Review - Wreckateer

Posted on August 7, 2012 - 3:15pm

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F*ck It

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F*ck It

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One of the few original games Microsoft showed off at their E3 press conference this year is Wreckateer, a Kinect-only Xbox Live Arcade title. The on stage demo caused everyone to react the same way: it's Angry Birds with a different view. And wouldn't you know it, that's exactly what it is.

Using the Kinect camera, and only the Kinect, you use your body to control shots from a powerful ballista to "wreck" a series of different castles, towers, and forts. The more you break, the more points you get. Fundamentally, that's all there is to it. It's all about getting as high of a score as possible with the limited shots you are given.

There are ways to get additional points. Bonus point shields float in the sky and if one of your shots passes through it, you instantly get that bonus. Taking out roaming goblins or people's homes can also net you a bonus, as well as a variety of small modifiers for things like trick shots and flying around. Additionally, after wrecking a certain amount, a meter will fill and give you a multiplier. 

To help get you maximum wreckage, you get a few different kinds of shots. A flying shot allows you to open up your arms and use it to fly the ball around into your target, dealing extra damage with more velocity. The bomb shot can explode on your mark, and the split shot has four smaller balls that fly forward following your arm spread, easily my favorite.

It's this variety that really helps make Wreckateer not a complete snooze fest, as there is some strategy into when and where you use your shots. You're only given a select few to use on every stage, and they're always in the same order. It would be better to have a pool and you can choose which to use when you want it, since this would make it feel like you have more input over your high score strategy.

And that's where Wreckateer falters the most. You are shown a goal to beat by one of the in-game characters, and rather being able to find your own way to past it, it feels like you need to figure out an exact pattern and copy it. It's easy to get enough points to pass the level and move on, but getting a truly high score requires replicating a precise volley.

Besides, the eye candy isn't enough for it. For all this destruction, the physics and particle effects do not quite dazzle enough to make each shot a spectacle. Seeing a tower slowly topple over starts exciting, but then when it crumbles into large chunks kills the feeling of destruction. The character voices are intentionally cartoony for the audience, but that doesn't make them any less irritating while you play.

The Kinect based motion  controls do work surprisingly well when loading and firing your shot. Waving your arms in to control your cannonball in midair doesn't seem to work quite as well, but the flying and split shot maneuvers do. The constant wave of arms can be tiring. Combine that with the ho-hum gameplay, and I found myself quite bored after about fifteen minutes of play.

Wreckateer is clearly a clone with motion controls put in. It may be appealing to those who are looking for something a little more relaxed to play, but not being able to create your own strategy kills it. It's trial and error until you find the pattern you were supposed to follow, instead of developing your own. You'll be ready to move on with little reason to return after less than an hour of playing.

4.5 / 10

(4s are hurting in quality. There are instances of fun that are overshadowed by major problems, technical or otherwise. It could be fun, but the issues may not make it worthwhile.)

Jared Knabenbauer is the Reviews Editor, Hard News host, and a host of our weekly video podcast, "SideScrollers". He has also produced several notable ScrewAttack shows, including Newsroom, Nametags and Control Issues. He specializes in RPGs, and has a great fondness for Dungeons & Dragons. A comedian at heart, he is one serious gamer.

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