Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Review Date: 4/25/10
Rubi Malone is a vicious and deadly gun for hire who gets set up by a nasty drug lord, and now she's looking for revenge. If she can stay alive long enough, that is... The game's setting resembles a 1970's Hong Kong action film with a contemporary spin. It's clear the developers have been watching too much Quentin Tarantino, and the "Kill Bill" influence can be seen and heard throughout the presentation. That can be good or bad, depending on your personal taste. Rubi is equipped with two infinite ammo pistols that can be fired in slow motion when she performs a number of acrobatic maneuvers, allowing for precision aiming and some highly cinematic action sequences. Unfortunately, the pistols are almost completely worthless, which forces Rubi to rely almost exclusively on her sword. More powerful guns are available, but they have extremely limited ammunition and need to be saved for really tough enemies. The difficulty is manageable on the easiest setting, but it becomes overwhelming shortly after the two-thirds mark. Sadly, the game isn't nearly fun enough or engaging enough to force yourself through the final gauntlet, so I quickly gave up after frustration set in.
First and foremost, the game favors style over substance, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it requires you to like the style. The environments are very attractive and create a nice and gritty underworld aesthetic. Unfortunately, the characters are unattractive and annoying, and the cuss-happy dialog is awful. It's really hard to get into a game when the lead character is uninteresting, and as much as I love female action games, Rubi has very little to offer the genre. The voice acting is fair and has a certain B-movie charm, with Eliza Dushku voicing Rubi and Malcolm McDowell as her adversary. Much like the "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" game, Rubi has nothing interesting or meaningful to say, and her generic bad-girl quips are a constant irritant. Her laughably awful death moans are even worse. Seriously, couldn't they come up with something better? Of course, the bad guys don't have anything interesting to say either, which serves as motivation for Rubi to permanently shut them up. The soundtrack is a curious "love it or hate it" blend of rockabilly surf punk, which if nothing else sets the tempo for the free-for-all action scenes, much like it would for a shoot-out in a Tarantino film. Personally, I found the music to be gratuitous and overly grating, with the exception of the purposely awful Chinese singer at the Royal Opera House. In sticking with the grind house movie theme, the game employs a scratchy film grain filter on the screen, shows tacky intermission messages from a bygone era, and uses countdowns, melting film, and film sprocket imagery for various effects.
As far as gameplay goes, the controls can be rather sloppy and Rubi's movements are only smooth when she's in slow motion. She's also equipped with "Rubi Vision," which allows her to see what items in the environment she can interact with, but it isn't always helpful. It also unfortunately uses the same button that is used for climbing, ledge hanging, and wall running, which definitely leads to confusion. Perhaps the most frustrating thing is trying to gauge the distance of Rubi's jumps. Sometimes she can jump twenty feet, and other times she only jumps five feet, which makes it difficult to determine what jumps are possible. You will end up dying a lot, which sends you back to your last checkpoint and an annoyingly long loading screen. Health items are rare and come in the form of whiskey. Even though the animation of Rubi tipping back a bottle, tossing it in the air, and shooting it is extremely brief, it becomes tiresome and annoying after the second time you see it. This kind of bad-ass attitude and swagger runs throughout the game and does nothing to endear you to the characters or their plights. Again, it's all rather juvenile and unrefined, but perhaps that's the audience the game is looking for. Overall, I found "Wet" to be solidly mediocre and fairly entertaining as long as I was making progress, but its charms weren't enough to keep me going after I got stuck.