LICENSE TO THRILL? #18: Wanted: Weapons of Fate (2009)

Mark Millar’s comic book not only spawned a movie but a video game based on said movie. But is it any good?

Who made it?: Grin (Developer), Universal Studios (Publisher).

Genre: Third-Person Shooter.

Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC.

Format: Blu-ray disc, DVD.

Released: March 17, 2009.

Videogames developed from movie licenses are understandably subpar. Delving into that long list of mediocre titles isn’t something I should have to do for the experienced gamer, but if titles like the Atari 2600’s E.T, the NES’s Hudson Hawk, and the PlayStation’s Street Fighter: The Movie are any indication, developers wanting to make a quick buck seems to win out over quality gameplay.

But there are a number of exceptions; the most notable among them being Starbreeze Studios’ stealth/shooter The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, EA’s The Godfather, and the love them/hate them Matrix titles from Shiny. Granted, movie licensed games are not totally without flaw and are seen more as “good for what they are” than “good… period.” Grin Games’ Wanted: Weapons of Fate falls under that same category. It is an all-too-brief, all-too-simple, all-too-linear shooter that spiritually successes the hit film, Wanted (2008). It picks up only moments where the James McAvoy/Morgan Freeman/Angelina Jolie vehicle left off and allows players to further main character Wesley Gibson’s story, as well as delve deeper into the past of his mysterious father, Cross.

As far as movie tie-ins are concerned, Wanted: Weapons of Fate is one of the better ones. It allows the player to do nearly everything seen in the film at the movie’s same rapid-fire pace. For better or worse, the Wanted film was a big, dumb action flick and the game is just as big and dumb. Slow-motion shooting, bullet-curving, absolutely inane stunts, and dumbfounding linearity are about all this one offers up. Boss fights are rather fun, but ultimately pointless due to lax difficulty, and the game’s non-stop shootouts do eventually become repetitious after about a good two hours of play time.

Firefights are all presented the same way in that Wesley or Cross attach themselves to cover by you, the player, pressing X. You can move to adjacent pieces of cover by holding the left stick in the direction of the object and pressing X again. This can be done ad nausea to create a system Grin has dubbed “cover-chaining.” It creates the illusion of fast-paced “shooting-and-dodging” firefights even if both Wesley and Cross move rather sluggishly outside of running to cover. The entire point of the game is to keep moving and firing with rarely a pause in the action. At that, the game succeeds. Bullet-curving is also a must. Not only an incredibly cool aspect of the game, but it also lures enemies out of hiding when not instantly killed and allows the player character to drop them on the spot.

The so-far-unmentioned adrenaline meter allows for the use of the bullet-curving ability, as well as Wanted‘s take on bullet-time and, when they are available, firing grenades from twin SMGs. Wesley and Cross max out with four bars of adrenaline at game’s end (you start with none, working your way up to one, then two, etc…), and each use of one of the listed special abilities may deplete up to one, two or three bars at a time.

Other interesting additions made to Weapons of Fate are on-rails segments where both Wesley and Cross must shoot frozen enemies and bullets (a reference to the movie characters’ heightened reaction time and reflexes). The sequences play out mostly as cut-scenes, but are somewhat interactive when the game makes it mandatory to shoot down incoming bullets and enemies within a given time. I found these sequences to be quite exciting and more involving than your standard Quick Time gameplay, which Weapons of Fate also dishes out on occasion. I can’t say I was too impressed with the turret and sniping segments, though they did make for some nice variety.

Most surprising about Wanted: Weapons of Fate is that it sticks so closely to the source material. The art direction is top-notch and it beautifully matches the movie’s high-contrast greens and dark blacks. Character models are large and well-modelled, though not as finely detailed as other, more budget-oriented games. Environments are rather drab and offer nothing new in the way of level design, but they look like locations straight out of the movie which I will certainly give Grin credit for. And the cut-scenes may not be the prettiest, but thumbs up for making the McAvoy model actually look like James McAvoy. Other aspects of the game are serviceable, if not impressive.

Wanted: Weapons of Fate is certainly not a must-buy title. If you play through it quick enough, you could probably finish this sucker in four/five hours, maybe six hours tops. It’s an incredibly short game and while I’m no stickler for game length, plopping down the money for a five hour game when it was brand new is, admittedly, a bit much. It’s a solid shooter with some interesting gameplay mechanics and a wonderful adaptation of the source material, but it should definitely be picked up on the cheap. I should also warn potential buyers of some technical problems inherent in the game. It didn’t happen to everyone, but both Xbox 360 and PS3 users reported consistent lock-ups which sometimes corrupting the save data. Thankfully, there is apparently a patch to quell this rather vexing issue. Otherwise, Weapons of Fate is a fun shooter (while it lasts).

Useless Trivia

(Via IMDb)
  • Weapons of Fate uses expanded and looped musical cues from the Wanted: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Danny Elfman. In addition, the track “The Little Things”, performed by Elfman, was remixed by British music outfit Unkle to be used as the game’s title song. The Wanted: Weapons of Fate – The Little Things (UNKLE Variation) [Soundtrack from the Video Game] – Single was sold as a digital download as of the 31st of March, 2009.
  • During the scene with The Russian and Araña when they are talking, she mentions “The Killer” or “Son of The Killer”. In the graphic novel, Wesley’s father is the original “Killer” and Wesley is the current “Killer”. The outfit Wesley wears (as seen on the cover), is also a connection, as the film makes no use of costumes. And one of the characters mentions Seltzer who is the leader of the North American sect of the Fraternity who gets killed by one of Rictus’ men named Shithead.

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