Developer: Iron Galaxy
Publisher: Microsoft Games Studio
Tagline: Think Angry Birds in the third dimension
Family Friendly: Click here for more information.
Verdict: Wait for a Sale
While playing Wreckateer, I waited for that one moment that happens with every Kinect title. You know the moment – where the controls start to interfere with the actual gameplay. Several hours in, I was still waiting for that inherent control issue to come into play, but it never did. Probably the biggest surprise for Wreckateer was that the controls were the highlight of the game, accurately capturing my movements and translating them to the screen. Sure, most of that comes from the simple and clear movements that the game requires of me as a player, but good controls help flesh out what could have been a lackluster experience with Wreckateer.
It is clearly apparent once you start up the intro levels for Wreckateer, who acted as their muse during development. To say that there is a hint of Angry Birds in the design of Wreckateer is an understatement. Sure, they setting and projectiles have changed shape and size, but the general premise of Angry Birds is layered throughout the game. We trade Pigs for Goblins and we fling rocks instead of Birds. Switch the perspective to third person and you have Wreckateer.
In Wreckateer, the world seems to be plagued by a scourge of Goblins and their precariously positioned towers. As Wreckateers, we are employed to use a ballista to fire off rocks that will take down those goblin towers. As you hit the towers, you are rewarded with bonuses depending on the amount of destruction you have done, along with other badges you might have hit while your projectile was in the air. Of course, you can have several different projectiles at your disposal during any one scenario. Some will just be normal rocks, while others will sprout wings that allow you to control the flight of the rock, while others can be timed to explode. Knowing your rocks will allow you to plan ahead to ensure the most destruction, and higher scores.
Now when talking about a Kinect game, you are always waiting for that moment that I mentioned earlier, where the controls will interfere with the enjoyment of the game, but that point has yet to arrive for myself. As a matter of fact, I found the Kinect controls to be surprisingly responsive, and I never had a moment where something happened that felt off or wrong. Of course, Wreckateer keeps the controls simple, with motions like grabbing a rock, stepping back to load the ballista and opening your arms to launch. Guiding rocks is controls either by hitting the rock in the direction you want to nudge it, or guiding it with your arms if it is a rock that can be more directly controlled. The controls felt snappy and responsive, which was a highlight indeed.
Where the game starts to stumble over itself is in the both the physics of the destruction and the length of time it takes to go from launch to contact with a tower. Many times, when I would fire a shot, I would think that I had a solid shot on the Goblin towers, only to do minimal damage, while at other times, a seemly bad shot would result in a huge amount of destruction. It was always a hit and miss proposition. Worse still is that some shots like the guided rock can feel like they are in the air for an eternity before you make contact. And if you end up with a bad shot and want to take a mulligan, you are looking at another eternity for that shot to make contact. It slowly starts to make the game drag on, instead of keeping up the level of fun.
Those faults are a sad thing, because Wreckateer in small doses plays out as a fun title. Playing for 20-30 minutes at a time, I found Wreckateer to be a blast to play, whether I was by myself or with another person. But if you try to continue on longer, it just loses you with the amount of time it takes to get through a stage of building destruction. It is not that Wreckateer is a bad game, but it could use a bit of retooling to make it a snappier experience. Hopefully, Iron Galaxy decides to take the feedback all in and create Wreckateer 2, which should be able to clean up some of the nagging issues that keep it from being a solid hit on XBLA.
- Kinect controls are spot on
- Game is a lot of fun in small doses
- Shots seem to go on forever
- Questionable physics
Wreckateer is a game that is easily recommended for all ages. While you are destroying buildings that house goblins, no blood or death animations are in play for said goblins. Some of the puzzles might be challenging for younger players, but with some time, all should be fine with the game.