Wanted: Weapons of Fate Review
The short and thin story leave much to be desired after all the wait
Having seen the movie, I was going into the Wanted: Weapons of Fate playthrough with a good attitude. The movie was enjoyable, get great action, acting, and good story twists (more so than your average action movie). After the movie did very well at the box office, the follow-up game was announced and released almost a year later. And while the game does not disappoint in the action department, all other areas seem lackluster and it is simply way too expensive for the amount of content that you get.
The Wanted universe is based on a series of comic books about a young man named Wesley, who is an average guy that one day is recruited into a secret fraternity of assassins. As soon as that happens, he becomes an arrogant jerk with his newfound confidence, and proceeds to take matters into his own hands. I will not spoil the movie, as the game begins shortly after the movie’s ending story sequence. You play as Wesley for most of the game, as he gets involved with the French fraternity who is after some of his family-related possessions. For about a third of the game, you play as Wesley’s deceased dad, in a backdrop storytelling. The story follows Wesley’s discovery that the French fraternity actually discovered something personal in his home and he needs to get it back, to learn the truth about his parents. At the end of the game, you are on a mission of revenge as much as exploration. Other than this, there is not much of a story here. I am sure that fans of the book will enjoy this for the sheer familiarity factor, but for the rest of us, the story will seem paper-thin and very forgettable. It’s anti-climactic and goes through the same boss fight notions over and over. Characters are introduced as fast as they are killed, so you really do not know why the French want you dead all of a sudden.
If the game carries one thing well from the movie, it is the action. The game uses a good cover system, which allows you to easily slide into cover and pop out to take enemies out. It is similar to Gears of War, so you will be familiar with it if you have played that game, including the quick regenerating health system. However, there are some cool unique features to this cover system, such as the ability to stick and wrap around smooth corners in one motion (rather than having to slide around the corner in two motions). The game also provides a very good movement preview, so every time you peek from cover, the game will display an action you can perform (if available) such as jumping to the next set of cover or diving across a hall. This can make for some very fast movement (which may not be in the game’s best interest – on this, later). So at times it is definitely a lot more high-paced than your average cover shooter. The shooting feels solid and ammo is relatively easy to come by, so you will rarely need to use your melee instant-kill. The downside here is that only two guns are available in the entire game – Wesley will have his single pistol for the first half of the game, and in the second half he acquires his dad’s dual silenced automatic pistols. During dad’s game chapters, you will only have access to the dual automatics. The key selling point for Wanted is the bullet curving feature. It is a very cool feature that is easy to use and comes quite in handy at times. By holding down Shift and pressing the fire button, an arc appears, the end of which is locked on to the enemy. By moving your mouse, you adjust the trajectory of the bullet, and let go of the fire button to shoot. After a few tries, you will get pretty good at curving your shots, so enemies will go down fairly quick. Any time an enemy is low on health and you do a bullet curve shot that hits, a slow motion camera follows the bullet to it’s bloody destination. You only get a limit amount of bullet curving (it increases as you progress through the game), and to activate the bullet time you need Adrenalin, which is gained by killing a bad guy. Another unique cover feature is the ability to dive between cover in slow motion, allowing you to take out exposed enemies while you move to the next cover. This also works pretty well and enemies seem to go down much faster if you hit them in this “slow motion” run.
Speaking of bad guys, there are not very many types of them. You’ll be fighting SWAT officers, and French fraternity members for most of the game, but they all have the same weapons and characters. You have the simple enemies, who go down in one well-placed shot. Then there are the automatic shotgun baddies who can take a fair amount of damage and deal quite a bit if they hit. About halfway through the game, melee assassins appear – these guys rush you screaming wildly and can take quite a few bullets before going down. However, once they reach you, a very simple button-mash quick-time event is activated, so oftentimes it’s best just to let these guys approach you and save your ammunition. The last type of baddies you’ll face are folks that like to dodge bullets. These guys do not deal particularly big amounts of damage, but they usually make you drain a ton of ammo before finally putting them down. If you can, these are best approached for an instant melee kill as well. And last but not least, you will face off against 3 or 4 bosses during the campaign. But disappointingly, the bosses, like the rest of the game, play nearly identically. They take up a position in cover, you do as well. They will occasionally expose themselves to your fire and shoot back or simply run across to a different set of cover. After you bring their health down by one-third, they will hide and a few regular foes appear – by killing you will replenish your bullet time ability, and back to the boss fight. After a few of these notions, the bosses go down and you move on. It’s totally forgettable and almost embarrassingly repetitive from one boss to another. There are also a couple of gun turret sequences, and the tip here is to aim upwards when you start losing health, otherwise death will come quickly and often.
The final content note to make about Wanted is that, as you should have heard by now, it is a full-priced game that is barely 4 hours long. While I do consider myself good at shooters, I did not expect to finish this game as quickly as I did – 3 hours. That’s not a whole lot longer than the movie, and that was 5 times cheaper and provided a lot better storytelling. I played on the highest difficulty level, and I only died 3 times towards the end of the campaign. I found 80% of the hidden content (comic covers, dev team photos, concept art, etc), as the game is extremely linear, so any off to the side corners or barrels you come across will likely contain one of these unlockables. I also did not rush the fights, only diving forward between cover occasionally or when facing multiple enemies. There is no multiplayer, and simply no replay value. I’m sure folks that prefer to play with a controller, for whatever reason, will take considerably longer to finish than those who choose mouse and keyboard, but that’s just artificially extending the gameplay length. There are 9 chapters, one of which is in the demo, each are rather short except for the final few.
The game runs on a stable engine, and I have experienced no crashes at all during the playthrough. Though of course, being so short, it wasn’t really a difficult task. The game was done by GRIN, developers of the Tom Clancy’s GRAW franchise, and they have done a good job. The game is polished with no glitches or animation issues, but you would expect that from such a short and linear game, otherwise it would not be worth anyone’s while. The environments are varied and all the effects look great. The game runs at a solid 60fps on a medium test machine, though we have experienced some crashing issues at first with Nvidia’s PhysX, so we had to disable it to actually get the game to run. Another note that needs to be made on the visuals is the strange low resolution of the cutscenes. Depending on the settings and resolution you play the game as, if you are playing at 1024x768 or above you will likely notice the awful low polygon count during the frequent cutscenes in the game, and there is really no explanation or excuse for that. Some are just a few seconds long, and it’s a wonder why they could not be done with the in-game render. The sound in the game is passable, the background music is nothing to complain about, but then again you will probably not even notice it for most of the game’s action. Gun sounds are ok as well, nothing special. The character voice acting is probably the highlight of the sound department, and even though not all characters from the movie let their voices be used, the stand-in actors do a fine job impersonating the voices of actors from the movie.
When initially starting, I did not think I would write a review this long. Simply put, Wanted is not a bad game by any means, but it is impossible to recommend to anyone at its current price point. The action is fun but repetitive, the story is thin and enemies/bosses are forgettable. The single player is extremely short, especially for those familiar with shooters and using a keyboard/mouse combo. Even if you are a fan of the comics or the movie, you will find it hard to shell out the full price for a game that can be beat within a day.