Bethesda's WET - But Are We?
With terms like 'A2M' being tossed around, how can we not be? Stunning action sequences in Bethesda-published slashfest.
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Another day, another contrived high octane action game abbreviation. "WET", explains Creative Director Patrick Fortier, is short for "'wetworks', which means undercover missions that get messy. You have to get your hands 'wet' with blood," he adds, without much conviction. Try lowering your voice an octave or two when you say it, Patrick. Or doing a Tony Montana impression.
Undercover missions that get messy are all in a day's work for Ms. Rubi Malone, WET's sultry, beer-swillin', monkey-agile heroine, her tomboy snarl supplied by sometime Buffy actress Eliza Dushku. Rubi's a "fixer". She "fixes problems", if you know what they mean (do the Tony Montana impression again, Patrick). "She's kind of like a contemporary take on a Clint Eastwood character - the Man with No Name from the spaghetti Western days," Fortier goes on, as Lead Designer Ashraf Ismail takes us on a whistle-stop tour of the first level. "Her origins are a little bit mysterious, she's really driven by money, she gets double-crossed and betrayed sometimes, but ultimately she comes out on top."
If Rubi's backstory is a bit of a misty business, one thing developer A2M (Artificial Mind and Movement) and new publisher Bethesda are crystal clear about is that she's not there to look sexy. Nope, not one bit. "We didn't want to pick up something where there's a female protagonist because we thought sex could sell, or we wanted to put her boobs in the camera as much as possible, or do a tight pan on her butt," says a Bethesda spokesman. "I think that's actually a disservice to the game. We want this game to be taken seriously for what it is. It shouldn't really matter whether Rubi is a guy or a girl."
A pensive silence settles on the journalistic throng in which our eyes stray to the tight leather pants, smouldering cherry-lipped pout and sliver of well-toned abdomen splayed across the concept art. It's a fair way from the raunchiness of Bayonetta, we'll grant you, but the idea that all those firmly-muscled curves are somehow incidental from a marketing perspective is a little hard to swallow.
"We think the game itself is really cool," continues Mr Bethesda, in tones reminiscent of a biology teacher from the fifties, "and her personality adds to it, but we're very much against trying to going overboard with her sexuality, putting her in ridiculous outfits. I think that's a huge mistake. We talked to these guys a lot at first about how we're not going to do that at all, and hope you guys are OK with that. We think the game stands on its own merits."
Fortunately for this slightly self-deluding analysis of Rubi's star attributes, the game we saw at Bethesda's preview event does indeed look like it can stand on its own merits. WET is as unoriginal as they come - a homage to the stylised massacres of Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill flicks which blurs Stranglehold's bullet operas with Tomb Raider: Underworld's free-running - but it feels like the right kind of unoriginality, the no-nonsense, workmanlike unoriginality of a game that's squeezing a lot of entertainment value out of the fine details.
So yes, there's slow motion gunplay and wall-running. There are wooden crates and handily placed explodable oil drums. There are blade attacks, upgradeable firearms (four, to be exact, with the starting pistols packing limitless ammo), move combos and score multipliers. Conveyer belts of obstacles and enemies bulge into mildly open-ended combat arenas, with a cocktail of murderous but hackneyed QTE action to bring the proceedings to a climax. On paper, shorn of its riotous seventies soundtrack and gilded film grain, this might be any gun-totin' run-and-jumper from the last three years.