Wreckateer is an interesting game in that it borrows mechanics from games like Angry Birds, but adds in a third gameplay dimension as well as Kinect support. The result is a surprisingly fun and replayable Xbox LIVE Arcade title which shows off Kinect’s capabilities better than almost all of its peers.
The almost nonexistent storyline centers around two engineers, Wreck and Tinker, who are tasked with destroying fortresses and castles that house nasty goblins. Appearing onscreen as their Xbox Avatar, players are given full control over a projectile-hurling giant ballista. The Kinect controls fully mimic the act of preparing and using the weapon. You begin by stepping forward and holding your arms out to simulate grabbing it, then stepping back and tilting your body to aim, followed by throwing your arms out to the side to launch. It’s very responsive and accurate most of the time, and while I experienced a few instances of launches going off without my signal, they were fairly rare.
When described, Wreckateer‘s gameplay sounds very basic. However, its development team was smart enough to spice things up by throwing creative additives into the mix. You are given various types of “shots”, as the characters call your projectiles, with different properties and capabilities. First up is a bomb that can explode in midair when given a physical signal. Next, a winged shot requires you to hold out your arms and tilt yourself to guide it on its own unique path. Going further, there are various other things to target besides the main buildings. Various shield-shaped icons float in the air that grant you extra points if you can get a shot to fly through them, and some buildings feature bundles of dynamite that provide extra damage when they’re hit.
Given how good your aim has to be at times, Wreckateer smartly implements a limited retry feature called Mulligans. If you are able to take out enough goblins in a level, the game will alert you that you have earned a Mulligan. If you screw up a shot and don’t hit the target you were aiming for, simply raise your left arm for a few seconds, and you will warp back to the beginning of that shot for a retry. This system is useful, and you earn just enough Mulligans per level to stand a fighting chance at getting a good score.
The developers managed to get a good amount of mileage out of this set of features, and the game’s level layouts are varied enough that you will rarely feel a sense of deja-vu. There’s also a well-crafted scoring and medal system, with bronze, silver, and gold medals given to the player depending on pre-defined score plateaus. Those who enjoy the game enough will jump at the opportunity to play some more if it means perfecting their high scores and earning more medals.
Although it features some solid gameplay, this downloadable release suffers a bit in the presentation department. Models and textures look overly simple, and while both Wreck and Tinker have plenty of fully voiced dialogue, their models never move their mouths while talking. Given the fact that it’s a downloadable game with a smaller budget than big AAA titles, this can be forgiven to some extent. However, the fact that the game’s download file is over a gigabyte is a bit puzzling considering how basic its visuals are.
Despite not being great to look at, Wreckateer is a solid title which gets good use out of a single mechanic. Its campaign is certainly long enough to justify its ten-dollar price tag, and the above-mentioned scoring system will have players coming back to raise their high score totals. Though, with that being said, the game’s most triumphant achievement could be its Kinect mechanics, which show off the motion tracker’s capabilities better than just about any other game on the market. For those reasons, Kinect owners should definitely look into this affordable title.
This review is based on a copy of the game that we received for review purposes.