Long read: Who is qualified to make a world?

In search of the magic of maps.

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Splash bang wallop.

We may not have written about it all that often over the past two years, but Artificial Mind and Movement's WET has actually been sloshing around the industry for quite some time, running through the fingers of various publishers and eventually trickling into a pail owned by Bethesda Softworks just a few months ago.

In those several years, A2M hasn't changed a lot. Look back to Ellie's August 2007 preview and many of the details remain intact: you're still a gun-for-hire called Rubi Malone, who manoeuvres acrobatically around each level firing twin pistols with independent targeting and hacking people up with swords. It's still aiming for a "unique retro film visual treatment" with grainy filters and seventies-inspired music. When Bethesda says A2M is working with 24's story editor Duppy Demetrius on the script, one assumes he filed a while ago, given that Vivendi was also bigging him up in 2007.

In other words, this is a case of publishers dragging their feet, and not one of those mid-life development rethinks that are so fashionable at the moment (I'm looking at you, Borderlands - and you're looking hot). But whatever it is, the important point is that we've never actually got round to playing it before. Not until today - and, appropriately enough, against a backdrop of thunder and lightning out the window.

The demo in question is the same as the one Christian described over someone's shoulder in April, and begins with Rubi perched on a statue peering down through the glass ceiling of a massive atrium, where a pair of unlikely criminals thrash out a deal for a donor organ in a snazzy briefcase. On the left, a burly man in a wheelchair with a mechanical larynx, and opposite him, a squirmy Asian gentleman in a leopard-print suit jacket. But it's a double-cross! Asian gentleman makes a run for it with money and goods, and wheelchair man crashes to the floor, followed shortly by Rubi, who hurls herself into action.

Rubi's slow-motion gunplay is similar to Stranglehold, and isn't limited by a meter.

This bit is technically the tutorial, but it doesn't take long to catch the game's gist. Rubi has a pair of pistols, one of which automatically targets a nearby enemy with a star-shaped reticule, sending a stream of bullets his way as long as you hold the right trigger. Meanwhile, you can direct a second stream of bullets with a smaller, circular reticule, meaning that your gunplay focus is more on right-stick movement than your trigger finger, which is permanently clamped.

Rubi can jump with one button, slide along the ground on her knees with another and wall-run with left-trigger, and whenever she does any of these the action switches into Stranglehold-style slow motion (bear in mind Stranglehold came out after we first saw Wet in action), making it easier to target your enemies. Rubi's acrobatics can also be used to latch onto handily placed trapeze bars, and there are plenty of industrial pallets leaning against crates to form convenient ramps. At one stage I fall to Rubi's doom by prematurely grabbing for the A button as if to charge a jump in an ATV game, reflecting the game's speed of movement and assault-course level design.