Wanted: Weapons of Fate

wanted
7.0 Overall Score

Inventive level design | Smooth and simple cover mechanic | Curving bullets never gets old

Incredibly predictable enemy A.I. | Turret and sniper sequences are tedious | Takes less than six hours to complete

There’s a stigma associated with movie-licensed games, and for good reason – they’re usually rushed to deadline for release alongside their silver-screen siblings, making a quick buck for publishers before being relegated to the nearest bargain bin. But with more than eight months since the debut of its cinematic counterpart, Wanted: Weapons of Fate seems to be a rare breed of movie-inspired game, one that delivers a frenetic, fantastic expansion of the franchise rather than the generic rehash we’ve come to expect. Through certainly not without it’s flaws, Barcelona-based GRIN has clearly put a lot of love and labor into creating a third-person shooter that picks up where the movie left off, creating an entirely new chapter that captures the look, feel and pace of last summer’s big budget thrill ride.

Wanted: Weapons of Fate starts five hours after movie’s credits rolled, with Wesley taking up residence in the apartment of his dearly departed father, the one he was tricked into killing by the Chicago chapter of The Fraternity. Having exacted his revenge, he’s been delving deeper into his family history, particularly the events surrounding his mother’s murder. It seems she was an assassin for the fanatical French chapter, who’ve both literally and figuratively had a bullet with Wesley’s name on it since the day he was born. When the Frenchmen finally come calling, Wesley embarks on a quest of discovery and destruction, eventually going bullet to bullet with their leader, The Immortal. The action alternates between the present and flashback sequences where you play as Wesley’s father Cross, eventually weaving together to reveal the origins of the rivalry. The game’s plot expands and enriches the movie’s universe, with welcome nods to the comics, but doesn’t do much explaining – if you haven’t watched the movie or read the graphic novel, the story isn’t going to do much for you.

 

But the story isn’t what matters most, it’s the überassassin gameplay. The slickly stylized action is presented from a third-person perspective, utilizing a cover-to-cover system akin to Gears of War. But unlike the brutish and bulky Marcus Fenix, Wesley and Cross dart around cover with the grace and speed of well-trained dancers. Well-trained dancers with guns. Wanted’s cover system emphasizes chaining your movements, laying down suppressing fire so you can quickly move from one piece of cover to the next undetected, flanking and sometimes even sneaking behind your enemies to score a stealth kill or grab a human shield. There are times when the controls feel clumsy, as the button for entering, exiting and moving between cover is one in the same, but for the most part the cover system is smooth and simple. It’s also incredibly effective when combined with assassin time, which temporarily slows the action down to a crawl, allowing you to take out multiple enemies. Of course, the greatest ability in your arsenal is bullet curving. Hold down the shoulder button and your bullet’s trajectory appears on screen, the thumbsticks allowing you to either change the curvature or adjust your position to line up the perfect shot. If it’s a kill shot, the camera will follow the bullet spiraling toward its doomed victim in a cinematic cutscene straight from the film. If it’s not a kill shot, a well-bent bullet will at least cause them to stumble out of hiding long enough to finish the job.

To use either of these skills will cost you adrenaline – for example, curving a bullet costs you one unit, but you earn one unit every time you score a kill, meaning with careful aiming and timing, you could take out concealed enemies indefinitely. This makes the game way too easy, and subsequently way too short. Wanted has no multiplayer, consisting of a nine-chapter single-player campaign that can be beaten in less than six hours on “Assassin” (the “Pussy” difficulty setting isn’t even worth mentioning, unless you’re looking to incorporate more games into your physical therapy). Completing the game will unlock “The Killer,” which adds some incentive to play through a second time beyond the unlockable characters, trophies and hidden pieces of concept art and comic book covers, but not much. The difficulty does ramp up as the game progresses, adding snipers whose laser sights must be avoided, enemies who wiggle around bullets Matrix-style, and knife-wielding maniacs who charge at you initiating a button-mashing minigame, but the changes are largely superficial. Your strategy never really evolves beyond move to cover, shoot, move to cover. Enemies also tend to hide next to conspicuously placed fire extinguishers, exploding barrels and gasoline tanks. The developers do try to spice things up with several turret, sniper and slow motion sequences. But the problem with the first two is that you’re mostly pinned down behind cover, popping out to locate enemies not by sight but by the direction the bullets are flying from. The turret sequences in particular are incredibly frustrating as the game doesn’t feel the need to clue you in on how to avoid becoming Swiss cheese, meaning you’ll die in a matter of seconds if you don’t happen to stumble onto the controls for raising up the turret’s destructible defenses.

 

The slow motion battles fair much better, playing like a cross between quick-time event and on-rails shooter. In these special sections you no longer control your movement, focusing instead on shooting bullets out of the air before putting several in the enemies who fired them, all within a limited time frame. This allows for some super-stylized, hyper-cinematic scenes, like a gunfight aboard a plummeting plane that has you shooting around flying drink carts and falling bodies. These really add a dose of much-needed variety. Though there are several options when it comes to dispatching your foes, you’ll only get to use two guns – a single pistol as Wesley and the double-wielded Fire Eaters as Cross. Late in the game you’ll have access to both simultaneously, able to switch between the single-adrenaline using pistol and the double-adrenaline using Fire Eaters, whose Shrapnel Storm ability causes a devastating explosion upon impact. Not that this ability isn’t awesome, but a few more choices would have been welcome—while we understand true super assassins need only their skills, a gun and a knife, this is a shooter and shooters are defined not just by the quality of their weapons, but the quantity. Wesley wouldn’t lose any face with us for picking up the odd sawed-off shotgun or high-powered rifle, because shouldn’t the world’s greatest assassin be comfortable using any weapon at his disposal? If Jason Bourne can kick ass with a rolled up magazine, surely Wesley can figure out how to pull the trigger on a wider variety of guns.

The developers put a lot of work into the environments, which are remarkably detailed. From rain-spattered rooftops to sun-dappled cobblestone, Wanted looks great. Even though its levels are linear, they have a sense of depth thanks to the gorgeously rendered textures and lighting. Even an office building, normally the bane of the shooter, feels fresh thanks to all the little touches, like the tangle of power cords beneath a desk or the assortment of magazines strewn on a break room table. Some of the cutscenes rendered using the in-game graphics engine exhibit a noticeable drop in quality, but the gameplay and cinematics look polished, making you feel like you’re playing a true sequel to the movie. Although actor James McAvoy doesn’t voice to the game, his does lend his likeness to the virtual version of Wesley, who comes off as a hybrid of the movie’s timid wage slave and the comic’s amoral bad ass, complete with artist J.G. Jone’s iconic red-eyed suit.

 

Like the movie, Wanted: Weapons of Fate is flashy and fluffy, a fast-paced shooter that favors stylish graphics and control gimmicks over an abundance of content, but what is there is lots of fun. GRIN has created a movie-licensed game that doesn’t transcend the genre, but certainly improves upon it with a streamlined cover system, inventive level design and innovative gameplay mechanics. It’s a short-lived experience, but the very fact that it leaves you wanting more speaks to the strides made in making a movie game that actually entertains and engages the player, and is worth picking up as a rental at the very least. If you’re a die-hard fan of the movie, or are looking for a decent third-person shooter, you’ll want to join this fraternity.

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Author: Kristen Spencer View all posts by

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