Wreckateer debuted at E3 2012 and it is already hitting The Xbox 360 less than two months later. Wreckateer’s core gameplay will draw many similarities to the mobile hit Angry Birds. Both games have the player shoot objects of varying capability at structures in order to destroy them and their inhabitants. In Angry birds there are green pigs, in Wreckateer there are green goblins. That is where the similarities end.
Where Angry Birds gives you control up until the point you choose to fire, Wreckateer allows you to control the trajectory of your shot until impact. There is a variety of different ammunition types that can be interacted with once fired from the ballista on their way to the goblin infested castles. The basic shot requires you to slap it around to adjust the intended trajectory. The bomb shot allows you to detonate the projectile before impact which is great for compromising structural integrity. The flying shot requires you to spread out of your arms and steer as if you were piloting a hang glider.
Bonuses and power-ups begin to appear in levels, giving the player addition targets to shoot for in addition to bringing down every structure. As with Angry Birds, the player has no choice regarding which shots will be available to them during each level. This adds a bit of puzzle element requiring the player to plan their shots carefully to hit the optimal targets.
It is incredibly satisfying piloting these shots into a successful hit, bringing down castle spires and creating grand explosions. The game serves up 60 levels with varying structures and terrain, focusing solely on blowing stuff up. It doesn’t get bogged down with any sort of narrative apart from a brief tutorial sequence. This is to the game’s benefit since it is perfect for playing in short bursts and trading out with other players.
Longer play sessions can begin to get frustrating especially once the difficulty spikes. Eventually the minimum requirements to beat a level become quite high leading to repeated failure. While some of the failure is due to the choice of trajectory much of the frustration is out of the player’s control.
For the most part the Kinect control mechanics work very well. In order to fire a shot the player need to step forward and grab onto the ballista, pull back to increase the power, move left or right to aim and then fling their hands in the air to fire. While the fire gesture can sometimes mess with the shot’s alignment, most mistakes can be corrected midair.
The simple control gestures work very well with Kinect, making it easy to perform like a marksman and have a great time. Wreckateer begins to run into some issues when the failure mentioned earlier is caused by the game’s physics and problems with the Kinect sensor itself. Firing a basic shot into the side of a tower may blow it up in one run of a level but the same shot will barely do any damage during the next. There are some other weird physics problems that occurred frequently enough to become quite frustrating.
Wreckateer also becomes unplayable when the input from Kinect doesn’t translate whatsoever to the game. Using the same set up I used successfully hours earlier, the Kinect literally could not recognize my distance from the sensor or my movements left to right correctly. The result was that aiming was almost impossible and trying to play the game became a chore.
Despite some of the frustrating flaws with the Kinect and Wreckateer’s physics, it can be quite fun. Playing long sessions of Wreckateer may result in more visible problems and anger inducing gameplay but playing in short bursts or with others is a very fun experience. If you’re looking for a good Kinect game to play for short periods of time then you should check out Wreckateer.
This review is based on a downloadable copy of the 360 version of Wreckateer.