At first glance, Wreckateer may certainly come off as being Angry Birds in 3D. If it weren’t for the intuitive control scheme and the ability to push the Kinect hardware in the right direction — that is to say, away from Kinect: Star Wars — the word “clone” would be an apt description of the game. However, while it doesn’t feature the immediate press-and-drag style controls made famous by Rovio’s popular arcade puzzle game, there is a fair amount of charm and creativity that Wreckateer offers, setting it apart from the aforementioned winged beasts, and keeping the genre fresh in its own way.
For starters, Wreckateer was developed specifically for Kinect. While it is less physically demanding than most Kinect titles, its controls are as clever and simplistic as they are effective. Of course, anyone already having Kinect-related issues with their living room set-up will still face movement glitches, unrecognized actions, and more. In general, Wreckateer is an addictive puzzle arcade title that also happens to be a more physically demanding response to the finger-flicking Angry Birds – but what exactly do you do?
As far as objectives go, the game is quite clear from the beginning: destroy Goblin-infested castles on behalf of the King. To do this, players load cannonballs into a large crossbow, step back to set the power of the shot, and open their arms to let fly swift medieval justice. The more damage caused, the more points are awarded to the player, with clearing out Goblins being a secondary priority to whetting your palate for destruction. Earn at least a bronze medal, and you’re on your way to the next castle.
Assisting in the task are a number of power-ups and helpful advice from your new employers. There are also six types of ammunition at your disposal, ranging from explosive to self-propelling, all of which can be controlled through interaction with the Kinect device. Basic cannonballs can be “slapped” to change direction slightly, flying cannonballs can be controlled by spreading your arms and tilting them in different directions. Shots can also be aimed through various markers, providing score boosts, explosive effects, and other useful power-ups.
However simple the concept behind Wreckateer, its quick learning curve and clever gameplay make for a fun and somewhat challenging experience. Tougher levels are still practically ragequit-proof, and with the ability to re-take unfavorable shots with Mulligans — acquired with every three Goblins squashed — players will only have a difficult time walking away from the game itself.
Of course, with so many fun and positive aspects, there are also a few pitfalls. Avatar movements can be clunky and easily interrupted; fired shots sometimes don’t end up landing where one would expect; and large chunks of castle can be held up, rather unconvincingly, by a very small area. Despite this, most of the 60 levels you will encounter are easily playable, and the aforementioned flaws are few and far between.
As far as Kinect-specific titles go, Wreckateer is fairly simple. It’s not very taxing, graphically or physically speaking, and weighs in at only a little over 1gb in size. At 800 points — or roughly $10 — it’s well worth the price, and is one of the better Kinect games to come along in some time.
Wreckateer is available now via Xbox Live as part of the Summer of Arcade promotion.
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