Version tested: Xbox 360
Rubi Malone isn't your typical videogame heroine. She's several of your typical videogame heroines rolled into one. Like Lara, she's pneumatic and acrobatic. Like BloodRayne, she's handy with a sword. Like her out of Mirror's Edge, she has an implausible ability to see potential routes through the environment highlighted in red, like a CSI tracking semen traces left by the Ready Brek man. Like all of them, she wears clothes that are a bit too small.
But the heroine she has most in common with isn't a videogame character at all. WET takes its main inspiration from the Kill Bill films, and like The Bride, Rubi is a high-kicking, sharp-shooting, katana-wielding mercenary who takes down swathes of enemies with one swift movement. Like Kill Bill, WET offers cheap thrills in the grindhouse style, blending endless references to B-movies and Tarantino films with cartoony ultra-violence and a thumping soundtrack.
The storyline is a load of shlocky nonsense which isn't worth recounting, suffice to say it features characters with names like Tarantula, Rat Boy and Kafka Dvorak. Each one is introduced with a freeze-frame and caption, Guy Ritchie-style, and they all say "****" and "****" a lot. Here's some typical dialogue, taken from the scene where Rubi has just blown Rat Boy's hand off with a shotgun:
Rat Boy: You ****ing bitch! **** you!
Rubi: I need information.
Rat Boy: Yeah? Well I need a new hand. So **** you!
Etc. Forgetting the plot for a moment, which is easy to do, the game mainly revolves around shooting and slicing your way through endless waves of baddies. The twist is that Rubi has a Max Payne-style ability to slow down time while she performs spectacular stunts. Press A and she'll leap high into the air, diving and rolling depending on the context; press B and she'll drop to her knees, sliding along the ground as though her shins were made of butter.
Pressing the right trigger makes Rubi fire her dual weapons (pistols to begin with, followed by shotguns, sub-machine guns and so on) in 360 degrees. You can use the right stick to aim one of her guns while the other stays locked-on to a different target, thereby taking down two enemies at once. Alternatively there's the melee combat option - pressing X makes Rubi swish her sword about, chopping off limbs and slicing up guts with lethal efficiency.
The fun begins when you start to combine these moves. It's highly satisfying to jump over the heads of your enemies and take down two of them before you even land, then slip straight into a slide, lean backwards and finish off the men behind you before taking out the baddie up ahead with a fierce sword slash - all in one fluid sequence. The camera does a surprisingly decent job of keeping up with the action and Rubi's animations are just about good enough to carry it all off.
But while it looks impressive, performing a combo like that is extremely easy - you hold down the trigger, press three buttons in slow sequence and fiddle with the right stick a bit. WET is a game which offers instant gratification, but not much in the way of long-term satisfaction. There's no sense of progression and it doesn't feel like you're getting better at controlling Rubi with each level; the enemies just get a bit tougher.