April 07, 2009
It is time for another of those straightforward games based on a film, based on a comic book, based on a dream – or something like that. It may be a little less complicated to say that the events in Wanted: Weapons of Fate take place a few hours after what happened in the film, so go see that first. Once you are done with that (of which you may only recall Angelina Jolie’s posterior with any fondness) then you may have more of a clue as to what is going on. Suffice it to say that movie tie-ins never seem to work out very well and this game may well rely on the fact it is a sequel of sorts to escape such a stigma. Still we all know that hitmen are cool, so maybe if they throw in some ninjas we would be set for total greatness (sadly there are no ninjas – or maybe they were just too well hidden for me to spot).
Random introduction aside, Wanted: Weapons of Fate was developed by GRIN and published by the lovely Warner Bros. as a follow up to the successful movie based on Mark Millar's graphic novel. Players take on the role of Wesley Gibson who has inherited a number of amazing skills in his quest to become an assassin, well, not a quest as such more a way to stop himself being killed – a lot. It is a clever idea as it means that the game can draw on all of the cool skills Wesley had learnt by the end of the movie and use them from the get go, while also giving room to expand on the back story behind the events during the film.
The main problem with the game, sadly, is the protagonist himself. By the end of the movie he was not only confident in his skills as an assassin, he was bordering on the arrogant, and that is exactly where the game picks up. The opening monologue decides to openly mock gamers as being fat and lazy – which hardly seems the wisest decision for any developer hoping to sell some games and stay in business. The same attitude runs through the whole game, with Wesley openly mocking, insulting and patronising everyone that gets in his way. While the voice-work of the character is spot on, it is hard to like him at all and frankly I found myself letting him die on purpose from time to time just because I could.
While I suppose the characters attitude is to be expected the rest of the games plot is still rather threadbare. Wesley basically seeks out part of the Fraternity of Assassins, who he believes are responsible for killing his family, then sets about offing them in a number of rather mean ways. Considering he has absolutely zero feeling for anyone but himself, the entire game plays out as one of totally self-gratification for Wesley, coupled with a few flashbacks to his old man's days as an assassin. It is hardly gripping stuff and the fact that absolutely no one in the game is likable in any way, means you rarely feel obliged to soldier on in the hope of learning some revelatory truths. It does not help either that the characters seem to only bear the most passing resemblance to their movie equivalents too, not to mention the fact that most of the levels take place in the most generic backdrops imaginable. It hardly pulls you into the story as a whole.
With an annoying lead character and a one dimensional plot, it comes down to the gameplay to save the day. Unfortunately the games greatest innovation also proves to be its major undoing. As with the film, you can bend bullets around corners along with a few other neat tricks. Killing foes nets you adrenaline which you can then use to bend bullets, use slow motion attacks between cover or even create explosive bullets. Wesley can also use his knife to instantly kill foes when he gets close enough and he can use cover to shield his approach. Blind firing from cover will also make his foes hunker down, giving Wesley a speed boost as he zips between cover, enabling him to flank heavily armed enemies. As the games goes on you can store more adrenaline and pull off the more advanced moves, and you even gain access to your father's pistol which has the lovely explosive side effects.
Unfortunately the cover system, slow motion moves, melee attack and flanking system are rendered next to useless by your ability to bend bullets. Why run up and stab a foe when you can just kill them (even when they are in cover) by spinning a bullet into their head? The same can be said with the flanking system which, after the tutorial, I never used again throughout the whole game as it was much easier just to take care of them from afar. While the whole idea of bending bullets is a good one, it is just far too powerful here and renders all of the other ideas effectively useless. It is also slightly annoying that you can not switch between targets efficiently when attempting a bent shot, not to mention the fact you can't move whilst doing so either.
While bending bullets into your foes is fun, it really does not hold up for a whole nine levels, and the fact you are restricted to just two guns throughout the entire game seems absurd. Thankfully the whole game can be rushed through in a few short hours so it never really outstays its welcome ... still, it would have been nice to have something to break up the game a bit instead of a couple of poorly paced turret and sniper sections.
Considering the brevity of the game the achievements are something of a slap in the face as you will be forced to play through the game at least four times (legitimately) should you want to snag all of the points. Considering most people would struggle to sit through one playthrough it seems appalling that you should be expected to then go back and play it again, and again and again. Preposterous. You can pick up roughly half the points in one run through the game, assuming you start on Assassin difficulty, and then you will have to play on The Killer difficulty to get the rest. It's not that the game is tough – just not in any way worth this much of your time.
Wanted: Weapons of Fate is a run and gun affair that has one or two enjoyable moments but nothing that really stands out. The levels are far too short and generic to make you want to struggle through them multiple times, not to mention the fact that the plot is hardly the stuff of legends either. As a rental this would be superb fodder, as the game could be bested over a lazy weekend but as a full retail purchase, this is inadvisable due to a lack of longevity and generally sub-standard graphics, gameplay and plot. Not the best movie, graphic novel tie in title we've seen by any stretch of the imagination.
Possibly the strongest aspect of the title overall as the voice work is spot on and does convey the overall feel of the comics and film, though sadly the script just comes across as hackneyed and patronising far too often.
The character animations are shocking in places and the characters are a shadow of their big screen selves; throw in a bunch of generic backdrops and you have to wonder whether anyone had even the slightest spark of innovation at any point.
Fun enough at first, and the bullet bending mechanic is excellent, but with every level being the same old thing with you having literally NO choice of weapons, it will soon get old.
A decent third person shooter with a few clever ideas, sadly the level design does not really live up to the weapon mechanics and the special powers just serve to make things far too easy.
Extremely mundane achievements and ones that require you to play through the game multiple times for no good reason. With a game this average you would rather get things over and done with than endure the same tired levels three or four times.
Wanted: Weapons of Fate is arrogant and patronising ... which would not be a problem if the game was amazing; but with flawed controls, repetitive action and an extremely short experience overall, this was never going to live up to its own delusions of grandeur. You may get a few hours of fun out of this game, but by that point you will have probably completed the story and sent the game on its merry way back to the store. There are far better offerings out there and even recent games like 50 Cent and Wheelman offer a much more satisfying experience.