Wet's come a long way from the basic proof of concept demo I saw at the Leipzig Games Convention in 2007. Back then the game was to be published by Vivendi, and to be honest didn't look too hot. Fast forward over two years and new mega publisher Activision Blizzard didn't pick the game up in the merger, growing publisher Bethesda snapped it up, and Wet's looking like a great deal of fun. Our friendly PR rep enthusiastically described the action title as Stranglehold meets Tony Hawk, and from my hands-on with a selection of levels he's not wrong.
We've covered the game a few times before, but it's worth briefly running through the basic premise. You play Rubi, a wetworks expert, which essentially means she's a deadly assassin - and a rather sexy looking and sounding one at that. She's highly skilled with guns and swords, and is pretty agile too, meaning she's more than capable of running up walls, leaping through the air and firing off her duel pistols at the same time, or slicing a man's arms off. The whole thing has a distinct Grindhouse style, too, putting the game somewhere between the look of SEGA's House of the Dead reboot and Midway's John Woo's Stranglehold.
Wet's built around slow motion gun-play, with the time passing slowly whenever you've got your finger on the trigger. Leap into the air and hold down fire and Rubi will glide as you pummel enemies with lead - one gun auto targeting and the other being manually aimed. Slide on the ground and you'll be able to do the same. Run along a wall and fire, and yep, time will tick along more slowly. These moves are all well and good on their own, but link them together to be really cool and rack up high combos. It's remarkably similar to Midway's aforementioned game, but there appears to be more scope for flashy moves here.
As you work through the game you'll be able to upgrade Rubi's move set, too, so if you want to run up a guy as a makeshift ramp, launch into the air and then slice him with your sword on the way down, you can. All these moves are best put to use during the game's arena battles and challenges. Arena battles are as you might imagine. At the end of one of the game's story levels Rubi is locked into a large room, with enemies spawning from doors around the arena. Your goal is to destroy each of the spawn doors and then wipe out any remaining enemies.
When in control of Rubi she proves to be a rather tricky customer to get the most out of. The combat works flawlessly, with the slow motion jumps and slides in combination with shooting feeling great, but navigation might take a little getting used to. On numerous occasions I intended to run up a wall to reach a platform, only for Rubi to miss the wall completely - if anything she feels a bit too frisky. My hands on time was brief but spotting enemies also seemed a bit tricky, with their outfits blending in with the detailed environments.
What seemed far more fun, and potentially where the real replay value in Wet lies, is the challenges. Taking Rubi for a spin in her home, named Boneyard, I attempted three challenges in the obstacle course-like level. First up was a timed course in which Rubi has to leap through rings, with flaming rings triggering the release of targets. In slow motion it's up to the player to shoot the white targets, boosting your score in the process. It's easier said than done, with the white targets proving hard to spot in time. Another challenge offered more of the same, but with Rubi using the more powerful shotgun instead of her pistols.
Something different was the fixed gun turret challenge, in which Rubi had to gun down targets that popped up on a distant building, as well as barrels and clay pigeons that were fired into the air. While this wasn't nearly as open to be played in a skilful way, it did serve to demonstrate the kind of variety that these challenges will offer, not only in Boneyard, but in the rest of the levels too. With medals awarded for your performance and high scores to beat, it's a shame there are no online leaderboards in order to compete against friends.
Outside of the challenges and arenas the core game isn't just about shooting and slicing enemies, with plenty of puzzles and platforming thrown into the mix too. One level, set on the White Cliffs of Dover, required neat use of a slow motion sliding shot at two targets, while there was also plenty of shimmying along ledges and leaping about Lara Croft-style. A surprising highlight of my time with the game was the on-rails section that I'd presumed to be a fairly run of the mill QTE level. While there are QTE elements, you're also given full control of Rubi's aim as she leaps about car rooftops on a busy freeway. Thrilling stuff.
Wet isn't likely to be a game of the year contender, but it's certainly got enough going for it to warrant a look if you're into flashy third-person action. The core combat mechanics work well and the presentation is stylish enough to make up for any technical weaknesses. Look out for our final verdict soon.
Wet is due for release on Xbox 360 and PS3 on September 18.