Do you remember Enter the Matrix? How about last year's Iron Man? Quantum of Solace, anyone? Gamers have good reason to distrust movie licensed games. However, Wanted: Weapons of Fate finds itself in a rather unique predicament -- it's based on a franchise people aren't passionate about. Do Batman injustice, and gamers will cry bloody murder. Mess up Wanted, and no one will notice.
Perhaps it's because of the original film's clout, but there simply isn't much hype surrounding GRIN's upcoming game. If strong franchises lead to terrible games, what faith can we place in a game based on a mediocre one? We'll admit that our expectations were quite low going into the demo. However, lo and behold, we were surprised to find not only a competent game, but a unique one, featuring an inventive and refreshing new take on traditional third-person cover mechanics.
What's so unique about Wanted's cover system? It's meant to be "offensive," rewarding players that use cover to move from place to place. It's not uncommon to spend a few minutes stuck in one position in a game of Gears of War, but the slow, methodical pace is not what Wanted is about. The developers wanted everything in the game to feel fast, especially the cover.
If players can move between cover without being seen, it begins a combo system that speeds player movement. Let's say you're hiding behind a wall. You can run behind a cart and take cover there. Then, you can rush forward to the next wall. Every time you move forward without being seen, your character accelerates. Eventually, you'll be able to move from cover to cover nearly instantly. This allows you to sneak behind enemies and go for an instant melee kill. The film also portrayed the assassin's ability to teleport behind enemies, but never explained the process to the viewer. It's fun to see the game filling one of the film's many gaping holes.
While we're most impressed by the implementation of cover, the other abilities of the assassins are handled quite well. The iconic bullet curving returns, and simply involves holding a shoulder button and moving the analog stick. This ability is limited to a focus meter on the top right hand corner of the screen. Focus is refilled only by kills, so players that are able to curve bullets into headshots will find themselves rewarded with a never-ending supply of focus. In addition to curving bullets, players will be able to enter the game's version of slo-mo bullet time, and even shoot a homing barrage of bullets at an enemy.
The standard gameplay is broken up by a number of small action sequences, reminiscent of classic light gun games, like Time Crisis. During these slo-mo segments, players will have to shoot incoming bullets (highlighted in red) and take down the enemies. It's rather simplistic, but the short length of all of these segments make them an interesting break from the gameplay, rather than a tiresome gimmick.
Overall, we're impressed by what we've played of Wanted: Weapons of Fate. The ludicrous over-the-top nature of the film transcends into a much more cohesive experience as a video game. We're hopeful that GRIN will be able to create a licensed game that, for once, transcends its licensed origins.