Curve this, ya dingleberry!
I played through Wanted: Weapons of Fate having only read the comic and still got the gist of what was going on – quite different from its comic counterpart but still enjoyable nonetheless. For those not familiar with Wanted, it’s about a secret organization of elite assassins whose credo is “kill one, save a thousand”, which is as far from the plot of the comic as some gamers are from attractive, single women. We could go on and on about how “the book was better” or "the movie looked cool”, but all nerd-guments aside, Wanted: Weapons of Fate was actually fun.
[image1]The story takes place immediately after the events of the movie (events in the movie include Morgan Freeman swearing, Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy being improbably awesome, and lots and lots of bullets running into each other). You play as Wesley, formerly a total chump and presently a supercilious bullet-curving badass assassin who uses profanity like a twelve-year old. Being that he who makes his living murdering people, his shock at the idea that someone might not like him for that, smacks a bit of naïvete and begs us to wonder how he got to where he is. The story isn’t too bad if you take it with mountainous grains of salt, and you don’t mind a few metric tons of artistic liberties.
The game itself is a third-person over-the-shoulder cover-to-cover (s’alotta hyphens) shooter not unlike Gears of War but rather than digging in and slowly gaining ground on your enemy, the pacing is much faster and you can get through every shootout without being out of cover longer than it takes to poke your head out and shoot. It’s actually, dare I say, fun. The levels are all linear and short, though, partly due to the pacing but I won’t begrudge it much, because it kept me plenty entertained the whole way through.
The movie Wanted features this ludicrous concept of curving bullets; the game is no different. I got dizzy from rolling my eyes at the thought of this, but it’s not mandatory to curve bullets, and it turns out to be handy in killing the legions of cowards who will never, ever, ever advance on you and just sit there behind cover, screaming obscenities at you in zees reediculous Fraunch aczents.
[image2]Despite how linear the levels are, they all look great. In fact nearly everything looks great. There were a couple of times when I was killed, because I was too busy taking in the scenery to get to safety. I’m not kidding; this is one of the best-looking games I’ve seen on consoles (especially after you get your mask).
The strangest thing about W: WoF is the curveless difficulty curve. There’s almost no challenge in the first seven (of nine) levels. Sure, you’ll be killed for cocking things up or not taking cover, but as long as you stay behind something, you’ll be just fine. That is until the last two stages, when the game erects a big brick wall of difficulty and frustration in the form of sniper battles. Yes, you and your measly pistols are expected to kill throngs of baddies at close to medium range while a sniper pops cap after cap into you wise-cracking ass.
There are the usual asinine items to collect to unlock other asinine things, like concept art and sound rooms, but there are four to five times the usual amounts of crap to collect in the last two levels. In fact, everything about the last two levels feels rushed and crammed in. The design is more lackluster than usual; the difficulty seems unreasonably ramped up; even the graphics feel phoned in. There are a couple of scenes where the camera moves from where you’re standing and zooms in across the next area, and some of the textures have this Internet-y look about them, like you’re watching them on Youtube or something.
[image3]The boss fights are a big bullet-curving disappointment as well. Every boss ("every" in this case means "four") employs the same tactics and is beaten with the same tactics. You shoot them, they hide and send a few waves of scrubs at you to refill your bullet-magic meter, and then you shoot them some more until they’re dead.
What wasn’t disappointing, though I expected it to be, were the John Woo-style quick-time events where the game takes over and bounces Wesley all over the room like he’s the Prince of Persia and switches to you shooting bullets and baddies in slow-motion. One scene that really stood out was this scene where you’re in a crashing plane and have to work your way to the tail section and the perspective changes so that you’re climbing up the seats. It was done fantastically well and that in and of itself warrants a rental.
Wanted: Weapons of Fate is like it’s from Bizzaro world – traditionally, you get the good game or movie and then you get the shitty adaptation, but like The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, this game gets it all backwards. Maybe its Warner Bros. way of apologizing for how bad the movie was. I’d recommend this, but it’s incredibly brief (4-5 hours depending on individual ham-handedness) and the levels (good looking levels, mind you) are all short and same-y, and the game’s childish obsession with swearing and guns just makes it shallow and only worth a rental at best.