I remember initially watching Wanted, the movie, thinking its fierce action might make for an intriguing videogame. As it turns out the folks at Universal Pictures had a similar perception and thus Wanted: Weapons of Fate was born. The studio wasn’t interested in simply rehashing the film scene by scene, and instead chose to create a third-person action game that plays as an extension to the flick. Forget the Loom, should we have faith that the team at GRIN were able to capture the over-the-top, adrenaline-fueled, frenetic action that the motion picture was known for? Let’s catch up with the Fraternity and find out.
Wanted: WOF picks up immediately following the events of the movie as the protagonist Wesley Gibson, after uncovering the identity of his father, sets out in search of the truth surrounding his mother. The first half of the plot alternates between two playable characters, Wesley and his father Cross. Considering his father’s present condition, the levels involving Cross play as flashbacks to when Wesley was first born, helping to fill in the back story while introducing the main villain, The Immortal. The second half of the campaign revolves entirely around Wesley as he earns his father’s suit and guns, and ascends from killer-in-training to full-fledged assassin. As far as narratives go this one’s a bit on the predictable side, but it provides a suitable trigger for the bullet-bending action.
That action is presented from a third-person perspective, with a heavy emphasis on cover gameplay. The cover system is a lot like that found in Gears of War, where you’ll use the same button to enter and exit cover, as well as move from one cover to another. Where Wanted: WOF innovates on the cover mechanics is the ability to melee enemies who are directly opposite your cover – by reaching over it – as well the ability to navigate the 90 degree corners of cover while still remaining concealed. Inexplicably, the latter capability only seems to work when the designers want it to. Sometimes you can wrap around corners of walls, crates and other such cover, while other times you have to exit and re-enter cover.
The cover system also suffers a bit from the same issue gamers had with the original Gears of War. Since you use the same button to enter, exit and move from cover to cover, there will be times when you accidentally move to another cover when you intended to exit cover, and vice versa. The mechanics would have benefited if you could have exited cover simply by pressing away from concealment. Last but not least, there are hit detection issues within the cover system as well. Even though an enemy’s head, arm or leg might be slightly visible while they’re in cover, you generally can’t successfully shoot an enemy until they’ve popped up over or around their shelter.
Cover gameplay in Wanted: WOF is considerably faster paced than the likes of Gears of War. The idea is to quick chain cover movement in order to flank enemies and perhaps even sneak around an enemy, grab him from behind and use his body as a shield while you take out the rest of his crew. It’s moments like these when Wanted: WOF shines brightest, especially when you use them in tandem with Wesley’s gifted abilities of Assassin Time and Bullet Curving.
Assassin Time is Wanted’s version of Bullet Time. At the push of a button you can slow down time for a few seconds. You can activate it when chaining or sliding over cover if there are multiple targets visible. Assassin Time works equally well outside of cover if you suddenly find yourself in a sticky situation or if you just want to make your next kill look sick in slow motion.
Bullet Curving is an equally satisfying skill. To bend bullets you simply lock onto an enemy, press and hold the right bumper/shoulder button, locate the best trajectory, and then release the button. If the right pieces fall into place you can even attempt to kill multiple enemies by finding a trajectory that intersects more than one target. There’s no guarantee you’ll kill an enemy with a curved bullet (until you acquire your father’s guns and Shrapnel ability that is), but at the least you’ll draw them out of concealment. When you do score a kill shot you’ll get a nice cutscene from a camera angle that follows the trail of the bullet to its unsuspecting victim(s). Ultimately Assassin Time and Bullet Curving are necessary tools in defeating the game’s boss characters. In order to use either skill you first have to fill up adrenaline meters by killing enemies in other means, either melee combat or simply shooting them.
Wanted: WOF occasionally breaks from its cover gameplay with sections in which you’ll grab a sniper rifle and pick off enemies from long range, or mount a machine gun turret to mow down larger groups of baddies. There are also a handful of interactive scenes in the game that offer an interesting mix of quick-time event and on-rail segment. In these scenes movement is taken away from the player and so all you have to focus on is shooting various targets within a time limit, whether those targets are enemies or bullets fired by your enemies.
Wanted: WOF is a really nice looking game. The environments are well detailed, though some are a tad on the dark side. Although Universal wasn’t able to secure the voice talent of actor James McAvoy, who played Wesley Gibson in the movie, his likeness is used for the lead character. There are plenty of other familiar characters in the game, each using their respective actor’s likeness and some, like Terrance Stamp, Thomas Kretschmann and Common, lending their voices as well. Paz Vega joins the crew as Araña, a new but surprisingly underused femme fatale. The game pulls most of its sound effects directly from the film and features the Danny Elfman soundtrack, as well as a remix of the title song “Little Things” by UNKLE. Overall the presentation is strong.
Where Wanted: WOF comes up a little short, literally, is in it’s story, which clocks in at about 5-6 hours of game time. As you play through the campaign you’ll unlock new playable characters, including all of the bosses, and when you complete the story you’ll also unlock “The Killer” difficulty setting, and so there is some incentive to replay the campaign beyond the usual achievements, trophies and hidden goodies. There’s no multiplayer support to speak of, which isn’t a bad thing in this case. I don’t believe gamers would get much more mileage out of Wanted: WOF if it offered competitive multiplayer, nor is it a title intended for co-operative play.
Like the movie, Wanted: Weapons of Fate is more style than substance. The game is at its best when Wesley is quick chaining cover with his ability to slow down time and curve bullets in the midst of overwhelming odds. The story is brief but I’m not sure it could have been much longer without the stylized action wearing a little thin (it starts to feel that way towards the end). Gamers with a passing interest in the title will likely get their fill of the experience in a weekend rental, but fans of the movie and graphic novel will be quite happy joining the Fraternity on a more permanent basis.