Kinect games are always a sticky wicket from the time of announcement until review time. At first glance, it’s easy to relegate them into the arena of gimmickry, and assume that like many other games of its kind, the controls “just won’t work.”
Although there have been examples of horrid motion control design on the 360 (Steel Batallion immediately comes to mind), there are a number of developers who do it right (Gunstringer). Wreckateer is included in the pantheon of positive motion design, but as for the game itself, what you see is basically what you get.
The setup for Wreckateer is extremely elementary — you are the wrecking crew, and it’s your job to eliminate goblins that have taken over your kingdom’s castles. It’s about as simple as Angry Birds in that it just hits the ground running, and immediately lets you know what your goal is. For those of you who are expecting a bit more lore for this new IP, you may end up being disappointed.
All you have to do to control your wrecking device (also known to us real life folk as a ballista) is to pull back your arms, step back, and pull your arms out to let go, and fire the shot. Once it’s in the air, you can wave your hands to correct, or “sweep” the shot into a different area. This would all get rather boring without mixing it up a bit from time to time.Of course, what would a Crush the Castle-like game be without different powerups?
The different types of shots the game offers are probably the best aspect of Wreckateer. For instance, the flying shot allows you to hold your arms out like a bird to direct it into nearby towers — the surprising thing is, it actually works.
Content wise, you’re going to progress through the countryside aiming for the illustrious gold medal ranking on each level, as well as a number of badges that you can earn (for feats such as nearly missing a wall with certain powerups).
Sadly, most of the locales are going to look very similar, and it will grate on you after a while. There is a real missed opportunity for more recognizable landmarks in Wreckateer: think of how cool it would be to take back Neuschwanstein, for example!
Honestly? That’s about it, as this is one of the most simple games you could ever hope to play. You use solid motion controls to control projectiles that wreck castles. It’s basically Angry Birds on Kinect: it just works much better than anyone could have anticipated, given the Kinect’s pedigree so far.
This review is based on a digital copy of Wreckateer for the Xbox Live Arcade.