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Wreckateer Review

WreckateerWhat is the concept? By reworking the destructive antics of the Angry Birds franchise into a three-dimensional, Kinect-controlled environment, recent XBLA release Wreckateer risks being dismissed as derivative. After all, each of the title’s sixty stages offers a familiar objective: using a variety of flung projectiles to splinter each structure into rubble- all in an effort to earn a bronze, silver, or gold medal. Yet, as Galaga’s reworking of Galaxian (and Galaxian’s variation on Space Invaders) has shown us, sometimes a single, new innovation is just enough of an impetus to rekindle a player’s interest.

Gamers assume the guise of untested apprentice recently employed by the Wreck and Tinker Destruction Company, an outfit determined to purge the medieval realm of goblins by crumbling crenellations atop the mischievous monsters. Using gestures to aim and fire a virtual ballista, each stage provides players with a predetermined loadout of spire shattering weaponry. Preliminary levels bestow a giant orb which players can steer with their hands during the sphere’s leisurely-moving trajectory. Later, gamers catapult more exotic artillery, such as Flying Shot which can be guided by mirroring the movements of a bird in flight or the Split Shot which fragments into four smaller warheads.

WreckateerWhat are the game’s strengths? Unlike many Kinect-based titles, Wreckateer’s controls are reliably responsive. Emulating natural gestures, a player first steps forward, bringing their hands together to load the ballista. The distance of a reverse stride sets the amount of power for the weapon, while the elevation of the gamer’s arm determines the angle of the shot. Beyond having unlimited time to tweak the route of your round, the title also illuminates any structure that is in the path of eminent devastation. Wreckateer’s on-screen avatar did prove to be uncooperative during a moment of play, but that could be attributed to the harsh glare of artificial light coupled with Kinect’s routine fussiness. Regardless of lighting, rotating the ballista needed a bit more physical space than the average motion-sensing title.

The title’s other virtue is its accessibility, at least in early levels. With an infinite amount of time to arrange a shot, combined with the liberal distribution of explosives conveniently affixed to introductory castles, Wreckateer can accommodate a wide range of ability and experience levels. While gaming vets can opt to aim for strategically placed bonus items to garner a place of the game’s online leaderboards, novices are still able to issue up a reasonable razing.

WreckateerWhat are the game’s weaknesses? Although Wreckateer tries to prolong its procession of castles by varying color schemes, or setting its strongholds against snowy or rocky backdrops, before players see the game’s sixtieth citadel, tedium will inevitably emerge. While later levels introduce a light puzzle-like mechanic where players have to perform specific functions to obtain a bronze and move to the next stage, even this variation doesn’t radically deviate from Wreckateer’s basic premise. Ideally, players would have confronted more than just castles; something such as an oversized leviathan boss would have helped alleviate matters.

To a lesser extent, the game’s physics modeling has the chance to vex players. Sporadically, hitting towers at the base should send the turret tumbling down; instead the spire enigmatically remains upright, its balance secured by the frailest of seams. Large, falling pieces of castle should crumple any structures below, but instead these objects habitually crumble into innocuous dust. While the game boasts local multiplayer, only a single type of match can accommodate a competitive duo of participants.

WreckateerIs it worth the money? Considering both Wreckateer’s 800 Microsoft price point and the dearth of responsive Kinect-controlled titles, the game is recommended to players craving a new activity for their motion-sensing peripheral. As long as potential purchasers are aware of the game’s repetitive nature and space requirement, laying siege can be an entertaining activity for an audience of  varied experience levels.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

17 comments

  1. The tattooed girl at MS’s press conference was kind of cute.

    Just saying.

  2. Deagle, you seem to hate the Kinect as much as you love NIS. Don’t try to deny it.

    • Watch how conflicted he’ll be when Disgaea 5 comes with Kinect 2 support.

      • Disgaea on Xbox? With Kinect functionality?

        You just made an entire army of Prinnys laugh uncontrollably.

  3. So far the Summer of Arcade has been B minused. What gives?

  4. I played the demo because I wanted a game to wind down with and play for a few minutes. Wreckateer did the job. Don’t have to worry paying attention to the story, just blow a few castles up before bed.

  5. I’ll try the demo, but I’m not expecting much. I only play Angry Birds when the GF forces me to.

  6. This is the first review that has even mentioned any problems with the Kinect. Thank you, because I thought I was going crazy. Every other review didn’t say a thing. My avatar was moving like a fish out of water.

  7. Are your leaderboard working? Mine both show a thing except my own score.

  8. Good review. I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while and I plan on downloading it this week.

  9. I thought the physics were wonky too. If you listen to latest CAGcast Ship rags on them as well.

  10. I know this sound crazy, but can you play with the regular controller?

  11. You know, acting like you’re above Angry Birds isn’t cool. It’s a fun game that’s popular for a reason- because it’s fun and well made. Get off your high horse.

    • I’m sorry if you got that impression that I am biased toward either Angry Birds or casual games. I’m not, and even play Angry Birds Space from time to time. Occasionally, I seek out a quick, easy-going gaming experience to complement longer, more involved games.

  12. angry birds is sh*t. i’ve tried it for 5min and it’s worthless. it should’ve been a ps3 exclusive it’s so sh*tty. they should use that sh*t-looking wand thingy that ripped off the wii wand to play it. what’s worse is that they also made that sh*tty wand thingy light up like a damn beacon to locate all the losers in the world. i’ve seen video ads for those sh*t and i laughed uncontrollably for a month that by the time i finally stopped, my 6pack is even more defined. so defined, that i made my gf do all our apt. unit’s laundry on it.

  13. Washboard stomach are great for helping get out the poop streaks.