Game Review: Wreckateer
Truth be told, I didn’t walk into Wreckateer with very high expectations. Besides Dance Central and a couple of other interesting titles, the Kinect hasn’t exactly been receiving the greatest support from developers. I’m happy to say that while Iron Galaxy’s Wreckateer isn’t a mind-blowing-ground-breaking title, it’s definitely a fun experience and worth your time.
So what’s Wreckateer about? Simply put, it’s a game about demolition. Too simple? Alright, it’s a game about using some sort of gigantic crossbow/catapult (I feel slightly guilty now remembering which- my guilt drove me to discover that it’s actually a ballista) and using it to launch projectiles at beautiful, uninhabitable castles that have somehow become full of goblins. Why have these nasty green creatures decided to occupy castles, and why do the game’s two characters, Wreck & Tinker, proprietors of their own demolition company, have such burning hatred for them? I don’t know, but what I do know is that the game makes wreckateerin’ look like plenty of fun.
I’m not going to beat around the bush: Wreckateer doesn’t have the best graphics. While the game’s collapsing castles look pretty decent, there was nothing in the game visually that I thought set it apart or made it unique. While it certainly looked good (I thought the environments were pretty well done), I just think the game was OK in the visuals department. That said, it was very well presented- everything had this air of fun about it, even the odd, depressing job of demolishing perfectly good castles simply because they’ve become infested with goblins. While we’re on the topic of aesthetics, I’d also like to bring out that while the music wasn’t bad either, I didn’t find any of it to be particularly memorable. It was good- but it wasn’t distinctive enough.
Wreck and Tinker are the game’s protagonists (a burly dude and a comparatively lanky one) and to be honest, they just seem to be there for the sake of being there. I have to say that their dialogue is relatively welcome (it tends to run along the lines of hints and “nice shot”), and it doesn’t really get annoying, which is a good thing. Wreckateer is geared towards kids, and while Wreck and Tinker aren’t very memorable characters in my opinion, they’re decent ones, and if your kids play Wreckateer, you can rest easy knowing that this is a game that won’t step on your nerves.
Now for the main event: gameplay. This is where Wreckateer really stands tall, and I’m happy to say that this game is a fun one- while this game’s elements alone are pretty unexciting, it’s really the gameplay that glues everything together- that’s a good thing. As I’ve said before and will continue to say countless times into the future, I’d much rather have a fun game with no story than a rich narrative that plays horribly, and Wreckateer is a good example of this. While the game’s just alright aesthetically, you’re not going to be paying much heed to the graphics- not when you’re having this much fun! Let me explain: you step forward to the ballista, put your hands together to grab it, take a step or two back to pull the thing tight and raise or lower your arms to change the angle of attack. It’s really much easier done than said, and the gameplay is simple but addictive, and upon launching a shot from said ballista, you can guide it (in small ways). For most shots, you can just use your hands to try shoving it (quickly!) in one direction or another until the shot hits a building. For the flying shot, you can do something special, however: after launching it, you throw your arms in the air and guide the missile to a target by imagining that you are the shot. You know, if I were to stand in front of my television and wave my arms around imagining that I were some sort of flying medieval weapon on its way to destroy a castle full of goblins, I suspect men in white suits would show up at my door, ship me off and I’d never be seen again. Nonetheless, it’s astoundingly fun to do this for some reason… But there’s quite a few different shots, score multipliers, and essentially an endless parade of (good!) reasons to keep coming back to a level for the highest possible score. That’s part of what makes this game so addictive- trying to cause a maximum of destruction with as few shots as possible. The earlier you cause great wreckage, the better, since there’s a meter that fills as more castle lays in ruin- the more the meter gets filled, the greater the score multiplication. This game has been compared to the massively popular Angry Birds franchise, and there’s definitely some (big) similarities. To be honest, though, I like Wreckateer better than Angry Birds (and much better than Angry Fish). Wreckateer just seems to add a whole new dimensi- disregard that. Wreckateer actually does add a whole new dimension, namely, the third one to the destroy-a-structure-with-projectiles genre that Crush the Castle started oh-so-long-ago.
At the end of the day, Wreckateer is an excellent use of Kinect- it’s pretty easy to play, it’s fun and it’s well presented. It’s not complicated and hard to control, it’s not a lame clone of a game that already exists with better controls, and it’s definitely not another fitness game (I’m happy about that). There’s just something satisfying about looking out at a sound structure and imagining it as rubble- although that sounds somewhat psychotic, doesn’t it? Suddenly, I’m very worried about the people who made Wreckateer… Jokes aside, though, this is actually a fun game that, shocker, works very well with Kinect. Will Kinect have any more pleasant surprises this year? Here’s hoping. Wreckateer is definitely worth picking up if you’re a Kinect owner looking for an awesome way to spend an afternoon, so check it out!