As far as Kinect Arcade titles go, there are very few that are actually worth spending your hard earned cash on. Typical problems are of course the lack of space, which restricts most people who own a Kinect from making full use of a game with poor controls, and it is this that inevitably leads to frustration and no desire to continue playing. Wreckateer wasn’t the most exciting title on show at this year’s E3, neither was it the highlight of the Summer of Arcade promotion, but I’d like you to take a few minutes to read this review as you may be pleasantly surprised!
The premise of Wreckateer is a simple yet strange one – all the king’s castles have been overrun with goblins and they have got to go. The strange part is, instead of sending in the kingdom’s soldiers to clear the infestation, the king has instructed his prized demolishers and their new recruit, you, to flatten the castles, as this is the only way he can be sure all the goblins have been destroyed. While this may sound a little extreme it’s certainly a lot more fun than traipsing through the mud and taking out the goblins one by one.
The one and only weapon you will be using to destroy these castles is your trusty ballista but you have a variety of different projectiles at your disposal. The basic one is a large rock that eats through most of the castle walls and towers quite easily but the damage is limited to the area you aim at. One of the more interesting projectiles is the ‘Split Shot’, which breaks up your shot into several pieces and allows you to destroy a large area in a single blow. In the later levels it is very important to make use of each of the different projectile’s effects, otherwise you will struggle to gain those all-important gold medals. There are roughly fifty levels spread across ten different environments that include challenge levels where you can rack up some serious numbers.
Each level is filled with a number of towers, castle walls and castle gates, which can be destroyed for points, and there are plenty of goblins to be squished too. Some goblins may be found scouring the walls, others may be keeping watch from the towers and some, who are coloured red, will be enjoying the sights in their hot air balloons. These are the most desirable ones to destroy and you would be a fool not to burst their bubble and improve your score! The other way you’ll be gaining points is through the ‘Score Shields’, which you’ll find scattered throughout each level, but these are usually placed in awkward locations and require some good aim on your part.
Controlling your shots is quite simple and requires you to put your arms out in front of you to grab your projectile and then take a few steps backwards to gain power. After you have enough power it’s time to aim your shot by stepping left or right and lowering or lifting your arms. One you have your shot in the direction you want it to go, you simply stretch your arms outwards and away it goes. From here, depending on the shot, there are a few different controls but the main ones you’ll be using are swipes from left, right, up and down to keep your shot on target or to tweak a poorly aimed shot. The only awkward thing about aiming these shots is you’re going to need quite a bit of space as you’ll be stepping around a lot.
The art style of Wreckateer is fantastic, and the cartoony demolishers with their humorous dialogue make each level a very enjoyable experience. Although the levels can look a bit samey it’s the variety of shots and tower/wall/gate placements that add more complexity as the levels go on.
Once you’ve worked your way through the six to eight hours of single player gameplay, which is just for the bronze/silver medals, there’s also some local multiplayer to enjoy. In this mode you will take it in turns with your friend to demolish your own castle and whoever comes out with highest score wins. For those of you who are serious about your competition you also have the leaderboards there for you to truly show off your demolishing skills.
As far as Kinect games go Wreckateer is one of the better ones available, and at 800 Microsoft Points you really can’t complain for several hours of gameplay. There were a few issues with freezing every now and then, and the fact that you will need some decent space, but aside from this Wreckateer is a solid game with good controls, funny moments and an enjoyable multiplayer mode. Well worth a look in for all Kinect owners!