Since I published my preview I’ve finished story mode, played a ton of arcade mode as well as trying different difficulties and the local co-op, I’ve put a lot of time into the Kinect controls particularly as I wanted to make sure I was giving them a fair shot, I’ll try not to overlap with my preview too much though.
I detailed the control schemes in my preview with the Kinect controls, aim with your right hand and swiping gestures with your left (used for such things as collecting ammo, health and slapping away enemies etc) the problem I had with the Kinect controls was exclusively on the gestures, I found them to be unresponsive at times and this can be frustrating. The aiming was always accurate for me and I liked it, as I went through the story I found that my feelings on this didn’t change much, the aiming is really good and I’m pleased with them, it’s a shame I found the gestures to be less reliable although I should point they weren’t broken, it was generally when the window opportunity to do the gesture and pick up a health pack for example was small that it didn’t work.
Each character has a strange particular “thing” that happens and requires a gesture to stop, for Tony his hair will fall down across the screen, blocking it until you do a gesture swipe to get rid of it, for Clarence a Chihuahua (story related!) will grab his leg and you need to swipe again to kick off, I found these didn’t add anything to the game and seemed like pointless gimmicks to have you do something more with the gestures which I found the game just doesn’t need, as an on-rails motion based shooter, Blue Estate is a good game and whether you’re using Kinect or the controller its enjoyable and there’s lots to do.
Arcade mode is an Xbox One exclusive mode and is really where Blue Estate stands out, the story levels are good 20-25 minutes each but arcade mode levels are shorter but to the point: pure shooting. There aren’t any gestures except to turn on slow-mo, no health, no ammo (you do need to reload though), just fast paced shooting and I really liked it, they take around 3 minutes each, depending on how well you do. There are 3 difficulties; Normal, Abnormal and Crazytrain, I actually found Crazytrain to be easier using Kinect, I mentioned in my preview I found moving the cursor with the right stick to be a sluggish, it’s not slower to the point where it’s a problem but it just felt better with Kinect and I liked that, it’s a strength of the Kinect controls rather than a weakness of using a controller.
The arcade levels skip all the cut scenes, everything is on a timer and you must get a kill every X amount of seconds or you fail and have to restart, 4 seconds maximum between kills on Crazytrain difficulty(!) and it keeps you moving so if you don’t clear all the enemies in a certain time it will just move you on, this really does represent the best part of Blue Estate simply because of its speed and focus on just killing and is worth the price of entry alone.
There were a few other things I didn’t enjoy so much about the story mode, one was the boss battles, they seemed overly long and frustrating, relying a lot on the gestures too and shooting the bosses doesn’t particularly do much damage, you need to shoot crates or other objects that can cause damage, they would have been better if they didn’t have so much health.
I also felt that there was some issues with cover, it was fine when it was there (just move your hand/cursor down, when the blue symbol shows, see the picture below) and it works fine but it’s not always available, when trying to conserve health or reloading it would have been nice to have it always as an option, the environments certain lend themselves it generally being available a lot but it’s used more sparingly than I would have liked.
The story itself can pretty much be skipped if it doesn’t interest you, its over-the-top and cheesy in a way that will either amuse you or annoy you but as I said its easy to skip, I wish there had been a bit less of the game doing some talking and look around as it broke up the action and slowed things down a bit, the shooting is satisfying and I wanted to keep doing that, especially as the bits as you go through the levels don’t add a lot.
The weapons all feel pretty good, you move your aiming arm up and across you like you’re reaching for something on your back to switch them, the usual suspects are there: pistols, shotguns, revolver, machine guns, personally I like the shotgun because of the power and ability to clear enemies out quickly, reloading is very snappy which is nice that it doesn’t take too long or need a special gesture (just move your aim hand down).
Story mode features local co-op for 2 players (there is no co-op for arcade mode) and can be played with one person using controller and the other Kinect (or both the same) so its nice it offers each person a choice, it seemed like a fun way to go through the story and compete for high scores, you do need to share things like health though which does add an extra level of communication between the two players, its all on the same screen – not split in the middle to make it easier to play and you can clear out the bad guys together! As the story levels are much longer than their arcade counterparts this seemed like a really fun way to play through the story if you have someone else around.
The unlocking system seems a bit prohibitive, as you complete a level on Normal you unlocks it in Arcade mode and on Abnormal as well as the next level (if that makes sense) on Normal but this doesn’t carry over to 2 player mode or Crazytrain in the story and you need to do each level in co-op from the beginning and completing story levels on Abnormal will unlock levels on Crazytrain, it might seem like a nitpick but it seemed like a strange way of doing it, its worth noting that all levels in Arcade can be played on Abnormal and Crazytrain as soon as they are unlocked.
Blue Estate for Xbox One puts Kinect as the focus of a first-person shooter and does it well, Arcade mode is a blast and the aiming is responsive and accurate, whilst I had some issues with gestures this doesn’t detract from how well it does work in general. There are lots of options and getting to the top of leaderboards will be a fun challenge, any future Kinect action games should definitely look at how Blue Estate controls as the way to do motion-based FPS and if you want to play with a controller that is perfectly fine too.
Thanks to Aurélie at He Saw for providing a review code!
Price: $12.99/£10.39 (20% off limited time discount for Gold members)
Formats: Xbox One (Played), Playstation 4 (uses Dualshock 4 gyro controls)
Developer: He Saw
Publisher: He Saw