December 13, 2011

Kinect Rail Shooter

Lasting First Impressions of Blackwater from 505 Games

Blackwater BoxartBlackwater from 505 Games, developed by Zombie Studios, had a lot riding on it.  It was boasting itself as the first FPS game developed for Kinect.  That’s a huge reputation to get right the first time out of the gate.  Unfortunately, the game stumbles at the starting line and never quite gets back on track.

Those of you who have been following my reviews this year knows that, while many games have received a “NOT IMPRESSED” rating, very few of them were actually painful to play (except Tron Evolution Battle Grids).  Blackwater now ranks up there as one of these games that I just couldn’t wait to stop playing.  One hour of gameplay in Blackwater seemed like an eternity!

The game starts out with an in-game cinematic and the first thing I noticed was how yesterday this game looked.  I thought for a moment that I was playing a Wii title, not a title on the XBOX360.  Okay, not every studio has the time and budget that studios like Epic have, so I’ll give them a break on the visuals.  The game has to at least play well, then right? They must have spent their time perfecting the Kinect controls to create a great shooter experience.  Right? Right?  Sadly, no.  After the initial cinematic was completed, I was thrown directly into a combat situation with absolutely no instructions on what to do or how to control the game.  Within 7 seconds, the game was over.  For a game that is bringing FPS controls to Kinect for the very first time, one would assume the game would at least tell you how to play.  Nope.  It tells you nothing and you are left trying to figure it out within that 7 seconds before you die.  So I restarted the game and had to go through the cinematics once again before I could try playing once more.

Blackwater Screen 1

The controls are fairly simple once they are realized.  One hand controls the reticule of your gun and hovering over an enemy will shoot them.  Move your body up, down, left, and right will change your viewing perspective.  Other than that, the game is a rail shooter and you simply clear one area before moving to the next.  If you are low on health, simply duck behind some cover and wait for your health to regenerated.  It’s really that simple.  But it’s awful to play.  The game simply feels very slow and cumbersome.  The aiming mechanism feels too slow and imprecise. I found myself overshooting the targets and constantly having to adjust which takes extra time and more chance of being shot by the enemies.

Okay, since the box clearly states that is is simply “Better with Kinect Sensor” it had a controller option.  That’s got to be easier then, right?  Wrong.  Here I am assuming that it will now be a simple FPS game like any other.  Boy, was I wrong.  How you have to use the left stick to aim the reticule as you did using your hand using Kinect.  Okay, that’s fine.  But the right stick is used as a replacement to your body movements, moving your sight left, right, up, and down, only it’s extremely difficult to control, and very confusing.

Neither the Kinect nor the gamepad controls are, in any way, fun to play and Blackwater, while a decent attempt at a Kinect FPS game, falls incredibly short.  I seriously did not want to play this game for an hour.

505 Games, I gave you a painful hour, and I am NOT IMPRESSED.

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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