Wanted: Weapons of Fate is not your typical movie tie-in game. For one, it released several months after the film it is based on, but also it comes complete with an original story. That does not stop the game from falling into the same pitfalls most licensed based games do. Shallow gameplay mechanics and a short playtime rear their ugly head as they often do in this type of game. There are some positives elements though. It mimics the style of the film pretty well in addition to having some nicely executed action sequences. You won’t get much out of it at all, but this third person shooter does pack a punch while it lasts.
You play as Wesley Gibson. One night, a team of French police officers storm his apartment and steal a piece of a trinket belonging to his mother. This leads to a bullet-laden adventure involving the Paris Fraternity that will see the player play as both Wesley and his father, Cross, via flashbacks. The story doesn’t require gamers to be familiar with the plot of the movie to comprehend, but it certainly does help.
Aiming and firing is done with the L2 and R2 buttons. The target reticule won’t appear unless you hold down the aiming button, which is hard to do while you are running. The primary gameplay mechanic is the easy to use cover system. Think the cover system from Gears of War only hopped up on steroids, or adrenaline rather. Taking cover is as easy as pressing the X button to stick to applicable surfaces. Saying that taking cover is encouraged would be an understatement. Being out in the open will lead to a quick death and is downright foolish given the amount of options you have from behind cover. From behind cover, you can quickly sprint, roll, or slide to other cover nearby by moving the right analog in that direction and pressing the action button. The system feels intuitive and downright slick as it leads to you getting a clean shot at your enemies time and again.
However, sliding from cover to cover for stop and shoot gameplay is not cool enough for Wanted. This is where the adrenaline based moves come into play. You gain adrenaline by killing enemies, with some moves requiring more of it to execute than others do. The first one you are introduced to is the franchise’s signature bullet-curving technique. Pressing R1 will allow you to angle your shot, perfect for hitting targets hiding behind cover. The enemy will appear red if the angle you have is no good and white if it is. Letting go of the button will let the bullet fly, sometimes in cool slow motion, but thankfully not always. You also eventually gain the ability to enter a bullet time mode when moving from cover to cover by pressing triangle instead of X to move. This allows you to shoot enemies when they have you pinned down before reentering real time.
All the levels play out in a linear fashion with no specific objectives to speak of. Certain points will require you to cover an ally from afar. Sniper and machine gun turrets segments do pop up, providing a mundane respite between the cover-to-cover shooting action. One of the game’s issues is the haphazard way it introduces new gameplay mechanics. There are simple tutorials that cover all the basics and how to use the adrenaline moves, but all of a sudden the games just throws something new at you. Akin to on-rail shooters, one such section will have the character maneuvering wildly through an area shooting at enemies in bullet time. These sections require you to aim and kill the enemy and intercept bullets they fire at you. Shooting away the gunfire can be easy enough but you won’t have enough time to aim back at and finish off the enemy which causes you to die. There is no explanation as to why this happens because no bullets actually hit you most of the time, you just die if you do not kill the bad guy in a timely manner. This flaw comes close to breaking what is otherwise a cool feature of the game.
One of the cooler parts of the game is after you earn the ability to fire explosive swarms of bullets. This standout weapon feels and looks great in action. It also brings to mind another disappointing fault of the game. That fault being a lack of weapon variety; as Wesley you have a single pistol and as Cross you dual wield similar pistols. Eventually you have the option to choose between both a single pistol and dual wielding the fire-spitting light machine guns. A lacking arsenal for a hardened assassin if you ask me.
The game has only one melee attack, used by pressing circle, and it is immensely satisfying to perform. There are multiple brutal animations, usually involving a knife that will make blood splatter gorily across the screen. The melee attack is an automatic kill, serving as a just reward for getting fatally close to an enemy. Speaking of enemies, the computer AI isn’t too bright. There were times when enemies could not hit me when I was out in the open only two feet away. They do know when to take cover but pop out at the strangest times, often right into the line of fire. Some encounters do function as boss battles. But these feel like regular enemies only with more health as they repeat the same patterns repeatedly, and each fight ends with a slow motion bullet to the head.
Wanted is decent enough as far as graphics are concerned. The environments sport some convincing details and lighting. The animation is fluid and the characters models all look like their silver screen counterparts, but you cannot shake the feeling that everything is coated with plastic. Only one actor from the film returns to do voiceovers, but all the other replacements play the rolls well. If you are a fan of the movie, you will be glad to know that the game retains the same abrasive comedic attitude. The music sounds like the traditional action genre cannon, not too bad but not too good either. The story is somewhat engaging, as it does feel like what a probable sequel to the film would be, told through some standard looking CG cut scenes. There are a few glitches such as frame rate drops and even random objects getting in the way during those segments when you have to deflect enemy bullets.
I would call Wanted: Weapons of Fate repetitive, but it is almost too short to say so. There are nine missions and you are essentially doing the same thing throughout, but the game ends just below the six-hour mark. There are collectibles to find; concept art, videos, comic book covers and even playable characters. Playing through as another character gives the exact same experience as playing with Wesley and his father, so there really is no point. There are three difficulties and, of course, trophies/achievements to entice another play through, but doing so will cause the game to feel repetitive fairly soon. There is no multiplayer, but you can unlock other secret modes. The close combat and headshot mode will have you play through the adventure again with a set amount of melee kills or headshots to do in order to clear each area, but at this point the game will feel beyond stale.
Ultimately, Wanted Weapons of Fate comes down to fun and explosive initial play through, barely lasting six hours. Fans of the movie should be pleased with the action on offer, but most will be disappointed by just how little content there is. In the end, Wanted probably is not worth buying but it does make for a thrillingly good rental.