Castle infested with Goblins? Best knock it down then…
Wanton destruction has a tendency to be frowned upon in the real world. Unless you are fortunate enough to have a job operating one of those massive wrecking balls, or you shun society all together and indulge in gratuitous vandalism, you will have to confine your destructive desires to videogames.
Microsoft’s Wreckateer, which is the second entry in this year’s Summer of Arcade promotion on Xbox Live, has destruction by the bucket-load. In fact, the whole concept of the game is to destroy castles by firing various rocks at them with a Ballista. Sounds familiar?
The game has a fantasy setting where there seems to be a new castle to destroy around every hill, and there is not an angry bird or an evil pig anywhere to be seen. Despite the obvious similarities with Angry Birds, Wreckateer is it’s own game, thanks mostly to the Kinect control scheme where the player uses their body rather than a controller.
At its most basic, the player will pull back the string of the Ballista, move left or right to aim and then release with a flourish of raised hands to fire their projectile at the offending structure. For the most part, the Kinect controls work really well. It should be noted for those with the minimum amount of space recommended that the game requires a little more room than usual, for the player to move back and from side to side. But if you are blessed with an ample gaming area, you will be able to enjoy how accurate this title actually is, especially considering many of the Kinect games that have come before.
As part of their castle crushing quest, players will have a variety of different ammunition to use, with various different effects. Projectiles can be controlled whilst in the air with a pair of special gloves and some vigorous hand flapping, ensuring that they head towards the target tower. One of the special types of ammunition actually sprouts glider-like wings and allows the player to do their best aeroplane impression (engine-noises optional) as they actually guide it to their target. Other types of ammunition may result in a spectacular explosion or increase in speed to penetrate their target and keep going.
Players are awarded medals depending on their success in the level. The levels begin fairly easily, but managing to achieve gold even in the early levels will require some skill as the player will be expected to target very specific places on the towers, usually at the very base. Players can also pick up various power-ups through the course of the levels, which have effects such as increasing the explosive power and leading to much higher scores. Placement of these power-ups can quite often act as hints for where the player should be aiming if they want to go for gold.
The whole flinging balls at castles gameplay is tied together with a simple story in which the player takes on the role of apprentice to a quirky couple of characters who make their living by destroying castles that have been infested by Goblins. It has a certain level of charm to it, ensuring that the title is family friendly without relying on too much cheese. The same can be said for the visuals and sound. Everything is inoffensive enough that core gamers won’t have to leave the room, whilst the casual audience can enjoy their wholesale destruction guilt free.
Wreckateer is a light, easy-going and, dare I say it, casual title. Being “easy to pick up, but difficult to master”, the game is perfectly suited to the casual market, whilst still holding something of a challenge to those core gamers who happen to have a Kinect unit lying around. The problem for the core gamer is that there is very little by way of depth, with a non-existent story and what amounts to repetitive gameplay.
But the reality is that Wreckateer is not aimed at the core market. It is for casual gamers and players of Angry Birds who want something on the big screen. So far as Kinect games go, Wreckateer is certainly one of the better titles available and when you consider the bargain price of 800 MSPoints, if you have a Kinect unit then you really should give the game a try.