IGN Review of Wanted: Weapons of Fate
When the final bullet was fired at the end of the Universal Pictures movie Wanted, were you thinking, "I wish I could continue the adventure on my own"? If so, then Wanted: Weapons of Fate was made for you. Continuing the story of the movie, Wanted follows Wesley as he attempts to uncover the truth about his mother, a journey that allows gamers to take control of Wesley's daddy, Cross, in several flashback levels.
Being a videogame based off a film (which in turn is based off a comic book), the expectations for Wanted are pretty low. But Wanted's producer is Pete Wanat, the man responsible for gaming's few good movie-to-game adaptations: The Chronicles of Riddick, Scarface and The Thing. Is Wanted up to those standards? No.
Wanted: Weapons of Fate does manage to recreate the look and sounds of the movie, though the 360 version has some poorly compressed pre-rendered cutscenes. Blending some of the artistic sensibilities of the comic book with the established world and cinematic style of the movie, developer GRIN has created an interesting hybrid. You get the average-Joe likeness of the movie's star, James McAvoy, who dons the costume from the comic book. It's the best of both worlds, with a third element (you know, the whole gameplay thing) that doesn't manage to live up to either.
A third-person cover-to-cover shooter, Wanted has a slick style worthy of the film, but lasts about as long. This isn't Gears of War or a similar cover shooter that moves slowly from point to point. Wanted moves quickly with a cover system that emphasizes chaining from one piece of cover to the next with an interface that shows your available cover options. You can quickly slide behind a crate, then leap over it to a wall, then dive from there to the safety of another crate. The cover button is highly responsive and, without question, this is the one thing Wanted does that is truly excellent. The rest... not so much.
Whether you're playing as Wesley or Cross, you're going to run through the same motions across every linear level. The enemies change only in superficial ways and your strategy stays pretty much the same from start to finish. Get to cover, use your bullet-curving abilities to kill enemies, continue forward.
And yes, you do have the gift to bend bullets just like in the movie/comic book. It's a nifty system, actually. Hold down a shoulder button and the arc of your bullet is projected on screen. You can adjust this with the thumbstick, increasing and decreasing the angle and altering your firing position. The line turns white when the path is clear to the target, red if there is an obstruction. At first, you'll probably spend half a minute getting the shot perfect, but once you get the hang of curved bullets, you'll be able to set up a clean line in a second or two.
Curving bullets doesn't come cheap. You have an adrenaline meter (represented by bullets in the top right corner of the screen). Kill an enemy and you fill up an adrenaline bullet. And it costs one bullet of adrenaline to curve a shot. Should you have the skill to kill enemies in a single curved shot, your meter will constantly be refreshing. But often a bullet won't instantly kill and instead it sends enemies limping into the open (each time with the same animation). You'll see this a few hundred times over the course of Wanted.
Wanted is at its coolest when you get an instant kill with a curved bullet and the camera chooses to follow its path into someone's brain. You'll hear the sound effects from the movie -- you know, truly authentic bullet-into-brain audio -- which is a nice touch. Watching bullets fly in slow motion into the soft fleshy bits of thugs never gets old. Even as the rest of Wanted becomes redundant (a true feat for such a short game), slow-mo bullets into brains remains enjoyable throughout.
But Wanted never takes the idea of curved bullets very far. You never get into interesting situations where you'll do anything more than curve a bullet around a simple piece of cover to cap someone.
Even the boss battles have a sameness to them. You'll either need to curve a bullet to get them out of cover before blasting them in the open or use the slow-mo slide between cover to catch them in the open. Neither proves particularly satisfying.
In an attempt to spice things up, there are several on-rails moments in Wanted. In these special sections, you can't control your character's movements save where he aims. This allows for some cinematic flair. It's not bad, but it does little to keep the very short Weapons of Fate from getting old by the end. Oh, and there is one other shake-things-up moment. Unfortunately, it sucks. Twice you will need to man a turret and take out enemies in a courtyard. Neither time does Wanted clue you in as to how to defend yourself (pro tip: raise the turret up). And you can die in about five seconds without doing this. So the first few times I tried one of these sections, enemies stormed in and I was dead before I blinked.
Wanted has some innovative ideas but never really breaks through at any point. I had fun with it, but there was not a single moment that wowed me. Wanted's real downfall is its length. It took me less than four hours to beat and the replay incentives are piss-poor.
You can try out a few different modes, but none are as good as they sound. There's a Headshot Mode, for example. Sounds cool, right? We all love headshots, after all. But give it a go and you'll find it's just the normal game with the requirement that you kill everyone with headshots. Bo-ring. You can also unlock new characters to play as, but they share Wesley's animations, and because Wanted uses pre-rendered cutscenes, the new character models don't appear in the cinematics.
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