Deep in a Texan plane boneyard a giant hollowed-out Black Betty bomber sits among the wrecks. A platform's been erected inside the fuselage. A solitary dentist chair sits by a makeshift table - a tractor tyre with a wooden plank on top - and soda cans and pizza boxes litter the scene. So far so student digs (apart from the bomber, that is) but the radio transceivers, the crate of machine guns and the Ultimate Ninja arcade cabinet paint a very different picture. Welcome to Rubi's world: the life of a 'fixer' whose choice of home is a middle finger to her fear of flying. Welcome to Wet.
You join us at level three's beginning. We've just played through the first two scenes, a San Franciscan chase sequence followed by a freeway QTE leap-a-thon clearly inspired by Matrix Reloaded, and the opening credits are now rolling. The boneyard's a moment of calm after the relentless thirty-minute gun porn of the first two levels. It represents a chance to take stock and familiarise ourselves with Rubi's, erm... handling.
So far impressions are mixed. The opening acts' frenetic combat has been a permanent heartbeat away from catastrophe. Rubi's gymnastic talents lie in the middle ground between Prince of Persia and Tomb Raider: Underworld; pole swings and wall-runs are all very Prince (even down to the scuffs highlighting the optimal areas to interact with) but the gunplay during these actions borrows heavily from Lady Lara herself.
Contrary to the touted fluidity of Rubi's movement there's no real flow to the action. Initial arenas are each designed with a couple of circuitry routes in mind; pre-placed lines of interactive objects (ramps to leap over, poles to swing on, bars to slide under and walls to run on) which need to be followed religiously for success. Every acrobatic motion then triggers the slow motion targeting (bullet time usage is unlimited) to dispatch enemies quickly.
Sadly the story's not quite that simple. Swing on a pole (which you often will), and both of Rubi's palms become rooted to the metal, turning you into a defenceless Catherine wheel until you leap away. Worse still, if you stray from the intended route your health bar will seriously suffer. Like Stranglehold, toe-to-toe fights are suicide. Your best tactic is to dive to the floor and use mid-air bullet time instead. It's a necessary evil of the air-based combat, and it always results in clumsy camera spinning.
Were the hands-on to be restricted to Wet's opening our coverage would be ending just about now, but there's good reason why we've devoted a larger chunk of magazine to the game. Beginning with level three, and then leapfrogging on to level eight and ten, we are afforded the opportunity to boost Rubi's moveset. And when we do, something actually quite brilliant happens...
The transformation begins in the boneyard. Rubi's home is her very own Croft Manor: a vast selection of hidden areas and time trial routes used to train you in the art of aerial combat. By this point we've earned enough Rubi points to upgrade the leading lady's repertoire, and suddenly the stilted combat from before makes sense.
Wet hasn't been made without flowing combat. It's been created with fighting as the core focus. The reason this fact is unclear up until now rests in the upgrade menu. Stylish kills, combos and a keen eye for collectibles will rake in the Rubi points. These can then be spent on abilities such as shooting while on ziplines, shooting while swinging round poles and sword slashing from a knee-sliding start.