Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Rock-flinging Wreckateer a smashing good time

A physics-based puzzler that might best be described as a cross between the perennially popular Angry Birds games and the PlayStation Network’s twisted but enjoyable Pain, this fantastical rock flinger has players lobbing projectiles into goblin-infested castles with an aim to raze them to the ground.

Iron Galaxy Studios

I've been itching to put together a list of my top five Kinect games for grownups. The problem? I've only encountered three worthy of the distinction: Child of Eden, Dance Central 2, and The Gunstringer.

Happily, Iron Galaxy Studio's Unreal Engine-powered Wreckateer – the latest in Microsoft's Summer of Arcade festival of Xbox Live Arcade games – gets me one closer to completing the list.

A physics-based puzzler that might best be described as a cross between the perennially popular Angry Birds games and the PlayStation Network's twisted but enjoyable Pain, this fantastical rock flinger has players lobbing projectiles into goblin-infested castles with an aim to raze them to the ground.

Story continues below advertisement

The motion controls are both intuitive and precise. Players step forward and reach out to grab ammunition slotted into the string of a huge ballista, then take a step away from the Kinect sensor to pull back and set tension. Aiming is accomplished by stepping left or right and moving your hands up or down.

Play continues after the projectile is launched. You'll need your hands to touch shots mid-flight, making minute adjustments to direction and trajectory by tapping the sides of your shells. Plus, some shot types come with special abilities, like the flying shot, which allows players to extend their arms and pilot the bullet like a hang glider, and the bomb shot, which players can detonate on command.

The tutorial lasts a few levels, but you'll get the hang of things almost immediately. More importantly, I was having fun right out of the gate. Obliterating rock walls, ploughing into green-skinned gobbies, sitting back and taking in the collateral damage as towers collapsed onto lower structures... it's just the sort of thing that would appeal to anyone with a weakness for the pleasures of smashing stuff and causing a bit of mayhem.

There's not much diversity between levels – the castles look more or less the same, just with different layouts – but there is a noticeable progression of difficulty, as well as an increasing number of power ups and point multipliers to exploit. Latter levels require precise shots that force players to send their projectiles flying through floating icons before striking ramparts at exact angles that cause chain reactions of collapsing towers and parapets. Chance plays a role, but only highly skilled players will complete the second half of the game with gold scores.

However, as much fun as I've had with Wreckateer, there remains plenty of room for improvement.

The physics system is downright wonky. Some towers will collapse if they come into contact with just a bit of crumbling rubble, while others will, impossibly, continue to stand on a couple of corner stones after the rest of the foundation has been pulverized. A more realistic depiction of structural physics would go a long way toward making this demolition extravaganza even more satisfying.

There's also work to be done in appearance. Unusually simplistic explosion effects, textures, and models make this feel more like a ported mobile game than something developed explicitly for a current generation console. Given that the game's existence wasn't even announced until a few months ago, I can't help but think the presentation problems are the result of a rushed development cycle. The game was likely hurried in order to secure a spot in Microsoft's well publicized and lucrative Summer of Arcade series.

Story continues below advertisement

Still, below average visual style can't keep this one from shining. I spent hours-long sessions with Wreckateer, compelled to play just one more level until it was well past my bedtime. That's an experience I haven't had very often with motion controlled games in general, and the sort of thing I'd love to see more of from Kinect.

Wreckateer

Platform: Xbox 360

Developer: Iron Galaxy Studios

Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios

ESRB: E 10+

Story continues below advertisement

Score: 8/10

Report an error
About the Author
Game and Gadget Reporter

Chad Sapieha has been writing about video games and consumer gadgets for the Globe and Mail since 2003. His work has been published in magazines, newspapers, and Web sites across North America, and he has appeared as an expert on television and radio newscasts. More

Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Please note that our commenting partner Civil Comments is closing down. As such we will be implementing a new commenting partner in the coming weeks. As of December 20th, 2017 we will be shutting down commenting on all article pages across our site while we do the maintenance and updates. We understand that commenting is important to our audience and hope to have a technical solution in place January 2018.

Discussion loading… ✨