Blue Estate isn't is a unique adventure that will challenge you. The title is too easy, the enemies too mundane, and the story too thin to be worth your consumption as an en-tree. If you see it on sale think about throwing it in for a distraction, but otherwise just keep on walking.
- Focus Home Interactive
- Xbox One Store
- Febuary 18, 2015
- 1-2 (Local)
Required Disc Space:
- 4.14GB Minimum
Supported Video Output:
- Digital Download
Blue Estate on the Xbox One is a shooter developed by the team at HeShaw. Upon loading it up you will see that it is an on-the-rails game, much like 'Time Crisis', and it offers its own brand of violence filled, slightly humorous, dark gaming. We picked up the title for the Xbox One but it was also developed for the PS4 and the PC. While we have a hard time giving any 'on the rails' shooter a 'must buy' sticker, we still felt obliged to give the title a shot. So keep on reading to see if 'Blue Estate' will find its way to your library any time soon.
On the rails shooting games have always been confined to a relatively niche userbase. You don't see AAA titles developing these games because the audience simply isn't there. Still, the userbase exists. To make the genre even more niche the addition of a 'light based gun' or a handheld weapon, for at home play, has become even rarer. New technology has rendered old tech pretty much useless. But with the PSVita and the Xbox Connect there is still a way to make it work. So upon booting up Blue Estate you will have to decide how you want to play the game. You can play it straight up as a shooter, using your XB1 controller or you can go ahead and play it like a light gun shooter - only you'll be using your hands instead. Let's dive into the hand based controls first.
So if you choose to play Blue Estate 'as intended' then you will be playing with your hands and the Kinect. We think that this is the way to go, as otherwise Blue Estate feels dangerously close to just another generic shooter. So boot up your Kinect and get into position in front of your television and sensor. You will use your left hand as the analog stick. This hand controls swiping and such. Your right hand is dedicated to moving around and aiming with your gun cursor. Once enemies are on screen your cursor will instantly turn to a firable gun. If you need to reload your gun (and you will, many times) merely drop your right hand off of the screen. Reach over your shoulder to change weapons and reach down with your right hand if you need to take cover. The Kinect sensor is surprisingly accurate and it reacts well as you play, making precision based combat more enjoyable.
Our biggest issue with the Kinect controls is that they are almost perfect. The biggest, glaring, issue is that you lose a ton of control when you play with the Kinect. Your gun can only fire when enemies are on screen and that means you lose the ability to shoot at random or at hidden point treasures that are located all over the map. With that being said, hit detection is loose so your ability to spray and pray with the Kinect makes the game easier. If you don't like the sound of these flaws then stick with the controller or, even better, just skip the title altogether.
The biggest issue with Blue Estate is that it really isn't a deep game. The FPS genre is so tired that we have to see innovation to convince use to move away from the big AAA titles that dominate the genre. The Kinect light gun is a nice step in that direction, but the rest of the content in Blue Estate just isn't up to par.
The campaign mode is functional and it will move you forward but there isn't enough content or unique depth to make it enjoyable. With that being said, Blue Estate is based off of a graphic novel - so there is no reason as to why we should feel like we are playing a cardboard cutout of a story. You play as Tony Luciano, son of a Mafia Godfather, as well as a former Navy SEAL by the name of Clarence who has turned to the life of being a contract killer. Both characters should give you insight into their interesting backgrounds but they still fail to really interest us.
The essence of the story works sort of like a Tarantino film, with random violent characters weaving in and out of the narrative. There is some hubbub about rival Asian gangs, a war brewing outs of Los Angeles amongst other criminals, and Clarence as a man tasked with keeping the violence in control and going in just one direction.
The setting and genre lends itself to tons of violence, thus the spray and pray shooting tactic, as well as for some dark humor. This is the spot that Blue Estate could have separated itself from the rest of the 'doomed for bottom shelf sale' FPS games. But it doesn't. The dark humor doesn't work. Tony tries to be funny but his on the nose racial remarks are a little bit too biting. The wonky buff male enemies, ones wearing thongs and bras, feels a little bit too juvenile. There is even an "FPS Committee" that interrupts the gameplay in order to drop in a clever quip, breaking the fourth wall. Rather than being an interesting distraction you end up simply distracted.
The developers also tried to go a different direction with the art style for Blue Estate. Mixing in the vibe of cel shaded manga along with gritty textures makes for a sloppy looking title that has identity issues. It's not good looking enough to be a current gen game and it isn't retro enough to be interesting. Instead we have a product that looks graphically subpar. In fact, the grittiness of it all works so much against the tone that the developers were trying to convey - which is a shame. If the team managed to agree on a collective direction there could have been something at least interesting here.
At the end of the day what Blue Estate isn't is a unique adventure that will challenge you. The title is too easy, the enemies too mundane, and the story too thin to be worth your consumption as an en-tree. If you see it on sale think about throwing it in for a distraction, but otherwise just keep on walking.