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REVIEW | “Wreckateer” Smashes Medieval Expectations

By
Posted on July 23, 2012 AT 04:00am

At the Microsoft Presser Event at E3 this year a little-known title called Wreckateer from Iron Galaxy Studios took me by surprise, and my experience with it on the floors of the convention had me singing nothing but praise. However with the full-game in my possession, does Wreckateer know how to entertain its players without seeming repetitive?

In a gameplay style similar to Angry Birds and Crush the Castle, Wreckateer has players take controller of a crossbow (known here as a Ballista) and attempt to destroy castles and the goblins that reside in them. Using the Kinect you will have to aim, launch, curve, fly, explode, and even leap your weapons towards the towering buildings and taunting green freaks. As the game levels rise, so does its difficulty.

The levels usually are set up so there’s at least one giant castle, a couple towers, shield points (that give players up to 10,000 points if you hit them), and small village homes that can also be destroyed for extra points. Each level has a certain strategy as to how to take down all the buildings around you, so it may take you a few play-throughs before you can completely liquidate an entire area of goblin-filled buildings. (HINT: TNT is your friend!) As you destroy castles your multiplier level increases, and the more you destroy in each turn the higher it goes. You can pass each level by earning the minimum points to grab a Bronze Medal, although something tells me that most gamers won’t rest until they reach gold in each area.

As the game goes on in the first few levels you are given the chance to go hands-on with each of the ammunition styles. There’s your run-of-the-mill regular rounds of steel, a flying weapon that can soar around and crash into the buildings you fly them through, explosive rounds, multiple rounds that expand their range as far as your arms can stretch, and even one that doesn’t have much reach when first launched, but can be bounced up to three times to reach higher buildings and goblins.

The biggest (and most satisfying) thing about Wreckateer is how well the Kinect controls work. You put your arms out with elbows close to your hips to grab the Ballista, take a couple steps backwards to launch your ammo farther, step left or right to aim at the castle you want, and then quickly spread your arms out to let your goblin killers soar. In order to maneuver your weapon in the air you simply brush left, right, up, or down to help your ammunition earn a better chance at reaching its destructive destination. Stretching your arms out in Y-formation activates special weapons such as explosives and bouncing techniques, and a T-formation will activate the flying ammo as you aim it around towards the building you wish to destroy.

I cannot think of any moment I’ve had spent with Wreckateer where the controls failed on me. Granted there were a couple times when I would accidentally launch a weapon when I’m not ready, but that could be more blamed on sudden reflex maneuvers. (Thank God for level re-dos and mulligans, the latter which can be earned easily as you play the game.) Honestly there hasn’t been a Kinect game that has given me this quality of control-scheme satisfaction.

The worlds of Wreckateer appear fine for the most part, with its 3D worlds looking stunning with their nicely-detailed castles and mountainous regions. Buildings explode in wonderful chunks, as bricks and stone fly through the air on impact. However I do admit that the characters you’re introduced to seem more like rejects from Pixar’s Brave movie, although some of the dialogue that is spewed out from them can be quite hilarious at times. One other issue I had was the game’s background music, which got too repetitive as gameplay went on. A little more variety, even just two or three other songs, would’ve been nice.

Players will be able to match their scores with their other Xbox Live friends, and see who is currently the king of each level. Believe me: these small bits of information will keep players in competitive mode for many a fortnight. With a friend you will also be able to take on Multiplayer levels, which have a similar layout and point system as the single player campaign. Wreckateer is also the first Xbox title to make use of the Avatar Famestars feature, which will keep track of your progress and reward you with points that could be used towards future Avatar accessory and clothing purchases.

With ten worlds that feature about five levels each Wreckateer has a lot of gameplay packed into it, not to mention the amount of replay value that is included (especially if you don’t reach Gold status your first time around). This is the type of game that was meant to be played over and over again, as each time will reveal another strategy to take out more castles and goblins. What’s more is the game never gets boring, especially when you have friends in the same room with you who wish to continuously challenge your high score.

PROS:

  • Loads of fun, competitive gameplay
  • Kinect controls work near-flawlessly
  • Various techniques, strategies make each play-through unique

CONS:

  • Music is kinda repetitive
  • Helper characters seem uninspired

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Iron Galaxy Studios has given Rovio a reason to be biting their fingernails in fear, for Wreckateer wipes the floor with what they have done in their Angry Birds world. As of now this is the best Kinect game to come out that doesn’t involve dancing, containing many hours of goblin-killing fun, along with a good amount challenges that will work the brain as much as your arms and legs. If one were to make a list as to why people should own a Kinect, Wreckateer should be near the top. Just be prepared for many hours of back-and-forth competition with your gaming chums.

FINAL GRADE: 9.2 (out of ten)

Review copy provided by Iron Galaxy Studios

Evan Bourgault is an accomplished music, anime, and video game critic. His passion for discovering new bands, developers and Japanese pop culture began in his college radio days and continues on today. Evan joined the ElectricSistaHood team in 2008 where he is a contributing editor and co-host of one of the network's weekly podcasts. Follow Evan on Twitter at twitter.com/King_Baby_Duck


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