July 25, 2012

Castle Smashers

Lasting First Impressions of Wreckateer

Developed by Iron Galaxy  |  Published by Microsoft Studios

Wreckateer boxartI was pleased to see gameplay featured in Microsoft’s E3 2012 press briefing from a Kinect title that wasn’t a fitness application or dancing game but I have to assume that the fine folks at Iron Galaxy felt quite a bit of pressure to deliver something that could restore gamers’ faith in Microsoft’s motion sensor as a piece of gaming hardware. We’re now in the second week of this year’s Summer of Arcade promotion and today Microsoft Studios lets loose their volley. With the disappointment of Steel Battalion fresh in my mind, I spent an hour moving furniture, flapping my arms, and stepping on the dog to find out if Wreckateer is worth your Microsoft Points and the physical effort.

Wreckateer is third person bombardment game set in a medieval fantasy world and features the antics of the Wreck & Tinker Destruction Company. You play as a new recruit learning how to rid the kingdom of a goblin infestation by destroying the infested castles and any nearby structures using a ballista-like slingshot and a variety of ammunition. It’s not the most subtle way of dealing with a problem, but it gets the job done. Each level features a different castle complex, occupied by an assortment of mocking green fiends, for you to raze with your ammo allotment, earning you points based on the number of structures smashed and goblins goo-ified. Scores are then measured on a three tiered system of bronze, silver, and gold, compelling you to replay levels in an attempt to earn the highest ratings. Starting to sound familiar? Think of Wreckateer as a medieval Angry Birds, only played from a third person perspective, featuring less story and passive observation and more active involvement in the demolition, all with a little Boom Blox thrown in.

Wreckateer screen 1

The single player campaign begins with a decent tutorial using the simplest type of ammunition, the ‘Basic Shot’ (i.e. a large rock). You’ll learn how to operate your company issued siege weapon by using intuitive full body gestures that include setting the ammunition in place with both hands, walking backward to pull back and build shot strength, positioning your body to set the angle and firing arc, and then throwing your arms out to the sides to release the shot. The action doesn’t stop there though, as the action switches to a chase camera view and allows you to apply ‘English’ to your shot’s trajectory by sweeping your hands across the projectile in any direction. The amount of influence you can exert on a shot’s current bearing is inversely proportional to the force with which it was launched, so plan your gold level strategies accordingly.

Wreckateer screen 2

Your employers, Wreck and Tinker, introduce an additional five shot types throughout the game, each with a special manually activated ability, and I was able to wreak havoc with all but one of them during my hour of play time. The Split Shot breaks into four smaller tethered projectiles that are linked to your arm motions and is useful for taking out wide targets. The Flying Shot can be flown manually using glider style arm movements and allows for precise navigation around obstacles and earns you Daredevil bonuses with deft piloting. The Bomb Shot can be used to trigger an explosion manually at any time or automatically after impact and is perfect when a wide area of effect is needed. The Speed Shot will accelerate once activated and travel like a bullet, penetrating through multiple targets or structures. I hope to soon find out what the Lift Shot is capable of. Power-up Icons are strategically placed throughout each level and afford point bonuses or special attributes to your shots once passed through. There are also Hot Goblins, red goblins suspended from hot air balloons, that will adhere to your shot if struck and explode on final impact. Satchel charges found on certain towers and walls can be set off on impact, leading to even more spectacular explosions. Special bonuses can also be awarded for style and creativity but are only revealed through exploration and experimentation. My favourite special bonus was the Giant Bomb bonus awarded for flying a Bomb Shot through a Bomb Icon power-up, and came complete with audio shoutouts to the site of the same name. Careful strategies will be required to squeeze maximum points out of each level, including the combination of shot type, travel path, Icons, bonuses, and target structures. Obsessive and competitive players alike will find plenty of replay value here.

Although the controls were sometimes finicky and suffered from latency issues inherent to the sensor hardware, Wreckateer is a great example of what an Arcade Kinect game can be. For only 800 MSP, pick this one up for some casual fun or to spend hours obsessing over gold levels and leaderboards.

Iron Galaxy, I gave you an hour and I am IMPRESSED

NOTE: Wreckateer is the first game to feature Avatar Famestar, a Microsoft Studios program that allows players to earn Fame and, ultimately, cross-game Avatar rewards by completing challenges in Famestar enabled titles. During my time with Wreckateer I earned a small amount of Fame by completing a weekly challenge but not enough to earn a reward.

About the Author

is an avid gamer on all platforms, unapologetic graphics whore and peripheral junkie. He is also a drummer both electronic and acoustic, a loving husband, and adoring father to two lovely girls. Follow Craig on Twitter as @Talus as he eats sandwiches and posits on the latest inconsequential happenings in the games industry.



Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Lasting First Impressions Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a platforming puzzle adventure game like no other platforming puzzle adventure game available today. I was not expecting to love this game as much as I do now. Starbree...
by Sean


The OMG! Hour Episode 60

The One with the Hosers et’s talk about games. In this week’s The OMG! Hour, we go from Destiny to GTA V to Metal Gear Solid V, to the Summer of Arcade.  We talk about it all.  This generation may be coming to an ...
by Sean


Healthy Gaming Diary: Week 1

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013 Dear Diary, Well, I did it. I actually took my first step and began this new fitness plan. I always told myself that I would start one before but it never happened.  It’s been over a year since I...
by Sean



Be the first to comment!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: