Wanted was a spectacular movie, introducing many to the original comic it was based on. Now the franchise has been brought into another medium, and the results are sadly mixed. Despite enormous potential for Wanted in game form, this feels rushed, lacking ideas, and barely tested level designs.
To be clear, Wanted Weapons of Fate is quite playable. This third-person shooter does what it needs to, including a solid cover system, unique bullet curving, and increasingly intense action. Visuals are strong aside from ugly artifacting and screen tearing during the cinematics (to the point that some are completely unwatchable).
Serving as both a prequel and a sequel to the film, Wanted’s game picks up not long after the film ended, with players controlling Wesley Gibson. In alternate levels, you’ll flashback to control his father. It nicely fills in the plotline for those interested even without the film actors handling voice-overs.
Wanted uses a rather poor aiming system in which the longer you move the stick, the quicker the reticule moves. That’s fine when a minor adjustment is needed, but the rapid change in speed can send the players aim careening off the target. On the opposite end, it can feel sluggish. There’s no happy medium.
Bullet curving is introduced early, and is an effective weapon. Levels and enemy AI are designed around it. You’re limited in how often you can do this by a bullet meter at the top of the screen. Holding the right bumper allows the player to adjust the trajectory, and letting go fires the shot. It’s somewhat touchy, and canceling the shot requires a press of the B button, undoubtedly awkward in execution.
Later levels try and increase the coolness of this move by adding explosive bullets, and it works. However, it’s irritating to be stuck with the same gun for almost the entire game. Enemies use shotguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, and grenades, yet the player has a pistol. Canned moments let the player use a turret and a sniper rifle, but the latter can’t be carried with the player. The final few levels allow for some SMG action, but then the repetition has set in.
Irritating quick-time events grow old in the final stages which overuse them. What they need more of are the slow motion cinematics, which resemble a classic light gun shooter. The game inter-cuts a cinema with player controlled slow-mo action and the effect is wonderful. It captures the feel of the film more so than the basic pop-and-shoot mechanic everything else is based on.
It’s made worse by the design of the last two levels. The game moves briskly, so it needed something to extend playtime. However, simply padding the game with repeating sections, countless enemy assaults, and the worst staircase fight since Ghostbusters on the NES (and other incarnations) is not the way to handle things. By this point, the game has seemingly run out of ideas, so it lets the player loose with all available power but it simply seems as if it never ends.
Unlockables include the ability to play as different characters, although there’s no actual gameplay benefit. There are tons of unlockable galleries, but nothing to make you feel as if you spent $60 wisely. Only die-hard fans of the franchise will spend the time to find all of the items in the game.
For a while, when Wanted has momentum, it comes away as a fine movie tie-in. As it goes on, it begins to fall apart as the inadequate clunky controls become an issue, and the level design can’t keep up the excitement. A rental will serve Wanted fans just fine.