Wreckateer was developed by Iron Galaxy Studios and published by Microsoft Studios. It was released on July 25, 2012 for 800 MSP. A copy was provided for review purposes.
Wreckateer has been on everyone’s minds since the first gameplay videos surfaced, and even more so since it was announced as part of this year’s Summer of Arcade. We’ve already previewed the game twice (here and here), and came away pretty impressed both times. But can the final version stack up against last year’s runaway Summer of Arcade hit Fruit Ninja Kinect?
In Wreckateer, your Xbox Live avatar is placed on a medieval wrecking crew in charge of destroying a bunch of goblin-infested castles. Similar to Angry Birds, on each level you’re given a preset number of shots with various special attributes, such as the maneuverable flying shot or the explosive bomb shot. Your goal is to use what you’ve been given to deal as much damage as possible, using your thinking cap to figure out how to rack up a massive score. And similar to Angry Birds, the result is an addictive, fun, and surprisingly strategic game.
Here’s what we liked:
Leaderboards – The absolute best part of Wreckateer is the leaderboard system. The game constantly compares you to your friends, inducing the same “just one more try” mentality that Geometry Wars 2 perfected. Not only does Wreckateer have a leaderboard for each of its 60 levels, it also breaks things down on a shot-by-shot basis against the next highest person. For anyone remotely competitive, this game is going to keep you busy for a long, long time.
Solid mechanics – Iron Galaxy describes Wreckateer as a mash-up of Angry Birds, Boom Blox, and Burnout Crash. In other words, this game will get you hooked. Kinect’s weakness has always been pinpoint accuracy, but Wreckateer rewards you for not being perfect, doling out points post-shot as you use gestures to nudge your ammo towards its target. While mass destruction is always the best way to earn points (and the only way to build your multiplier), you’re also going to need to collect power ups and pull off trick shots, adding a bit of strategy and finesse. The game also allows you to quickly redo shots or restart levels, keeping things moving at a quick, addictive pace.
Holy content, Batman – Wreckateer is an incredible value. For 800 MSP you get 50 levels, 10 bonus levels, local multiplayer, and enough back and forth with your friends on the leaderboards to last a lifetime. An initial playthrough without repeating levels will take about six or seven hours. Going back and figuring out how to get gold medals on everything will take a lot longer.
Avatar Famestars – This should probably have its own review, but since this is the first game with it implemented let’s just say that Avatar Famestars is an awesome part of Wreckateer. It essentially adds a second set of achievements to games, unlocking stuff for your avatar to wear in any game that supports Avatar Famestars. We weren’t able to see the extent of what Avatar Famestars is capable of, but we’re excited at the possibilities.
The little things – The difference between a good game and a great game is the little things, and Wreckateer does the little things right. The music is toe-tapping but completely unintrusive. The world is divided up into different areas with their own feel, and the goblins all have quirky costumes depending on what region they’re in. One really cool detail is that the characters respond when you unlock an achievement, which connects your accomplishments to the gameplay more than you normally see. These are all little details, but the attention given to them and the rest of the game adds up to give some extra depth to the world of Wreckateer.
Here’s what we didn’t like:
Can you see me now? - In every Kinect game, the biggest problem is the Kinect itself. It’s hard to fault a game when it’s clear that the platform is the actual problem, but there were some definite issues. The main thing we had problems with was when aiming for anything high in the air or far to the sides. It occasionally took three or more tries to get a shot lined up anywhere close enough to hit it, and in a few instances the ballista fired of its own accord. Of course, everyone has a different set up, so this may not be as much of an issue for others. On the other hand, you may encounter things we didn’t run into. That’s the nature of Kinect. While we did have enough issues to call this a negative, it’s important to point out that at no point were the issues bad enough to stop playing.
Minor quibbles – Although Iron Galaxy did a stupendous job thinking of almost anything, there were one or two little things that bugged us. For one thing, if you don’t immediately take a mulligan on your final shot of a level, you’re out of luck. It seems strange that the most important shot of the level isn’t easier to redo. We also had a few minor issues with the hit boxes of objects, leading to a couple of occasions where the game said we had crashed into things we were close to but hadn’t touched. We did also have the game freeze once over the eight or so hours we spent playing it. At this point, we’re nitpicking.
Wreckateer is one of the best experiences you’ll find on Kinect. It’s one of those games you can pick up for five minutes or spend hours playing the same level over and over to try and get a higher score – either way, a good time will be had. Wreckateer would be fun even for someone trapped on a desert island by themselves, but the real meat and potatoes here is in the competitive nature of the leaderboards. So check out the trial, and if you decide to pick it up make sure you convince everyone on your friends list to get a copy too. The competition will be fierce!
Score: Buy it