Blue Estate review

There are only two reasons I use Kinect on the Xbox One at the moment, voice commands which work perfectly and Fantasia: Music Evolved which is just brilliant. Without those it’s a bit redundant. I hoped that Blue Estate, developed by HeSaw, would give my Kinect a new lease of life and while it didn’t quite give me another reason to use Kinect regularly, it still ended up being a bit of fun.

The first thing you notice about Blue Estate is that it’s a pretty crass game, the title sequence has a scantily clad pole dancer prancing around and frankly the tone of the game doesn’t improve. The game is a rail shooter based on the Eisner Awards-nominated Blue Estate comic books from Viktor Kalvachev. I’ve never read these comics before and I don’t think I’ll bothering after playing this, it’s just not my kind of style or humour.

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You play as self styled “angel of murder” Tony Luciano, he is a bit of an idiot to be honest. He also needs a haircut. He is full of ‘quick wit’ or as I like to call it ’close to the line offensiveness’ no one in the game escapes a put down so at least he is consistent. It’s not all terrible, some of the narration is quite funny and at points reminded me of parts of the Borderlands humour, it just not going to be for everyone – without judging him (too much) Rich really liked it!

While the story and narrative is pretty forgettable, the visuals aren’t. The cartoon art at the start of each menu is gorgeous and each of the seven levels look brilliant too. Water effects are great, the character models are varied and they’re also a treat on the eye.

You can play using the Kinect sensor or by using a controller, but it’s much easier to play using Kinect – there isn’t much to remember either, using your right hand as the ‘gun’ you aim around the screen at the enemies and the game does the rest for you. You don’t have to be completely accurate, if you are fairly close to the head area you’ll get a headshot. To reload, you just drop your hand. The left hand is used for gestures, this can be opening doors, collecting health or lashing out at opponents who get too close. I mentioned earlier that Tony needs his hair cut, and I meant it, at really annoying times his hair covers the screen and needs brushing out of the way, funnily enough it always happens when there are four or 5 opponents on screen. You can duck into cover but it doesn’t work too well, despite getting into cover the game kept forcing me back even though I hadn’t moved. If you have to play with the controller you are likely to enjoy the game a whole lot less, it’s just too fiddly and you constantly feel like you are too slow to react to your opponents – this game is built solely for Kinect!

For the most part your opponents are just goons that you can easily take down, but there are some tougher opponents that require more bullets to take them down. Some enemies throw grenades or have more powerful weapons and the boss levels can take a while to beat. They aren’t very interesting either, you’d shoot at the boss a bit, they run off in a direction and you shoot again, you repeat this cycle until they are defeated. At the end of each level you are given a rank based on different criteria such as biggest combo, number of head shots etc but the more you practice (and the more patience you have) you’ll end up with an S rank eventually, whether you’ll play the game long enough to keep trying is another matter.

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As you complete each level the arcade version unlocks, giving you the opportunity to play some quite entertaining game modes. My favourite is ‘Kill to Survive’, a mode where you have to… well, kill to survive. There is no health gauge so you need to keep killing opponents before death becomes you, it’s quite frantic and I found myself saying “one more go!” more often than I thought I would. There are also modes where you can take advantage of Slow-Motion action to beat the clock and a mode similar to the Gun Game from Call of Duty. There are different difficulty levels if you want more of a challenge and online leaderboards to compare yourself to your online pals.

I’ve wrestled with scoring Blue Estate, parts of it I really like but there are just as many parts that I really disliked. If you don’t own Kinect I would definitely avoid it as it’s just too fiddly with a controller but if you do and you can get over the dubious dialogue it isn’t too bad a game although you may find your time being better spent elsewhere.

Thanks to Xbox & HeSaw for supplying TiX with a download code

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