Short games seem to come part-and-parcel with any movie license these days. It’s often that we see movie-games rushed out to coincide with the release of the movie its based on and more often than not the end result is far less than impressive. In a somewhat tragic truth, it’s understandable that these games just never had the chance to be any good, because the developer never truly had the time/resources/ability/dedication. In saying that, is it understandable that Wanted: Weapons of Fate, a direct sequel to the movie, is so terribly short? No, it’s not. However, this title is a perfect example of how length doesn’t necessarily dictate quality and how a movie license shouldn’t automatically condemn a game. That’s not saying that Weapons of Fate is a fantastic game, because it’s far from it. But it is a decent cover-and-shoot game that should entertain fans of both the movie and original comic.
Wanted: Weapons of Fate is a movie-game, even though its release is far beyond that of the films theatrical release and DVD launch. It has the same look, feel and character personalities as the film and while it makes more references to the original comic than the movie does, this is without a doubt a game based on the Wanted movie rather than the original Wanted source material. It should still appeal to fans of the comic though, because it makes notable attempts to make up for the lack of reference to the original story in the film. If you’re familiar with the comic, you’ll recognize particular characters, locations and costumes and while at its core this title feels like (and is) a direct sequel to the movie, it does a decent job of implementing some aspects of the comic book into the experience, which is more than what the movie did for fans of the original.
The game takes place after the movie as you help Wesley solve the mystery surrounding his mother’s death and his fathers past. The Wanted narrative was never all that strong to begin with, but Weapons of Fate really takes the story down to a new low. It’s not that it completely fails, but the fact that you don’t need to know the comics or have seen the movie to understand it represents how shallow it really is. It’s understandable if GRIN wanted to develop a game and come up with a story that can appeal to both fans and those new to the franchise, but the story just comes off as incredibly weak and dull, as if the characters have no real history or purpose. It doesn’t make you want to know the characters, especially Wesley, and this is disappointing considering his purpose in the story.
The really disappointing aspect is that the action scenes represent absolutely nothing. In the comic and to a larger extent the film, each action sequence had a purpose. It had some direction in the story. In Weapons of Fate, you’re merely thrown into a warehouse against a hoard of operatives, only to find out at the end of the 20-minute gun battle that the leader is some dude that is trying to kill you. Had there been some connection between Wesley and that person then it probably would have been far more engaging, but there’s barely any interaction and the whole area feels like a waste.
Thankfully, the gunplay makes up for the shortcomings in the narrative. The gameplay isn’t perfect by any means, but the game makes it worth the time to unlock all of Wesley’s special shooting abilities. There’s a sense of realism in the fact that you can carry limited ammo and weapons and most of the time you’ll be shooting your way through with a handgun, but the actions you can unlock and use make it all worthwhile, especially when you move into an area filled with enemies. GRIN have done a really good job of implementing probably the most important aspect of the action scenes from the movie and Wesley’s special moves definitely add a whole new level of enjoyment to the combat.
The only downfall of the gunplay is the inclusion of a terrible sniper-rifle and fixed machine gun. The sniper rifle is limited in movement and zoom, making it almost impossible to use effectively, and the fixed machine-gun doesn’t allow you to take cover behind the shield while firing. This leaves you vulnerable to oncoming fire, so to heal yourself during combat you’ll have to stop firing, duck, wait for your health to fill back up before firing again.
With all of the old and new special moves put in, none of them are as important (or fun) as the curving bullets ability. There’s a covering system that helps you get through early parts of the game, but once you’ve figured out how to curve bullets you’ll be blasting through areas with ease, which is a lot of fun. You can take cover for a moment before bursting out and taking out a whole bunch of enemies with one bullet and it’s a gameplay feature that has really captured the imagination of the comic and movie.
The great thing about the curving bullets feature is that it has been implemented really well. Once you build up enough adrenaline by killing enemies, you hit the right shoulder button and use the left thumb stick to align the bullet trajectory to the head. There’s a “bullet time” feature as well that lets you move through the area and shoot down enemies in slow-motion, much like in Max Payne, but it’s nowhere near as fun or effective as curving bullets.
Weapon of Fate’s presentation is somewhat of a mixed bag. It has the look and feel of the movie, which is great, but the voice acting is generally terrible and the dialogue even worse at times. GRIN have failed completely to grasp the witty and crude humour from the movie, instead including potty humour and a few rude words that should entertain most five year-olds. Graphically, it doesn’t stand up to heavyweights, but it does an OK job with decent textures and environments. Character design is good and the grainy orange-like effect from the movie and comic gives it a distinctive feel.
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There are a few graphical glitches and interiors are sometimes too dark to see what you’re doing. Furthermore, the camera loses the plot a couple of times when moving Wesley round corners or round a pillar in a building. The covering mechanic is a bit flunky sometimes, not allowing you to move to another piece of cover one second, before becoming dislodged and allowing you to move the next second.