Review: Wreckateer (XBLA)

Review: Wreckateer (XBLA)

To be honest, I was less than enthused about Wreckateer in the lead-up to this year’s XBLA Summer of Arcade promotion. I hadn’t had the opportunity to play it hands-on anywhere, and it sounded like a rehash of Angry Birds with castles and goblins instead of birds and pigs. I hate Angry Birds. I seriously saw Angry Birds branded Cheese Nips at the grocery store last night, and they were merely the most recent in a long line of ridiculous marketing tie-ins and promotions. To be fair, most of my hatred of Angry Birds stems directly from its oversaturation and not from its actual gameplay. Once I put some thought into that, and paid a little more attention to what Wreckateer was going to be, I started allowing myself to feel wary levels of excitement and anticipation.

Nothing is going to make me like Angry Birds, and nothing is going to make me play its imminent $39.99 retail console release later this year. That being said, Angry Birds is not going to get in the way of my enjoying the absolute heck out of Wreckateer, in spite of my original expectations.

I’m definitely a kid at heart, and Wreckateer is one of those games that appeals not only to kid kids, but to adult kids as well, like Skylanders. From corny jokes to legitimate witticisms, the dialogue never gets heavy, but leaves enough to earn, at the very least, a consistent series of chuckles from older players.

[slickr-flickr search=”sets” set=”72157630706027944″ items=”20″]

There are various shot types that you get to play around with in Wreckateer. The standard projectile can have its trajectory manipulated in small ways by swiping your hands in the direction you want to influence it. The flying shot (which requires your arms to be out like an airplane) can be controlled by leaning left or right, or forming a Y or A with your arms to increase or decrease altitude. The scatter shot is manually split into four projectiles which attempt to stay equidistant from each other within the gap between your hands, with the original trajectory of the shot serving as an anchor point for the spread (which can result in parabolic formations). The Kinect implementation is very responsive, but like most Kinect games, requires more room that some people have. This, of course, is not really a Wreckateer issue so much as a Kinect issue, but it’s something to keep in mind for Kinect owners. If you don’t have sufficient space to move left, right, front, and back with relative ease, then you may end up getting frustrated trying to control the ballista.

Aside from the well developed Kinect controls, Wreckateer allows for two-person turn-based local multiplayer on every level, the ability to build a custom playlist for going through your favorite levels back-to-back without worrying about navigating between rounds, incredibly detailed destruction physics that allow you to develop great skill shots, a wonderfully complex scoring system, and great leaderboard/rival information during and after each level. The scoring system takes a great deal into consideration when tallying your total score for each shot, and includes many of the little things that end up becoming big things after multipliers are applied. During each match, you will also see the next highest top score for the level on your score bar, and you will be able to see your progress towards beating it. After the match, you will see a chart that shows your score for each shot plotted against the per-shot score of the score leader you were gunning for, along with a long list of statistics (all seen in the captured gameplay above).

Coming in on the cheap end of Summer of Arcade, Wreckateer will be available this Wednesday for 800 MSP. It is absolutely worth the cost for those of you who have a Kinect. If nothing else, the sheer joy of destructiveness will be enough to get your blood pumping and your maniacal laughter flowing. Wreckateer is also one of the (currently) three titles that enjoy compatibility with Microsoft’s new “Avatar FameStar” cross-game system. Success in Wreckateer translates to avatar rewards and more. So far, 2012’s XBLA Summer of Arcade is off to a great start. Hopefully it keeps the momentum up over the next three weeks.

Review

ProsCons
Strong Kinect implementation - very responsive
Excellent stats and rival score display
Complex and rewarding scoring system
As with most Kinect games, some people
simply don't have the space to play. This
is more a Kinect issue than a Wreckateer issue, though.
Rating
90 out of 100

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