Xbox on! Xbox go to TV! Xbox off! That’s pretty much the only loving my Kinect ever receives. Ever since Microsoft decided to drop the Kinect from its bundles, sales have gone through the roof and developers have pretty much dropped the Kinect features from their games. Some developers are trying to rekindle the Kinect love and one of those developers is HeSaw who have released Viktor Kalvachev’s Blue Estate: The Game, which a prequel based upon the Blue Estate comic books.
This artistic comedy based arcade shooter takes you through the demise of one Tony Luciano who is the only son of Los Angeles mob boss Don Luciano. Tony starts a war with a gang after Cherry Popz, a stripper at your club named “The Smoking Barrel”, was kidnapped and taken to a rival strip club to dance for them. As you’re pretty peeved off – I mean they’ve kidnapped Cherry, who wouldn’t be raging right? You fire straight round to the strip club to get Ms Popz back. What ensues is a complete onslaught of baddies who seem to be never ending and using the Kinect technology you need to shoot them all by waving your hands around as if you are the madman himself. After a while when you’ve killed so many gang members it gets out of control and you then step into the boots of Clarence, an ex-Navy SEAL who doesn’t like the assassin lifestyle but enjoys the money that it brings in.
So how does it play? You only need to play for one level to know exactly what the game is like. It reminds me a little bit like the classic arcade shooter Time Crisis. You don’t get to choose which route you take, but instead you’ll slowly be steered through each level automatically while building up a high score as you progress. Scores are based upon a variation of kills as well as shooting bonus items like golden dogs and Chinese waving lucky cats. There are two ways to play. If you really hate Kinect, or just don’t own one, you can still enjoy what Blue Estate has to offer. Using the controller’s right analogue stick to aim your current weapon and the trigger to fire, there’s not much else to it. Then there’s the Kinect way.
As the game has been designed to utilise the Kinect sensors, you’d expect the Kinect way to play would be best way to play. Using your right hand to control the aim on the screen, you just have to move it around until you’re aiming at the enemies, then it auto fires for you. You’re left arm is used to pick up ammo and health whenever the signs to do so appear on the screen. There’s something just not quite right with this setup and it really comes down to the inability to actually pull a trigger to fire bullets. With Time Crisis at least there was a gun to point and aim at the screen. With Blue Estate there’s not and it’s so simplistic that it gets repetitive extremely quick. Maybe that’s why the PlayStation 4 works well with Blue Estate due to the controller’s gyroscopic sensor.
Another thing that gets repetitive is the comedic approach that has been taken. I did chuckle a couple of times throughout but that was at the sheer randomness involved rather than actually being funny. It doesn’t stop there though as the narration that accompanies the gameplay is also comedic with the game itself pausing to stop the narration. Even the developers know the narrator isn’t funny.
Blue Estate doesn’t utilise Xbox LIVE in the multiplayer sense which is unusual in this day and age, but does feature offline two player and if the story mode has kept you entertained, you’ll also like the Arcade mode. In this feature you have to kill enemies fast before the time runs out. The rules are simple, kill an enemy to gain time and score, kill enough enemies and you auto-upgrade your weapon however don’t kill enough and the time runs out it’s the end of the game. It’s a quick mode that does have replay value, and there are online leaderboards to see how you compare to your friends.
Being based upon the back of a comic book series you’d expect the visuals of the game to take that shape. You won’t be disappointed if that’s what you did expect. Don’t expect anything ground-breaking, but the style does work well and oozes comic book with the artistic approach.
Overall Blue Estate doesn’t provide enough to show that Kinect still has value to be the main component of a game. It’s nice to give the Kinect a little bit more loving, but in reality Blue Estate won’t hold your attention after the initial excitement. The game can be completed pretty quickly and only the arcade mode provides any sort of replay value. If you’re a fan of the comic book series you’ll probably quite like this game, if not then just continue to use the Kinect for its more common function. Xbox off!