Most games based on a movie aren’t given much chance for success. Those odds get even worse when that game is based on a movie that was based on a comic book. Could Wanted: Weapons of Fate buck the trend?
Everything producer Pete Wanat touches is pretty much gold. So when I heard the man behind The Thing and Chronicles of Riddick video games was putting Swedish developer GRIN in charge of a game based on last summer’s Wanted movie, I actually started to care about how the game would turn out. Everything seemed so promising, but after playing through the game, it appears Wanat has lost his Midas touch.
Wanted: Weapons of Fate picks up mere hours after the conclusion of the film. It seems that Wesley is the target of the fraternity of assassins yet again, and will do what it takes to prevent his demise at their hands. Along the way, you’ll play some flashbacks as Wesley’s father, Cross, to fill in some backstory on why Wesley is currently a target. There are some allusions to what may be happening in the movie sequel, but whether or not the eventual movie sequel actually picks up on these story points is another matter entirely. Like the film, the game is full of action set pieces. The story may not be very memorable, but for better or worse, the action sequences will be.
Gameplay in Wanted is a strange beast. There are some incredibly cool and fun things to do in this game. Grin’s cover system is one of the best in a game to date. Wesley’s cover animations are smooth and fluid, and even when you’re behind cover, you never feel stuck there. There are a few things you strangely can’t take cover behind, but the rest of their system works so well, you won’t complain often. Curving bullets is also fun mechanic. Unlocking the ability makes the game much more fun to play, as you’ll constantly be trying for that perfect kill cam head shot. Thankfully the ability is tied to a meter, which fills up whenever you kill an enemy. You’ll also be able to slow time for a few seconds if your meter is filled, and while it’s an okay addition to the game, it pales in comparison to the actual slow motion events. Occasionally, there will be a point in the game where you’ll only be responsible for moving the aiming reticle while Wesley moves in slow motion. These moments are some of the most fun in the game, and after finishing one, you’ll be anxiously awaiting the next.
It’s a shame how fun bullet curving and slowed time can’t save this game’s more derivative and uninspired issues. Sniping is pretty bad. Though, that’s mostly due to the fact that you only get to use a sniper rifle during specific scenes where you’ll be handcuffed to one position, and there’s only one level of zoom. The only things worse than sniping in Wanted are the moments you’ll be forced to use a turret. The turret handles like a tank, provides cover only in the basest sense of the word, and you’ll find these instances to be much more frustrating than they’re worth. Boss battles are equal parts easy and boring, as they amount to nothing more than standard bad guys that take a few more special shots to go down. The final fight is an exercise in poor execution as the only thing that makes the villain “end boss” worthy is his extra large health bar. Even more disappointing is the fact that none of the bosses are memorable, with the exception of the final big bad, who is only memorable thanks to his unique facial disposition.
Once you complete the game on either Pussy or Assassin difficulty, you’ll be able to play through again on Killer. Though unless you’re a true achievement whore, I can’t see anyone feeling the desire to play through the game a second or third time. You may choose to play through again in Close Combat mode or Headshot mode, but both are about as interesting as they sound, and don’t offer the player much reason to play. There are some pretty interesting unlocks available, should you have the desire to attempt another playthrough, including playing the game as Janice, Wesley’s boss from the film, or as any of the boss characters you encounter along the way, with the exemption of Arana, who is replaced by the original concept character Spider, a fat white guy with a bad haircut.
To say Wanted looks good is an overstatement. It doesn’t look terrible, but the graphics are inconsistent at best. While running and gunning through a board, character models don’t look too bad, and environments are pretty well rendered. As soon as there’s an in engine cut scene, it’s apparent that not everything is as polished as it first appeared. The rendered movies look marginally better, but only when compared to the other scenes in this game. Matched up against any other game on next-gen consoles, Wanted’s movies fall short of passable. Neither Wesley or Cross look quite right when at a stand still, and the locales become very grainy and pixilated when not being rushed through at top speed. The five or six enemy character models are exactly the same throughout the entire game, the only difference being what color hoodie they’re wearing. Voice acting from the main characters is actually pretty good, and though some of the dialogue is a bit cheesetastic, even for an action game, the actors do a good job with what they were given. Generic bad guy dialogue is as repetitive as their costuming, and being called a pussy or motherfucker over and over again can surprisingly become pretty annoying.
The biggest disappointment with Wanted: Weapons of Fate was how close they came to almost getting it right. The few shining gameplay features like the cover system and bullet curving just can’t overcome the numerous flaws the game has in just about every other department. The distinct lack of multiplayer should have made the single-player a much more focused experience, but it didn’t, and players will be wondering what to do next after completing the game. Maybe my hopes were too high, but Wanted misses the mark, and ends up being a mediocre effort only fans of the film or comic should even attempt to play.