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LIT?

Welcome to Lost in Translation? – the Ready Up series where we look at the rocky two-way road of media adapted from video games and games based on films and TV shows, in a bid to decide whether the juice was worth the squeeze, or if what made the source material great in the first place got lost in translation.

Last time on LIT? we took a look at a tie-in videogame that was a prequel to its respective source material. This time we’re heading in the opposite direction, casting our gaze over a game that acted as a sequel to its filmic inspiration. Receiving the LIT? treatment this time – Wanted: Weapons of Fate.

As with the last time on LIT?this blog contains spoilers, as we’ll be covering the events of the film Wanted, especially its ending. You have been warned!

Released into cinemas in June 2008, Wanted told the tale of Wesley, an everyday average office-worker who, after years of being decidedly normal, discovered his father was an international hitman capable of superhuman feats. Feats which, after much training, Wesley learns for himself. Starring James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman, and directed by Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch, Day Watch and the more recent Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter) here’s the trailer:

Coming out significantly later than its cinematic counterpart, launching in March 2009, Wanted: Weapons of Fate picks up mere moments after the end of the film Wanted – Wesley is now fully in command of his abilities, the Fraternity has been wiped out, and all seems well. That is, until Wesley soon comes to realise that the other international chapters of the Fraternity are very much alive and somewhat pissed that the young upstart has killed so many of its members. Wesley must battle his way through scores of enemies while trying to track down ‘The Immortal’, the man who knows the truth about Wesley’s mysterious past. Also interspersed are flashback levels where the player takes control of Cross, Wesley’s father, which details his own conflict with The Immortal. The game looked somewhat like this:

Developed by the now-defunct GRIN, probably best known for the 2009 Bionic Commando reboot, Wanted: Weapons of Fate is a third-person shooter, relying heavily on cover mechanics and its unique selling point – the ability to curve the trajectory of a bullet. According to Metacritic, the game earned a fairly middling 62 out of 100 for its PC and Xbox 360 incarnations, with 61 out of 100 for its PS3 version. But is it deserving of such a middle-of-the-road reputation? Did the game have any redeeming features? Let’s take a closer look.

What it got right

First things first – Wanted: Weapons of Fate is quite fun. Sweary, bloody, gratuitous fun. Maintaining the tongue-in-cheek tone of the film, nothing is to be taken too seriously in this game, which is quite refreshing. Borrowing more heavily from the comic series that inspired the film than the movie ever did, the world of Wanted: Weapons of Fate is stylised, heightened and a bit daft at times – a great place to spend a few hours.

Gameplay takes the form of sticking closely to the many cover points littered throughout a stage and picking off the dumb enemies who will poke their heads around the corner – and crikey, the enemies are dumb in this game. You quickly unlock the ability to curve bullets, which proves to be incredibly satisfying once you have the basics down – hold a shoulder button and a curved line appears between you and your target. If the line is white, the shot is clean; if the line is red, you need to reposition the trajectory using the right thumbstick. Initially a little cumbersome but within a short time pulling off such shots becomes second nature and the game’s flow speeds up considerably.

Reprising their roles from the movie are Thomas Kretschmann as Cross, Wesley’s father, and Terence Stamp as bullet-maker Pekwarsky, with the rest of the cast made up of so-so soundalikes. Also making an appearance as a character who doesn’t appear in the film, is Peter Stormare (Fargo, Prison Break) as arch-villain The Immortal.

What it got wrong

The main criticisms that can be levelled toward Wanted: Weapons of Fate are due to its simplicity, its easiness and its length. The game is strictly linear, with the same few enemy-types appearing in the exact same spots and hiding behind the exact same cover for you to shoot around or over. Strategy is pretty unnecessary throughout the game, and the bullet-curving shots you can deliver are so easy to earn and pull-off that regular enemies barely put up a fight. Boss fights aren’t much more tricky, requiring some simple patterns to be learnt and circumnavigated.

Equally disappointing is that the game is short, with most players seeing the end credits within five or six hours. While this means that the game’s simplicity never has the chance to outstay its welcome, it does mean that as a value-for-money prospect the game is somewhat lacking. Still, given its age, you should be able to pick up Wanted: Weapons of Fate for a fraction of its original asking price.

The Verdict

A fine choice for a rental, Wanted: Weapons of Fate is a guilty pleasure through and through. Daft, over-the-top, gratuitous and pleasingly simple, this is far from a masterpiece but an acceptable way to spend a few hours. A solid adaptation.

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