Video Games

Wanted: Dead – Exclusive Hands-On With This Bonkers PS2-Era Throwback

I didn’t know you wanted to be a katana-wielding police officer in a cyberpunk version of Hong Kong where you fight giant spider tanks and eat five bowls of ramen, but that’s what the upcoming slasher/shooter Wanted: Dead I got it in. , and I couldn’t put it down. Everything from its bizarre story and tone, to its challenging and chaotic combat, reminds me of his PS2/OG Xbox days of gaming in my youth. There, experimentation and style took precedence over sophistication. And there was something great about that approach that caught my attention and kept me smiling from ear to ear after over 15 hours of use.

One of the main reasons Wanted: Dead has such an old-school vibe is the difficulty of its fantastic combat. Death was constantly approaching while cutting and shooting enemy troops, as one mistake could mean instant death for my ninja cop. I was usually outnumbered by at least 10 to 1, as enemies shot me from a distance and friends hit me with melee weapons in a ruthless attempt to overwhelm me. Mastering the timing of parries, dodges, and counterattacks forced me to keep moving to avoid instant death. Upgrading skill trees along the way thankfully improved movement options with dodge rolls or sliding blows, making attacks much more difficult, but even with two skill trees almost fully upgraded, the park was Still, when I finally beat the section, it was all worth the effort, triggering many kill animations along the way.

But many times I died and was reloaded to a previous checkpoint. This was another old school touch and sometimes meant a brutal amount of progress was lost. It was part of the fun and I hardly ever got annoyed with having to repeat sections.

When I wasn’t turning my face into potato salad, I spent my downtime doing many weird side activities that I still can’t believe are part of the same game. Wasting too much time, fighting fellow cops in contests to see who could digest the most ramen, singing karaoke, and for some reason playing fake 1980s arcade games. Eating ramen and karaoke are essentially the same mini-game, so these silly distractions weren’t always surprising additions, but they made me love how unflinchingly goofy they all were. It was very helpful for

“There was something so weird and PS2-era about it that I just couldn’t help but love it.”


There’s also a strange charm to the sometimes-awkward presentation, mostly featuring awkward voice acting and slightly shaky-looking character models. There are some incredibly beautiful moments, such as when you do, and it’s a weird but effective way to tell a story. Even if the dialogue moved his eyes 180 degrees on the socket.

I’ve already played most of Wanted: Dead, but it’s hard to believe that 2023 will still be this good old school. Stay tuned for the full review soon.

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