A guilty pleasure?
Blue Estate is a comic book series from Viktor Kalvachev and Image Comics, based around an interesting cast of characters in the seedy LA criminal underworld. I like comics, but have yet to cast my eyes over this highly regarded series. Fortunately, there is now also the Blue Estate videogame from HESAW and Focus Home Interactive on PS4 to act as an introduction to the series.
Blue Estate is an on-rails shooter centering around Tony Luciano, son of the LA crime boss Don Luciano, and Clarence, an ex-Navy Seal who has been hired to clean up the mess than Tony Luciano creates. The story is that one of Tony’s most favorite strippers, Cherry Popz, has been kidnapped by a rival gang and Tony will go to the most violent extremes to get her back. The player begins the game with the slightly floppy hair of Tony Luciano, but later will step into the hard-as-nails boots of Clarence as he has to deal with the fall out of Tony’s actions and the all-out gang war that has resulted.
So far as story goes, Blue Estate is not exactly deep. The story acts as a vessel to have the player move from one location to the next, shooting everything that moves. As the movement is taken care of by the game, the player just has to involve themselves with the task of aiming and shooting, and the occasional quicktime event. There is something incredibly satisfying about a game that takes out all of the faffing about and leaves the player with just simple destruction to cause.
And it is simple to cause the chaos required, thanks to some tight motion controls. Blue Estate takes advantage of the PS4 controller’s gyroscopic functions to allow the player to move their reticule around the screen. After a simple set up, the player moves the controller to move the reticule, focusing on when to press the trigger, reload or take cover. At any point the player can hit a button to re-center the reticule, minimizing the chances of losing the reticule off the screen. It may not work as well as a Move controller, but Blue Estate is forgiving enough, at least in the lesser difficulties, to ensure that the game is pleasurable to play.
Taking advantage of the PS4 controller doesn’t end with the gyroscope either. At various times, the player will be required to swipe the touch panel as well, to remove annoyances such as Tony’s floppy hair getting in his eyes or detaching from over-excited chihuahuas. The gesture can also be used to throw projectiles back at the enemies.
The player begins with a simple hand gun and, thankfully, unlimited ammo. However, they will come across a good variety of other, more interesting weapons through the course of the game, all of which come with a limited supply of ammunition. The environments that the player has to fight their way through are not especially varied, but seeing as the player will be spending their time trying to stay alive, this is no big deal.
Just shooting anything that moves as quick as possible is the simplest way through the game, although perhaps not the easiest route to take. As enemies pop up, a marker will begin to fill over them that indicates how close they are to doing the player damage. This gives the player an indication of which enemies to take out first, if they want to avoid being harmed. The player has five lives for each level, although using all of those lives without completion will result in more lives being awarded to make it a little easier.
Then we come to the overall flavour of the game. Being that it contains abundant semi-dressed women, gangsters and over-the-top violence, all with a coating of humour, you may not be surprised to find that the game is juvenile in its theme. Blue Estate can be crass, sexist and even borderline racist at times, which is obviously going to limit its audience. That being said, there are some genuinely funny moments, and the enjoyable gameplay can make putting up with the silliness worthwhile.
Blue Estate is a solid on-rails shooter that is fun to play despite the juvenile humour that will turn many gamers away. The mechanics are solid and the gameplay is satisfying, albeit somewhat shallow. But if you want to spend some time with your instincts and not your thoughts, Blue Estate could be the on-rails shooter for you.