As action movies drift farther and farther into the realm of absurdity, the long-troubled marriage between film and games begins to make more sense. Warner Bros' Wanted was so tacky, over-the-top, and distanced from reality, it felt like watching someone play game. It only makes sense, then, that a licensed tie-in has arrived to bring the brain-dead bullet slinging to the 360, PC, and PlayStation 3.
Hot off the heels of the surprise hit Bionic Commando Rearmed, GRIN is enjoying a wave of new-found credibility. Boasting a novel "curved-bullet" mechanic, Wanted: Weapons of Fate has quite a bit going for it. Unfortunately the optimism surrounding this release is misplaced.
The components are there on paper. Wanted isn't a game with glaring technical flaws, the graphics are more than solid, and the feel is authentic to the source material. The foundation is familiar – a cover-based third-person shooter that shamelessly pilfers the winning formula established by Gears of War. You'll transition fluidly between pieces of cover, and even enjoy a couple novel twists (more on this later), but no matter how you add it up, Wanted is just painfully bare.
It's not that the levels are badly designed in terms of flow or logic. GRIN clearly understands the fundamentals of game design, but within a few minutes, you'll have completely experienced most of what the game has to offer. You'll fight the same enemies over and over through completely linear, narrow stages that allow precious little exploration. After a while it all starts to feel like playing Time Crisis without a light gun. There aren't even multiple weapons until the last two stages, and even then it's just a choice of two handguns. The much-touted bullet-curving mechanic offers a ray of hope, but once it's introduced you realize it's just a cheap lock-on hit to help you knock out enemies at long distance or those behind cover. That's about the extent of it.
After a while it all starts to feel like Time Crisis without a light gun.
Those that are taken with the movie tie-in will at least find it represented well, but let's face it: Wanted is hardly a cinematic classic. Everything here is big and dumb, just like it was on screen. You'll get a sandwich of sequel and prequel as you follow the story of Wesley and his father Cross as they use their super-assassin abilities to fight an ancient league of killers. The plot is unimportant, because it's all about the action. Alas, Weapons of Fate almost seems to pride itself in being not only over-the-top, but mind-searingly stupid.
Just how stupid? Imagine, if you will, that you find yourself in the cockpit of a passenger jet hurtling straight down toward the ground, and the bad guy just escaped with the last parachute. What is your bad-ass action hero to do? Well, lesser super-assassins would have settled for leaping out of the plane and having a mid-air fight with the escaping villain, but that's not stupid enough for Wanted; not by a long shot. No, Cross decides it would be better to climb vertically through the falling airliner for several minutes, toward the back, commandeer a conveniently-placed Dodge Viper that happens to be stowed there, and then drive it out of the plane right before impact and ride it down a snowy mountain. At a certain point it ceases to be cool and you might as well just have him snowboard around the moon and back with a Mountain Dew in his hand.
While I usually avoid assessments of dollar value in reviews, a word of warning is deserved in this case. This entire game is only about three hours long, there is no multi-player, and a handful of challenge modes like Time-Attack and Headshot Mode do little to really liven up the experience since the game is remarkably easy to begin with. Some token items to unlock concept art and other galleries offer only the barest artificial incentive for replay, and collecting them doesn't actually offer any unique challenge. $60 means more to some than others, but at the very least I can say it could be better spent.
This is a very short, very repetitive, and mind-numbingly simple game that can be explored in entirety in a couple of sittings. Those hoping to find the next Max Payne or Stranglehold won't find it here. The quality production values and solid control seem wasted on a stark foundation that won't satisfy anyone. Much like its movie counterpart, this game is vapid and utterly devoid of substance, you'll wonder why they even bothered.