Joystiq impressions: Wet

By now you know that Wet is the latest of Activision Blizzard's castaways to have been rescued from a grizzly, unpublished fate. At Bethesda's 2009 lineup showcase in London, we were given a demonstration of how the rescued game has progressed since it was last shown properly in 2007.

Wet is a stylised, Tarantino-flavored acrobatic shooter for the PS3 and 360. The emphasis here is on constant movement and pulling off Kill Bill style moves, without having to resort to cinematics or quick-time events. Imagine Mirror's Edge meets Stranglehold and Devil May Cry. You play as Rubi -- voiced by Dollhouse star Eliza Dushku -- who is a "fixer." That's another word for "hired assassin," which explains the game's name -- a shortened version of the term "wetworks."

The game reeks of 1970s action films, from the art direction and animation to the music and the environments. There's even a grainy film filter over the entire game, though apparently this can be turned off or changed in the settings menu. What we saw wasn't the most graphically impressive game in the world, but the abundance of style made up for any technical shortcomings.
As the emphasis is on over-the-top acrobatics, you'll be spending a lot of time with your feet in the air, or running along walls thanks to Rubi's impressive wall-running skills. Whenever you leave the ground, you'll enter a Stranglehold-esque slow motion mode, allowing you to not only aim faster, but to utilize your second gun. This happens automatically and will auto-aim at anyone on screen. If you get tired of shooting at everything, however, you can always pull out your sword and perform some bloody and gruesome finishing moves.

Stringing together your acrobatics is key to building up a strong multiplier bonus. Rubi can wall run, jump, flip and slide off pretty much everything in the game. The level we were shown started out as a tutorial, teaching each of Rubi's abilities. Once the skillset has been sufficiently ingrained, the level opens up to become one big playground, allowing you to utilize whichever moves you see fit in order to dispatch the encroaching swarm of enemies.

And there will be many enemies in this game. The developers at A2M are putting a lot of emphasis on massive battles where the odds are stacked against the protagonist. Thankfully, by chaining moves and kills together, entire armies can be cut down without much difficulty. Doing so will rack up your score, which is then used as currency in a Devil May Cry style shop system through which you can upgrade or buy new weapons and moves.

Rubi has a bit of a temper and, at several points in the game, will enter Rage mode. These are predetermined events, rather than voluntary triggers. The example we were shown consisted of a cutscene in which Rubi faced off with a single enemy (quite literally -- she shot his face off), resulting in her face getting splattered with some of his innards. That's enough to make anyone see red.

Here, Rage mode begins and the color scheme completely changes so that everything is white and red. It looks a little like Madworld, but better. Again, we have to give props to the artists at A2M for pulling off such a great sense of style throughout the game. Rage mode isn't just a pretty effect, though. Rubi is faster, deals more damage and, as a result, has to contend with a lot more enemies. It's like playing the Crazy 88 scene from Kill Bill. These Rage mode sections will occur around seven or eight times throughout the game and each one will have a different gimmick.

From there we moved on to a ridiculously over-the-top car-hopping scene, where Rubi is attempting to chase down her mark. The section plays out like a long QTE in which you can still operate the game's shooting mechanics. Rubi hops from car to car, shooting at enemies and causing a lot of mayhem. It's visually very impressive, though there will no doubt be many who complain about the QTE nature of these sections. It's hard to tell just by watching, but these sections could either be very fun or very frustrating.

As for the rest of the game, it's looking like a really interesting title. If moves are as easy to string together as it appeared, then action fans will have a field day. Emphasis is placed on a great single-player experience; there will be no multiplayer aspect to the game whatsoever. The developers expect the game to last around eight to ten hours, with unlockable modes adding further longevity.

These extra modes include challenges, set in Rubi's home -- an airplane graveyard -- as well as unlockable difficulty settings and a Points mode where you are rewarded for beating certain scores in each of the game's levels.

It's a good thing Bethesda saw fit to rescue Wet from publishing limbo. We're definitely intrigued to see more of this fall 2009 title and can't wait to get our hands on it.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.