When it was deemed that I would be the one reviewing Wreckateer, I was slightly annoyed as I’m not the greatest fan of Kinect. Yeah sure Kinect is a phenomenal piece of hardware but I just have little desire to be standing around in my living room flailing my arms around. However, I am a professional so the Kinect was plugged in, set up, and Wreckateer was downloaded. Here is my review.
Wreckateer is the second installment in the Summer of Arcade promotion currently running on Xbox Live. Wreckateer put’s you in the role of….well a Wreckateer, newly recruited to the Wreck and Tinker company. The tutorial mission is very thorough and really lets you come to grips with the controls of the game, it’s around 10-15 minutes long and then you are unleashed into the single player campaign.
The story is that Goblins have invaded the Kingdom and the King has requested for you personally to rid them of this infestation! Goblins have overrun all of the castles and apparently the only way to get rid of a Goblin problem is to destroy that which they inhabit! There are numerous ways in which Wreckateer resembles Angry Birds, the firing of projectiles, the smashing of scenery and green foes, the various projectile types…. but while playing Wreckateer the main gameplay and enjoyment comes about after the shot has been fired, this is where it really stands out as a unique title for me.
The scoring system is simple and effective. Bronze, then Silver, then Gold, each with an increasingly difficult to reach score threshold. By levelling the battlefield in front of you score multipliers are granted, depending on what percentage you have so far destroyed. Point bonuses are awarded for extra skillful shots (like hitting a goblin right in the face!) and projectiles can be steered through point medallions, granting extra valuable points.
The controls are very easy to come to grips with and also very satisfying to use. Standing near to the ballista and bringing your hands together in front of you causes you to take hold, you then step back to pull it taut and then upon taking your aim, flinging your arms out wide fires the shot. This would be pretty boring if it was the only control you had over each shot, gladly this is not the case. You are granted with 6 ammo selections which all require different manipulation after firing. The flying shot needs to be directed, by spreading your wings and guiding it towards the target and the split shot can be split into 4 and then directed with both hands. Even the normal shot is anything but normal as you can smack it in any direction after firing using your ‘Wrecking Gauntlets’. There is some room for forgiveness in Wreckateer, as the shots sometimes don’t do as you wish, you are granted mulligans for taking out goblins. This allows you to retake your last shot by lifting your left arm, which comes in handy as every shot is crucial if you want to be hitting those gold medals!
The graphics are neat, a nice cartoony visual style is very appropriate for a game like this, I also really liked the fact that your avatar is fully integrated into the games surroundings ( I know this is common for Kinect games but like I said, I rarely play them). It was only let down by slightly similar level designs throughout, it could have done with a bit more variation on level layouts. The cartoony style coupled with the loud and over the top voice acting does imply the desired audience was children but I found it enjoyable, and I think it is a great game for parties.
My only problem with Wreckateer was it’s rare inconsistencies. By that I mean sometimes a shot would wreak absolute havoc smashing through several buildings and then some, but other times the exact same would bounce pathetically off the castle causing little to no damage. As mentioned previously though mulligans are useful when this happens.
Regarding length I would say that there is actually a surprising amount of things to do, there are 60 levels to complete and of course the scoring system means you’ll want to keep going back and beating your friend’s scores. Although this can be quite repetitive when playing through single player but when playing with friends the competitive aspect of the scoring keeps things entertaining.
The Bottom Line.
To conclude I had low expectations of Wreckateer with it being an Kinect only title but it smashed them away just like I was smashing away all of the goblins. It is a great adaptation of the point, shoot, destroy mechanism, and really is a whole load of fun (when the shots work) for you and for friends. The only downfall is it does become quite a slog if you are playing through the campaign single player as most levels do look fairly similar. Having said that it is a great game for parties and a very appropriate game for kids. Wreckateer is available for the low price of 800MSP which just goes in it’s favour even more.
Gameplay: 9 – Excellent when it works, frustrating when it doesn’t but mulligans work well to counteract any flawed shots.
Longevity: 8 – 60 levels to play through, and a great competitive scoring system will keep you playing for hours on end.
Graphics: 7 – Not technically outstanding but very fitting for the type of game that it is, slightly let down by lack of variety in level design.
Sound: 7 -Mediocre soundtrack but fun voice-overs, very entertaining to the younger audience.
Accessibility: 1 – Very easy to use, however the Kinect can be slightly temperamental causing a misfired shot.
Presentation: 2 – The HUD is ideal for what it is, everything you need is there in a neat fashion, score meter works nicely.
Immersion: 0 – Story is not really there, weak excuse for the game’s playstyle.
Innovation: 2 – Excellent, firing of projectiles coupled with post-shot manipulation is a fantastic idea for Kinect.
Wreckateer – 7.9/10
This review is based upon a release copy of the Xbox 360 version of the game. Wreckateer was provided by Microsoft Studios for review purposes.