Review: Wanted: Weapons of Fate

Movie games are likely to suck, no matter what the property attached to it is. Case in point: the Watchmen game was downright horrible, as well as a host of other movie-to-game translations that have come down the pipeline over the years. Wanted: Weapons of Fate is considered to be an adaptation of the movie (remember it? Angelina Jolie?), though it doesn’t follow the storyline laid out within. Instead, you follow Wesley on his next assignment as a fledgling assassin through a game heavily inspired by Gears of War that doesn’t completely fail, and is quite acceptable – for a movie game.

As a continuation of the movie that hit last summer featuring voluptuous Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy, to name a couple, Wanted: Weapons of Fate draws much more of its inspiration from the graphic novel. Officially, it begins five hours beyond the movie’s ending, with gamers stepping into the persona of one Wesley Gibson, the son of an assassin who must get to the bottom of his mother’s death, by none other than the Fraternity he belongs to. While most of your game will see you taking control of Wesley, every so often you’ll be faced with flashback missions to take out baddies as Wesley’s father, Cross. If you were a fan of the movie, chances are you’ll find the continuation quite satisfying, as it does tend to tie up a few loose ends and answer some questions you may have had after viewing. Other than the fact that it presents a keen opportunity for fans of the movie and/or comic to get more of their Wanted fix, this is your typical “you killed Mommy, I kill you” story that brings nothing relatively new to the table. No discernible plot twists, unforeseeable circumstances, or anything particularly noteworthy here. That works out fine, as the game follows suit.

If you’ve ever played Gears of War, Dark Sector, or even 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, then you should have quite the handle on how Wanted: Weapons of Fate unfolds. The action takes place over Wesley’s shoulder – familiar, much? As you navigate Wesley throughout the nine missions, you’ll notice WoF’s heavy, almost crippling reliance on its cover system. In fact, that will be one of the very first things that you should take note of. Rather than going in guns blazing, nine times out of ten you will be forced into cover. While this brings a hint of realism with it, it’s also quite obnoxious. If you step out from behind cover for even a quick, few seconds, death is almost certain. This makes playing (which should obviously be fun) feel much more like a slow bog through uninspired environments.

When Wesley isn’t cowering behind whichever random barrel, wall, or structure he can find, he can do one of a couple things: curve bullets via the right bumper in order to take out enemies behind walls or cover, and “enhanced quick movement,” which translates to bullet time under a fancy, different name. As you progress through the story you’ll gain access to these skills which are put into check by the adrenaline system. Adrenaline is depleted when Wes curves a bullet or uses a quick movement. You can regain it just as easily by taking out a random baddie. While curving bullets should have been a high point of the game, seeing as it played such a big role in the movie, it’s disappointingly lackluster. When you choose to curve, a thin line will be displayed. When it turns white, you’re good to slap a bullet in the back of someone’s head. However, this tactic is not always very dependable. You will often have to land a couple different shots in order to down the baddies. This quickly becomes less “cool” than it is tedious, and you’ll want to rely more on direct hits rather than attempting curved shots. Random curved shots will be accompanied by a flyover presenting the bullet you shot embedding itself into some poor sap’s head, but not even those moments make it any more interesting.

Wes’s main weapon is a pistol, which means you’ll be whittling away at enemies’ health for a good while throughout the game, lest you’re braving Cross’s sections. This detracted from the experience for me. For one thing, using a pistol the entire way through detracts from the feeling of being a true assassin. Plus, pistols are just a bit frustrating to mow through hordes of enemies with. The firepower just isn’t there, even if you can curve bullets. Luckily the lack of firepower is made up with the amount of explosive barrels littered throughout several of the missions.

Aside from shootouts with a bevy of enemies, players will find themselves in different areas in each mission. They consist of sniping/turret sections, simple quick-time events, and then forced bullet-time sequences where you must employ deadly accuracy or attempt the entire scenario all the way over again. Admittedly, these do break the monotony a bit, as the stop-and-shoot gameplay can get ridiculously repetitive. However, it always feels like an exercise in “is this all they could come up with?” Often, you’ll feel a sense of true deja vu, as you have seen every single aspect of this game in others, in some shape or form. It’s as if the developers took every single third-person shooter cliche, rolled it up into one, and slapped the Wanted name on it. It’s no fallacy when one says you’ve seen all of these conventions before.

Much like its story and gameplay, Wanted looks very worn-out and stale. Character models have a rather bulbous look akin to the Nintendo 64. While attention to detail on some NPCs is admirable, as a whole both the surroundings and textures are extremely disappointing. Wesley looks a bit stiff, and more cartoony than he really should, especiallly considering the source material. It’s hard not to laugh at some of the cringeworthy expressions many of the characters have, especially Wes’s mother.

These are some extremely average graphics. If you’re an elitist and you only base major game purchases based on how they look, you’ll want to pass this up ASAP, though you can tell from the screen shots that it isn’t the most visually compelling title available.

To be honest, the orchestral fare was nothing more than acid techno with bits of Danny Elfman’s score to the movie sprinkled in for good measure. The ending credits saw the addition of “The Little Things,” a rocking anthem heard throughout the movie as well. Nothing memorable here, though. What does tend to make up for the surprising lack of originality in the game overall is the voice talent of Jimmi Simpson, stepping in for James McAvoy. His quips made as you progress as Wesley are hilariously bad one-liners that will make you cringe as much as they will make you giggle. Most of the cast couldn’t be arsed to come back on and record some simple dialogue for the game (save for Morgan Freeman, who apparently will do anything and everything), but Simpson personifies Wesley in a way McAvoy did not, at least in terms of voice acting. If you find the game to drag on at any point, which you may be wont to do, Simpson’s bits of “wisdom” will keep you playing simply to see what he has to say next.

Wanted: Weapons of Fate can be completed in 4-6 hours, depending on your skill level and how dogged you are with finding unlockables. Lo and behold, it’s also devoid of a multiplayer mode. I suppose this is an admirable move, since tacking on a multiplayer mode these days to games that aren’t even fun when you’re flying solo seems to be the norm. If you have the patience to play through it multiple times, there are various different modes and costumes to unlock, and three different difficulties with stacking achievements on the 360 edition. I surmise you won’t want to be playing it that long, though.

If you really can’t get enough of all of the lame, cookie-cutter shooters that have been released as of late, then pick this up. Okay, perhaps that’s a bit too harsh. If you enjoyed the movie and want to see a bit of a continuation that doesn’t involve picking up a book, then settle down with this for a few hours. It’s not terrible, but it’s not going to be winning any awards anytime soon. Still, as far as movie games go, this is the cream of the crop (and that’s saying something.) But for the love of bards that are spoony, don’t pay for it. This kind of adventure is meant to be enjoyed as a rental at best. It certainly doesn’t warrant a full purchase.

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