Wanted: Weapons of Fate

This is how you know you’re a badass: a rival faction of assassins boards the passenger plane you’re on, goes through the trouble of killing everybody on board, and then tilts the airliner toward the ground just to kill you. It’s flattering, really - but then, being a 24-year-old superassassin does invite some unique attention.

Though you’re resuming the role of Wesley Gibson just hours after the end of the film, Wanted: Weapons of Fate aims and claims to be more than another “see the movie, play the game” tie-in. On the surface, it’s single-player third-person action with the expected mechanics: a solid cover system, cinematic slow-mo, semi-destructible environs, and enough ragdoll to make wounding bad guys floppy, disjointed fun for the whole family.

In your hands, it’s a charmingly stylized experience, and a serious student of Midway’s Stranglehold. Like John Woo’s over-the-top gun-fu, using impossible gunplay to overwhelm basic bad guys is the big idea. Curving bullets (prominently featured in the film) is as easy and intuitive as bending a line in Photoshop; a neon line anchors points to your pistol and your target, and anything on the trajectory gets a tidy arcing telegram from a .38 slug.

GRIN’s focus is on building these straightforward shooter mechanics, but bulking them up with enough style to let you finesse your way through tough shootouts. Wanted’s cover system is a good example of this. Crouch-rolling between rows of airliner seats seems conventional enough, but chaining this movement together builds “Assassin Time,” which can be used to activate slow-mo. Move swiftly enough and the AI will lose track of your position, firing at the last spot of cover they saw you pop out of.

Other cinematic moments supplement the flashy stuff, like scripted on-rails shooting gallery sections that transform Wanted into a quasi-light gun game. In a chase through a Chicago apartment complex, the game took control of Wesley’s movements while we pointed the reticule around to guide his aim as he broke through windows and slid over tabletops. Later, a quick-time event had us rapid-tapping to handle a knife-wielding hood in close quarters. Because Wanted won’t feature co-op or other multiplayer modes, it’ll need to lean on these sections for gameplay variety.

Wanted wants to equip players with a deadly toolset of abilities worthy of a slick assassin. Using enemies as human shields, reaching around cover to stab thugs in the face, blasting open airlock doors to eject enemies into the clouds - whether or not moments like these will be enough to sustain a single-player experience will hinge on polish and variety. Hopefully, Wanted will be just that, and not another movie game on our hit list.

+ Bullet-bending and other abilities will make for a refreshingly un-straightforward experience; for a multiplatform game, GRIN’s Diesel engine is pushing out PC-worthy character models and visual effects.
– All the bullets are in one basket: with no co-op or multiplayer planned, the single-player needs to stand out. Slow-mo cinematic kill sequences tend to get old after a dozen or more times.

Nov 24, 2008