NEW YORK — There are things you can count on in the gaming world, things that seem to never change. For one, licensed titles, especially ones based on movies, are generally lame. Many are conceived as quick cash-ins to the movie, and are rushed in production in order to be out in time for the theatrical release. This may work for kid’s games, as they will consume anything and everything with their new flavor of the week character in it, but for adults, we need a little more from our games in order to justify dropping $60 and 10 hours of time into them.
That’s why I was pleasantly surprised when I was given the chance to play the video game version of Wanted, which released in theaters last year. Actually, that right there was my first hint that things could be different with this game, as it was not rushed onto shelves to coincide with the movie’s release, but was instead given time to develop.
I was told that this is something like “Wanted: 1.5”, as it begins five hours after the movie’s end and begins to tell a new story in the Wanted universe. It’s a third-person shooter, and boasts elements such as Assassin Time (which is essentially a version of Bullet Time) in order to make the gameplay more than just run and gun. Assassin Time by itself wouldn’t be that impressive, but Wanted has something that no other game on the market does: curving bullets.
Curving bullets is fun, and it’s easy to pick up on. I tested this out on the Xbox 360, so to curve, you press RB to have a trail pop up on the screen, and then you use the right analog stick to adjust the path of the bullet. When the enemy in focus is red, you aren’t going to hit him, but when it’s white, release RB and you’ll give the guard behind cover a little surprise.
The developers made it so that you can’t just spam curved bullets all day long from behind cover. You have a gauge that fills up whenever you kill an enemy (though enemies killed by curving bullets do not count towards this gauge) and once that gauge is full, you can curve bullets. The kill from a curved bullet is often a real-time event that happens very quickly, but occasionally, the game will slow things down like the movie and you’ll get the chance to see a gory visual event as a curved bullet takes down a guard.
Another thing that keeps you from hiding behind cover is that the AI is far too smart to let you do that. They will surround you, they will hunt you down, and they will kill you if you just sit in one place. The developers designed a cover mechanic that resembles a combination of Gears of War 2 but with a character who is as quick and deadly as an assassin.
Simply press A to hide behind cover, and then point in a direction and press A again to shift as fast as a ninja to the next wave of cover. With some practice, you’ll be fast enough to shoot while you’re hopping from cover spot to cover spot, and the enemies will be fooled and continue shooting where you used to be rather than where you are. That’s a great way to then sneak up behind enemies and stab them to refill your gauge.
In addition to the regular levels, you also have ones that are on rails, where you need to take out enemies as fast as you can. You will experience Assassin Time here as well, and be able to slow things down enough that you can see bullets coming at you. Target those bullets to stop them from hitting you, and take out the enemies shooting you while you’re at it. These break up the standard gameplay mechanic, and make for some good fun, especially since your goal is to get through these parts as fast as you can.
I was told that the game gets to be ridiculously difficult; after all, with some practice ducking between different cover spots, your ability to curve bullets and your assassin time, you should be nigh invincible. No worries though: there will be enemies that won’t die via curved bullets, and they will send plenty of intelligent soldiers after you at the same time in order to keep you on your toes. There are also multiple difficulty levels; to unlock the hardest, you will need to beat the game once, but no worries, as things are meant to be so difficult on the hardest level that you will need the initial experience in order to get by.
Between the new game mechanics with curved bullets, the difficulty and the style that is dripping from the game in both its approach to third-person shooters and the killing systems, Wanted: Weapons of Fate looks like a title that is going to exceed our expectations for movie-based titles and be worth a purchase when it releases in late March.