Every summer Microsoft rolls out five titles under the promotional heading “Summer of Arcade”. Games included in this yearly “event” are considered to be the cream of the crop of XBLA games being released during that time. This year’s second entry was Wreckateer for the Kinect.
Being the only motion sensor based game proves to be both Wreckateer’s strong point and downfall. For one thing, developing for this peripheral device automatically limits its marketability and purchasing base. That said, this does provide gamers who do own the accessory with a fun game that actually makes good use of the Kinect’s capabilities.
One major issue with this, however, is that you need quite a significant amount of space in order to play the game properly. With some Kinect games you can get away with just the minimum required amount of playing space, but Wreckateer requires all that and more…so much more, in fact, that it can cause gamers to discover their character doing some rather crazy things, particularly when required moves fall close to the edge of required play space.
Wreckateer has prospective gamers joining a group of wreckers who go around destroying castles which have become positively overrun with goblins. To destroy the castles, you are required to load a ballista and fire various types of shots at them with the aim of causing as much destruction as possible. The shots vary between “normal” ones to “flying shots” (which you direct with your body) and those that explode on contact. The game predetermines which shots you can use and in what order. This makes the game more challenging, but is simultaneously somewhat disappointing, since I know I could have done a much better job if given the option to chose which shot to attack with in a given situation.
There are ten levels, each subdivided into about 5 stages of castles you’ll need to destroy in the course of the game, and you have to achieve a particular score within each in order to continue on to the next level. Early stages are fairly easy to complete, but higher levels require a bit more thought and planning. Sometimes you’re better off starting a level just to get a feel of it and see how the shots flow before trying the same level over again for points.
While the graphics and animation are hardly top of the line, they are certainly passable and enough for the nondiscriminating gamer to enjoy without major complaint. It’s actually fun watching the goblins dance around to taunt you. The game makes use of a decidedly colorful palette and does a good job of bringing out the lush environments it presents, particularly given the fact that this is very much in the milieu of cartooniness, where realism would both be somewhat distracting and effectively uncalled for.
While not an overly challenging game by any standards, Wreckateer does make you think a bit in order to plot out proper strategy in your reign of terror upon goblins and their castles alike. Wreckateer is similarly one of the few games that actually makes good use of the Kinect tool. Besides, a dash of mindless destruction can be fun every now and again…
I don’t really condone violence. Couldn’t we find a way, maybe we could talk to the goblins and see if we can work something out? The goblins look like nice folks. Everyone has a good side to them, and change can happen, even among the toughest customers out there.
Destruction is good! I’m great at it. I was never happier or more content than when I got to use that wrecking ball in Old Meets New to drive those people out of that apartment complex. Get out, you lousy squatters! Go get a real job, so you can afford to live in some swanky uptown digs, you lazy bums. What do you want, a handout? Or how about that time Eric had Zipper plant the bomb at Starlight Mansion in Disaster. Aah, now THOSE were good times. Yeah, Wreckateer is definitely my kind of game.
Best song to describe the game:
Jack, Take a Hike from Old Meets New.