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Wanted: Weapons of Fate [PS3]

Movie adaptations don’t tend to elicit much excitement from the gaming community – all too often film-based games come across as a bit of an afterthought, a cheap cash-in developed to coincide with the release of a movie. So, it’s perhaps no surprise that Wanted: Weapons of Fate hasn’t exactly generated a lot of interest. However, GRIN’s game is a different beast altogether. For one, its release comes nearly a year after the film and it doesn’t simply rehash the same story. Rather, Weapons of Fate sits somewhere between the film and the comic book which inspired it. The result is an action-packed, brash and frequently ludicrous game which is completely in keeping with its origins.Weapons of Fate’s story picks up where the film left off, with Wesley having dismantled the Chicago Fraternity after discovering Sloane’s deception. Despite the obligatory training sections at the beginning of the game, Wesley Gibson is by now a fully-fledged assassin and, when he returns to his apartment to find it being turned over by some SWAT types, you are thrown straight into the action. The SWAT team, it turns out, are members of the French arm of the Fraternity and are apparently keen to put an end to Wesley. While the film focused on Wesley’s (somewhat confused) relationship with his father, the story that unfolds in the game centres on Cross’ relationship with Wesley’s mother (both members of the French Fraternity) and the significance of her pregnancy. You’ll take control of both Wesley and also Cross, in flashback sections designed to flesh out the narrative.It’s testament to GRIN’s respect for the IP that Weapons of Fate’s story sits nicely with its film and comic counterparts. Although not voiced by James McAvoy, Wesley in the game is suitably cynical, wisecracking and occasionally philosophical, providing a monologue throughout. Although this monologue frequently contains some horrible writing – you’ll be treated to the phrases “shit pants” and “dingleberries” within the first half hour – it addresses the same central theme as the film; fate versus self-determination.It’s clear that GRIN has attempted to create gameplay which is equally faithful to the IP. Wesley, after all, is a super assassin and so he needs to have some pretty special tricks at his disposal, although these don’t become available until you progress a little way into the game. On a basic level, Weapons of Fate is a pretty slick cover shooter. Despite the fashionable regenerative health system, Wesley won’t last long in the open and cover is essential to survival. Luckily GRIN has engineered one of the better cover systems we’ve seen in games recently. A simple tap of the X button will drop you in and out of cover where you can blind fire, aim and fire (L2 to aim, R2 to shoot) or move to another piece of cover. The latter is handled particularly well, and essentially allows ‘cover-chaining’ which sees Wesley move very quickly from object to object, only briefly exposing himself to enemy fire. This not only looks pretty cool, it actually has gameplay implications. Throughout the game, you’ll occasionally face enemies carrying large bulletproof shields and it becomes necessary to flank them to get a clear line of sight at their body. To do this, you’ll need to suppress the enemy through blind-fire, at which point a grey-ish filter indicates that flanking is possible. Then you must quickly manoeuvre to another piece of cover which allows you a clear shot. It’s not exactly a tactical tour-de-force, but the flanking system at least adds a degree of strategy to the game, and will be of benefit throughout.{PAGE TITLE=Wanted: Weapons of Fate Review Continued}However, it’s Wesley’s special abilities that make things a little more interesting. As explained in the film, what he assumed were panic attacks were actually symptoms of his ability to slow down time. What this means in gameplay terms, is bullet time. I know, it’s hardly revolutionary given that Max Payne was doing this back in 2001 (in fact WoF has a distinctly Max Payne feel about it at times), but it not only looks nice, it becomes essential as the game progresses. When you’re cowered behind cover with a sniper waiting for you to pop up and multiple grunts pointing shotguns in your general direction, it’s immensely satisfying to leap out of cover in bullet time and take out four enemies in one fell swoop. For the sake of balance, GRIN doesn’t allow you to drop into bullet-time whenever you feel like it – first you must fill up your adrenaline meters through regular kills and then you’ll be able to slow down time and also curve your bullet trajectory.Yes, you can, somewhat ludicrously, bend bullets in Wanted. A quick flick of the wrist, according to the film, is all it requires and after a couple of levels you’ll acquire the ability. What we initially feared would be a pointless gimmick, however, is actually essential if you plan on finishing the game. If you don’t have a clear line of sight on your enemy, you can simply hold down R1 which brings up an indicator of your bullet trajectory. A red curve means it won’t hit the target so you need to move your shot until the curve turns white. At that point, release R1 and the bullet will fly off towards the target, displaying a pretty tasty bullet-cam cutscene if you manage to hit the target in the noggin. It’s a very well-implemented system and some of the bosses you face cannot be killed without it.       Unfortunately, the boss battles are some of the weakest portions of the game. They generally rely on using one or both of your special abilities repeatedly, filling up your adrenaline bar by killing the grunts who show up whenever you run out. As you’re supposed to be fighting equally gifted assassins in the boss battles, you would hope for a little more variety, and difficulty. In fact, one of our main criticisms of the game is that it is both very easy and very short, an unfortunate combination if you’ve just forked out 40 quid for the game.There is also some inconsistency in the quality of the levels. While the game does feature some iconic locations from the film (the Chicago textile mill for instance), some are pretty drab and not even the game’s luscious visuals can rescue them. In addition you’ll have to contend with some seemingly interminable sniper and mounted-machine gun sections which are about as fun as a boot to the spuds and twice as painful. For some reason, GRIN also saw fit to include some curious on-rails bullet-time sections which see Wesley (or Cross) leaping about the place in slow motion as you simply control the aiming reticule. These sections were clearly included for cinematic effect, but it would have been nice to have more control over the acrobatics.However, when the game does reach its peak (the aeroplane level in particular is spectacular) it’s hard not be impressed by the action-packed chaos in Weapons of Fate. As you chain from cover to cover, bending bullets and taking out multiple enemies in bullet time, you get the sense that GRIN has captured the essence of the super assassin pretty well. There’s nothing revolutionary in the game – some of its ideas are downright ancient – but, like the summer action film, Weapons of fate, for the most part, is exactly what you want from a Wanted game; a brain-at-the-door, often puerile, action-packed shooter.


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