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Wreckateer (Xbox 360) artwork

Wreckateer (Xbox 360) review


"Itís a functional and fun time killer when, letís face it, we all expected a trainwreck."



Wreckateer asset

Wreckateer presents me with a mouth-watering list of perceived flaws that I could only initially assume would make this a devilishly angry review to pen. Itís one of those Kinect games, you see, and theyíve not really been doing that well as of late, what with their wonky detection issues and their general lack of imagination. Wreckateer could fall here the hardest; itís little more than an unapologetic Angry Birds clone, taken off the touch screens and thrown out into full 3D.

Except that Angry Birds is popular with you kooky gamers for a reason, I guess. Itís simple, addictive and has gallons of replay value. Wreckateer foils my first pre-planned rant by doing an annoyingly laudable job of ripping off just enough of that gameís finer points to at least make a valid stab at aping its strengths. Back dropped to painfully generic medieval settings, youíre tasked with destroying goblin-infested castles and strongholds with a groaning catapult and a selection of differing shots. Generic goblin deaths can cause some points bonuses (and the chance of a mulligan on any shot that goes astray) but the main thrust of Wreckateer is wanton destruction; itís more about blowing up large chunks of stonemasonry than killing off the interlopers.

Points are handled by a complex combo system that can reward you extra kudos for anything, including bouncing a shot off a bank, catching a pack of dynamite, or hitting an unsuspecting goblin right in the face. Other awards can be gained for other values, such as the pacifist bonus gained for missing the target all together, or the premature ejaculation award for trigging a shot too soon. Various power-ups litter the screen offering multipliers or charging your shot up so it explodes on impact. While the initial stages of Wreckateer are all about picking your target and watching things crumble, more complicated shots and strategies are required as the game goes on. This makes great use of certain special abilities each kind of shot can possess. Normal boulders can be curved left and right by slapping them mid-air, while others can be fired like a bullet by raising your hands. Far and away the best shot, though, is the one that can sprout little wings upon firing, and be gliding around the screen while you lean back and forth to dip and dive, tilt left and right to turn, and make yourself look like a complete cretin to anyone watching you.

Wreckateer asset

This works because, in a rare moment for the Kinect library, Wreckateer controls exactly like itís supposed to. To fire your siege engine, you need to take a step forward, clasp your hands to ready the machine, step back to prime it, sidestep to take aim, and then open your hands to fire. Itís worth mentioning that this game needs a large amount of room to properly use, but that it actually does what you want it to seems to be a huge step in the right direction. Perhaps itís unfair to compare it to the systemís numerous and much-mocked failures, but when you balls up a shot, itís probably going to be your fault and not because an action you plotted wasnít mapped right, or interpreted differently than you intended.

In fact, the much-maligned nature of previous Kinect games conspire to make Wreckateer almost seem better than it is, but Iím on to you, Microsoft! Forcing me to play unresponsive or plain uninteresting games in order to make future titles seem more worthy! For shame! ÖÖ still, though, Wreckateer is a surprising amount of fun, once you step away from the bland, unoriginal settings and shield yourself from the awe at finding a body-controlled game that is actually controllable. If you so choose, you can just bludgeon your way through the game, earning the bare minimum score required to progress through the levels, or you could send ages contemplating each shot. Raise your right hand to your forehead to shield the imaginary sun, and the mapscape shifts to an overhead view were you can study the layout and decide the best way to proceed. Often, thereís a very linear way to complete each stage, asking you to detonate a bomb shot under a bridge pillar precisely enough to take out all the supporting beams in one, or following an arcing trail of power-ups and multipliers to a structureís weak spot and, sometimes, your in-game helpers will use their awful Scottish accented dribble to drop you hints. These levels climb more into frustration as the game progresses, demanding a series of perfectly executed shots, and thatís a shame because the most fun I had with the game was when I was just blowing shit up.

Wreckateer asset

So, all in all, Wreckateer is a bit of a success. Itís not going to be a hardware shifter, and itís not going to rewrite gaming as we know it Ė itís not even managed to advance the sub-genre it belongs to. But itís a functional and fun time killer when, letís face it, we all expected a trainwreck.

Rating: 6/10

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (August 11, 2012)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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