy successor to top tier third person action titles like Max Payne and Gears of War. Play it to enjoy its foibles, shoot some people in the face, and fill the time between bigger releases. If everything was a triple-A title would anyone appreciate them? Slumming it is okay, and slumming it with WET is a good time you can tell your friends about without being too embarrassed.