I’ve never belonged to a shadowy underworld organization. I don’t even know anyone who has—or, at least, no one’s told me about it. But I do know this: If crime syndicates ever held yearly conventions in, say, Cleveland, and Rubi Malone set up a booth there, she’d likely attract quite a bit of traffic—even if she wasn’t giving out free key chains.
Ruby is what’s called, in crime-syndicate parlance, a “fixer.” She’s someone who fixes “problems” (translation: people) with a well-timed bullet or brutal sword slash. Rubi’s so good at her job that she can fix dozens of problems at once, all while leaping like a gazelle or sliding across the floor on her knees or running sideways on walls. Turn Rubi loose on the Taliban, and America’s troops in Afghanistan would likely be home by dinner.
Turning Rubi loose in a family living room—well, that’s another matter entirely.
Wet—as in Blood
Rubi stars in a game called WET, so dubbed because Rubi specializes in “wet work,” so named because her hands become slick with other people’s blood. She’s ostensibly doing a good deed—delivering a heart to a hospital so a dying man can live. But in order to save this one gangster, she must kill about 6 gazillion others, so the math and the morality get a little fuzzy.
Not that most folks who’ll pick up a game like this are particularly concerned with algebra. WET, featuring a paper-thin storyline and semi-dated graphics, was made for gamers looking for lots of fluid action to augment the fluid gore they’ve come to expect. Based on 1970s cinematic grindhouse schlock, WET goes way out of its way to make carnage look cool: Rubi engages in what her makers call “over-the-top aerobatics,” flipping and sliding as she fires her double pistols and jams her katana into opposing heavies.
Or maybe I should say she’s supposed to flip and slide and fire and slash. Gameplay requires quite a bit of button dexterity to get her to jump and twirl while firing her guns at multiple opponents. Making matters worse—from a couple different points of view—the game gives you style points for how well you have Rubi dispatch a thug. (You’re applauded for performing “skull crusher” or “gut ripper” maneuvers, for instance.)
Wet—as in Blanket
Rubi has more bad habits than just wet ones. She favors curve-hugging garb. And when she’s hurt, she doesn’t search for a first aid kit: She looks for bottles of what we must assume is booze. The game helpfully tells you to “take a swig,” and when you do, Rubi’s health bar zooms up to full.
She swears like a sailor, too—assuming sailors know just 50 or so words, the majority of them unprintable. The game also features some really vulgar sexual references, crude slang terms for body parts and misuses of God’s name.
But it’s the violence that really makes WET so—let’s just say it—loathsome.
All shooter games play on the assumption that killing virtual people can entertain real ones. Some games incorporate the killing into wartime scenarios, thus trying to give players some sort of rational reason to participate. Others insert the mayhem into a gritty, dark, amoral world where Darwinian eat-or-be-eaten impulses rule.
WET leads us one more step down into the abyss by taking a stab at making the carnage look … beautiful. Rubi’s killings aren’t just aerobatic, they’re balletic. Sometimes she goes into what’s called “rage mode” as the screen turns red and Rubi fights in black silhouette. It’s art—or so WET would have you believe.
Duppy Demetrius, the game’s writer, calls Rubi a “good guy doing bad guy stuff.” But it’s Eliza Dushku, the voice of Rubi, who gets to the guts of this game when she says, “It’s fun to do all that nasty, dirty stuff and have no repercussions.”
Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.