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Rubi, Rubi, Wet

| 28 Apr 2009 16:48
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Rubi is a fixer. She fixes things.

Standing on the roof of a downtown building, looking down through the glass skylight at a deal going down in the room below, Rubi sees something that needs fixing. The deal is about to go south and the case being haggled over is about to slip out the back door, in the hands of someone who shouldn't have it.

As the bullets start spraying, Rubi tenses up, gets ready to do some fixing, and launches herself through the skylight.

The game is Wet and you play as Rubi in a grindhouse-esque, funk-fueled, 70's retro cinema-inspired acrobatic shooter/sword fighter action flick. It's a fast-paced, high-energy, high body-count thrill ride of a game, with very little point other than to artistically slaughter as many enemies as possible.

You will run along walls, flip over backwards, train your twin guns on two separate enemies, knee slide under obstacles and behead your opponents. You will kill people in ways you've never imagined and the entire time you will be wearing a wide, goofy grin.

Triggering one of Rubi's signature moves initiates a kind of bullet-time slow-motion, allowing you to focus your fire on one or more enemies as you careen off walls and swing off of lamp posts or slide head-first down a ladder, using your legs. The effect is stunning. It's a kind of ode to violence-as-art form that, frankly, considering the medium, has been a long time coming. And although some may cry foul at the design of the main character, it only makes sense that she's a woman.

The developers claim the title, Wet, is inspired by the kind of work Rubi performs. So-called "wet-work" which involves spilling lots of blood. And that it, and her design, are not, in fact an attempt to sell the game with sex. Fine. They can pretend. Look for the game's website (www.rubiwet.com) or take a look at any of the promotional materials (thong peeking out the back of low-rise leather pants, breasts straining against leather top) and it's clear they aren't fooling anyone - not even themselves.

It's a toss-up what you'll be focusing on more as Rubi acrobatically twirls her way through geysers of blood, the enemies being slain, or her perfect, sexy form. It doesn't matter. Fun is fun, and this game doesn't skimp on the action just because it's trying to cock tease.

The story was penned by the writer of seasons one through five of the TV show 24, so you can expect plenty of twists and turns and high-volume action. The game is also just dripping with 70s style, complete with a film reel visual effect which makes the world look slightly grainy and jittery. (You can turn this off if it annoys.)

As she dashes through levels, Rubi will occasionally enter "arena" areas, skate parks of death where the challenge is to slay as many enemies as possible period, while targeting specific trigger points to end the level. She will also, in certain circumstances, enter "rage mode" in which the screen will turn a vibrant black on red and her powers will be heightened.

The trick is to chain her signature moves and accumulate points. The designers wanted to make it easier and more fun to engage in signature combat than to simply run around shooting things. There are plenty of games where you can do that. But how many games bring to mind the Crazy 88s scene from Tarantino's Kill Bill? Not many. Wet aims to be one of them.

"Whiskey is useful to numb the pain," Rubi says as she swills from a bottle to restore her health, then takes up the sword and gun one more time to clear another room of bad guys.

Wet will be released in the Fall of 2009 for PS3 and Xbox 360.

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