What a wreck

Continuing on with the Xbox’s Summer of Arcade promotion is the one required Kinect title of the group: Wreckateer. Best described probably as a 3D Angry Birds clone, Wreckateer sees you play as an up and coming trainee in the lucrative world of…well…wrecking. 60 Goblin infested castles await you and your Scottish-accented trainers as you have been tasked by your king to clear the land of these green, smelly little hellspawns. And, of course, the only way to do that is to destroy the castles they now call home and send them packing.

The controls for the game are simple, and as proven with many Kinect titles in the past, the more simple the controls for the sensor to pick up, the better. All you have to do with Wreckateer is walk a step forward to grab your ballista launcher, step backwards to ready it, turn to aim, and spread your arms out to let go and let buck shot fly, hopefully demolishing all in the shot’s path. And so yes, the controls for Wreckateer actually work and don’t require constant recalibration like some other motion control games, and their simple appeal make them perfect for gamers of all ages.

The only other motion you have to worry about is raising your arms above your head to activate the special abilities of some of the shots you can use. With six special shots in all ranging from the lift shot, which you can boost in mid-air up to three times, to the split shot, which breaks up into four smaller pieces and scatters its chaos across the screen, the game has a bit of strategy to it in that looking ahead and saving certain shots for certain targets is critical to reaching the best score possible. And only by medaling with at least a bronze high score, can you advance to the next castle.

Unfortunately, even with the controls of the game being as solid and as responsive as they are (for a Kinect game anyway), the game play itself loses its appeal rather quickly. I love blowing stuff to kingdom come as much as the next guy, but 60 castles was a bit much to be standing in front of my TV for and most of them really just seemed like excuses to try to bloat the game into a slightly longer experience.

My other major problem with the game is the hit detection. Often I would smash these massive, sprawling towers at their base, and when they came crashing down onto other parts of the castle, as I stood by proudly, like a mighty lumberjack after felling a redwood, much of the still standing castle wouldn’t see nary a brick crack after being pummeled by the concrete I brought raining down upon it. This proved frustrating as I longed to see towers and castle walls topple like dominos. And this is when the towers actually decided to fall. There were several instances where it looked like a single brick was holding towers up that should have fallen, again adding to my frustration as I fell just short of the computer generated high score due to the game blatantly ignoring several laws of science.

When all was said and done though, I reminded myself that at $10 (800 MSP) Wreckateer is the cheapest of the Summer of Arcade titles and even if it became dull or frustrating after a while, there was indeed some fun had, at least early on, and I could see this easily winning over a pre-teen audience.. And should it’s arcade-like game play, high score targets, and online leaderboards be your cup of tea, then this might prove worthwhile to a larger audience. The rest of us know however that it’s probably just a lot simpler to download Angry Birds for an even cheaper price tag and we won’t need to move around as much either.

SUMMARY: Entertaining at first, the repetitive grind of 60 cookie-cutter levels wears on you quickly in this Angry Birds clone.

  • THE GOOD: Simple controls that respond relatively well to the Kinect
  • THE BAD: Dull, repetitive game play becomes boring after short amount of time
  • THE UGLY: Having to listen to Scottish narrators for 60 levels

SCORE: 5.0

Wreckateer is a XBLA exclusive (Kinect required).