Angry Birds has a lot to answer for, doesn’t it? Not only are we besieged by clones of the game in each operating system’s app store, but now we’re seeing the influence stretch to console gaming. Even the master itself – Rovio — is exerting its influence, confirming that Angry Birds Trilogy will be coming to Kinect for Xbox 360.
But why all this talk of Angry Birds when we’re supposed to be talking of Wreckateer? Well, we don’t think that it’s unfair to say that Wreckateer takes some very large pointers from the 2D sensation. Your main goal is to destroy the structures that the enemy — who are some incredibly familiar-looking green chaps referred to as “goblins” here — live in and around, rather than the direct or indirect destruction of the enemy themselves. You'll get bonus points and a chance to have a free retake of a botched shot in the future should you take one of the actual creatures out, though.
Your weapon of choice is – as you could have predicted – the bastilla. Oh, alright...catapult. Combined with varying types of projectile, your task is to destroy as much of the castle that stands in front of you as possible within a limited number of shots. The more you destroy, the more you score, and as you blast away different percentages of the structure, you’re awarded multipliers and other score boosts to help you reach that gold medal level.
As the aforementioned Angry Birds stands to testify, the game concept itself is not a bad one. The Kinect controls – which ask you to step forward, grab a shot, then step backwards in order to pull the catapult back – work, and work really nicely. But something is missing. Far before you’ve reached the last of Wreckateer’s 60 or so levels, you’ll feel that the game is a little repetitive. You fire shots at a castle, only to ever be rewarded with a gold medal and a very, very similar challenge, over and over again until you’ve completed the game. Some will be drawn in to the score challenge side of things, as how you scored compared to your friends is shown upon the completion of each level.
We have to spare a paragraph to mention the voice acting of Wretch – one of your mentors in the game. He displays an amazing range of accents, none of which are deliberate. You can’t really tell where he’s supposed to be from, as he can quite literally start a sentence as a Scotsman, before running through Welsh, Jamaican, Irish, Cornish and Geordie accents by the end of it. Rarely has voice acting been this bad. Fortunately, believability isn’t at the height of Wreckateer’s list of requirements, but we just had to make mention of it.
Wreckateer is a great demonstration of how games can be controlled with Kinect; everything from the menu system to the gameplay itself is right on the money, control-wise. Just because it gets that one aspect right though, doesn’t mean that we can forgive what is an incredibly repetitive structure. There are worse games out there for 800 points, but this is by no means essential.