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Platform(s): Xbox 360
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Iron Galaxy
Release Date: July 25, 2012


XBLA Preview - 'Wreckateer'

by Erik "NekoIncardine" Ottosen on June 8, 2012 @ 12:15 a.m. PDT

Wreckateer uses Kinect to put you in control of a massive castle-wrecking ballista. With the help of Wreck and Tinker, travel the land and destroy 60 castles infested with goblins using six magical projectiles.

E3 is an opportunity for companies to show lineups of their biggest and smallest games. In the case of Iron Galaxy Studio's Wreckateer, a small-ish, seemingly simple game could easily turn out to be a new breakout hit for Kinect. At Microsoft's "Best of E3 2012" event, we had a chance to try the game, and we were surprisingly impressed.

Let's start with the super simplistic explanation of the formula: It's Angry Birds in 3-D. More accurately, it's Crush The Castle, the game that inspired Angry Birds, in 3-D. While you're manning a ballista instead of a slingshot or trebuchet, the same core rules apply: throw objects to destroy other objects for points.

In Wreckateer, goblins have infested castles across the land. You must wreck the castles to drive out the goblins out because rebuilding the castle is cheaper than sending armies to do the job. This simple, almost fairy-tale-esque plot justifies the simple, fantastical art style and supports the effective destruction physics.

The biggest way the game distinguishes itself from its 2-D brethren, surprisingly, isn't the jump to 3-D or change in control scheme, which has you grabbing, pulling and releasing the ballista string to fire. Instead, the title emphasizes the manipulation of your weaponry after you've fired it. All cannonballs can be nudged by waving your hands across them, ever so slightly shifting their path and allowing you to strike from nonintuitive angles. Even this seemingly minor change allows for a wide array of creative shots, which can change the entire nature of the game, before you even get to gimmick shots.

All gimmick shots are triggered by moving both hands to a "Y" pose. In the demo, this was tuned to a "T," so it's difficult to accidentally trigger but can easily be fired when you want it. The flight shot, once triggered, lets you control the flight by raising and lowering your arms, allowing for all sorts of curves. At the end of its path, it explodes based on how quickly it was moving, encouraging an epic dive bomb. The split shot splits into four chained balls, which follow the position of both hands, allowing for wide destruction paths.

The subtlety comes in its scoring and leaderboards. Besides an array of point targets you can grab for score, Wreckateer rewards destruction with a multiplier based on how much of the castle you've destroyed with all of your shots thus far. While heavy destruction is the key, attaining that lofty objective can be startlingly complex. However, most unlocks only require bronze medals, which are relatively easily attained in the game.

Wreckateer starts from a classic core and adds more subtlety, interaction and challenging objectives on a distinct visual core. This summer release has a lot of potential and could turn out to be a big game for Microsoft.

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