Video game adaptations of comic book properties are at an all time high after the successful attempts at bringing series like The Walking Dead and Fables to consoles. Developed by Telltale, these story-focused games did a great job of making what made the comic book special work in an interactive space. Not all comic books are a serious affair though and the HeSaw developed Blue Estate is a game that shows there are many ways to go about a comic-based game.
Based on Viktor Kalvachev’s comic book of the same name, Blue Estate is an on-rails shooter that follows the gang war that ensues after the Mob’s star stripper is abducted by a rival gang. Throughout the game’s seven story missions, players will play as the psychopathic son of the Don, Tony Lucaino, and an ex-Navy Seal named Clarence. There are not any real differences between the characters beside not having to listen to Tony’s unfunny wisecracks during a mission.
Players can choose to control the game either by using the Xbox One’s Kinect or using a standard Xbox One controller. Each control type has its ups and downs with neither being a perfect experience. Players using Kinect will use their right hand to aim at enemies as the game fires the weapon automatically. To reload your gun the player will have to point his gun at the bottom of the screen while switching weapons is done by pointing to the top. It’s a simple set-up that works well, but one that still has a few issues. Periodically throughout a level, the player will be prompted to make a gesture to interact with objects and to grab power-ups. This is done by motioning with your left hand, but the timing is tight enough on these to where it is far too easy to miss the gesture.
When using a controller, the game controls like one would expect a first person shooter to in 2015. Aiming is handled by the right analog stick and although the default sensitivity is a little touchy there is a slight lock-on that helps the player blast through enemies. Gestures are handled by using the left analog stick and are easy to accomplish. Neither control scheme stood out much from each other so it is ultimately up to the player if they want a more unique motion-controlled experience or one that feels like a slightly rough around the edges first person shooter.
Blue Estate is not a particularly long game as each story level lasts around twenty to thirty minutes. The missions can range from infiltrating a private golf course to exploring Chihuahua infested sewers, although one thing stays true throughout the entire game: there will be a lot of shooting. Enemies are often armored so headshots are key if you want to avoid taking damage. A running combo meter encourages skillful play so if you want to top the leaderboards, you’ll want to be accurate with your shooting and shoot as many explosives as you can.
Most levels are capped off with a boss fight and this is one area where Blue Estate really shines. These battles combine fast paced shooting with gestures to create an intense affair that really isn’t matched anywhere else throughout the game. The game’s final battle in particular is an intense affair that has the player constantly avoiding projectiles.
It largely seems that most of the creativity in level design was used up in the boss encounters as the majority of a level is just your standard shooting gallery. It gets slightly repetitive over time, but the game is over before it can really outstay its welcome. After completing the story mode, an arcade mode is unlocked, which features seven short levels that can be replayed repeatedly for high score attempts. This is a nice addition to the game, but one that doesn’t add much value unless you have friends also playing the game. Blue Estate does support local multiplayer which does add some additional value to the package.
One thing that must be mentioned about Blue Estate is that its sense of humor is very crude. If you don’t find slapstick humor and score bonuses for shooting enemies in the nuts to be funny then you might want to skip this title. It does have a few genuinely funny moments scattered throughout, such as a Chihuahua worshipping doomsday cult, but most of the humor largely falls flat. The game features a large amount of voice-work and most of it is very well done, although some of the characters are intentionally designed to be annoying.
Using the Unreal Engine, Blue Estate features a good looking if not spectacular art style. The varied locations are a nice way to keep your attention as there was a lot of art made specifically for each level. Enemy designs are also constantly changing as well and it’s an impressive graphical package overall.
Blue Estate is a good example that any type of comic can successfully be made into a video game. If you’re willing to overlook a few rough edges and some poor attempts at humor, then Blue Estate might be right up your alley. Just let it be known that it is a ride that doesn’t last very long and doesn’t offer much in terms of storytelling.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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