When the Kinect released nearly two years ago it was a shot in the arm for the aging Xbox 360 console but since that time it has mostly failed to deliver on its promise. While there are solid experiences to be had on the Kinect, the majority of releases have left a lot to be desired. Every once in a while though, a game comes along where the developers really understand the device and deliver something extremely fun and worth playing, Iron Galaxy Studio’s Wreckateer is one of those games.
Wreckateer is a physics driven game of destruction, similar in concept and execution to the Wii exclusive Boom Blox and the popular mobile title Angry Birds. As a Wreckateer players are tasked by the king with destroying castles taken over by goblins using a ballista that fires specialized ammo. Each level presents players with a unique layout that will challenge players to figure out the best locations to hit to generate maximum destruction.
Using the ballista is extremely simple, take a step or two forward, motion to grab the ballista, step back to power the shot, aim and let loose the destructive force. After the shot has been fired players can “magically” alter the direction of the shot by using waving at the shot and “steering” it in the direction needed. While it is not a failsafe, this after-touch ability can help to fix the trajectory of poorly aimed shots or help fine tune a shot to hit a particular weak point in a structure.
Things get a little more complicated when special shots are being utilized though. Shots like the Flying shot, Explosive shot, and Speed shot, amongst others offer different strategic values and destructive force. These special shots all have a special ability that can be activated by making a “V” with one’s arms. Activating the Flying shot for example releases wings on the shot which can then be flown like a bird by extending one’s arms and directing it where it needs to go. Activating the explosive shot creates a massive explosion, so targeting it where it will do the most damage is the key to its success.
While complete destruction of the structure is certainly the core goal of the game, actually destroying everything in a level is something of a challenge. Each level is broken down into gold, silver and bronze medals based on score, with bronze being needed to progress to the next level. Thus success mostly hinges on how much destruction one can do in successive shots, in turn building up the destruction multiplier to maximize the level score.
Wreckateer simplicity is its greatest strength. The game is simple to grasp yet ultimately difficult to master. And much like a mobile game, the levels are generally short and can be played in bite sized increments, provided you have the will power to pull yourself away instead of just playing one more level, which as we all know is never just one more level. It has that same addictive quality that games like Peggle, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, and Angry Birds have that make them fantastic. That said, Wreckateer is not without its own, albeit minor, downsides.
While the Kinect controls work perfectly well, the core mechanics could have just as easily been transferred to a controller. In fact there is no controller support in Wreckateer at all, not even for menu navigation. Wreckateer is an amazingly fun game but the Kinect only control is a limiting factor, for many people using the Kinect requires a temporary remodeling of their play space and additionally even if they have the set up there are times when people just do not want to stand up to play something. Additional to the limiting control scheme, Wreckateer’s multiplayer seems half baked. As much as I personally enjoy local multiplayer, online multiplayer has become the standard and Wreckateer not featuring it is just another limiting factor to the game.
Still these downsides are minor, if rather limiting, and do little to take away from the high quality fun that Wreckateer offers to players. The game may not convince anyone to purchase a Kinect but it is a nice addition for current owners to the device’s rather sparse library.
- Simple, fun and addictive gameplay.
- Kinect implementation is top-notch.
- Charming art design.
- Kinect only controls are extremely limiting.
- Multiplayer is half-baked.
4 / 5