You might have heard of Blue Estate. It's an extremely witless and puerile on-rails first-person shooter that was originally released for the PlayStation 4 last summer, where it was mocked by critics and fans alike. Perhaps, a brand new Xbox One version will correct the faults that the original release made? Not at all! If anything, this new version of Blue Estate is even worse thanks to maddening Kinect controls. At its core, Blue Estate is a reasonable on-rails shooter, but you have to put up with a load of nonsense in order to get any enjoyment out of it. There is a solid game here but it feels like it's on the wrong console.
The story in Blue Estate has its roots in a comic series created by some bloke called Viktor Kalvachev. I doubt that I'm alone in saying that I haven't heard of this series, never mind actually reading the comic. But after playing the game, I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole.
I am not going to waste your time by talking about the intricate storyline that involves mongoloids firing their guns at each other, for whatever reason. Instead, I am going to focus more on the game's overall approach to storytelling and writing. Blue Estate tries to play the funny card. As you probably know, videogame humour is very difficult to pull off and it's a risky thing to shoot for, as most "funny" games end up with egg on their face. Blue Estate is no different. In fact, the game doesn't just have egg on its face, it has the entire English breakfast on its face.
Blue Estate is gut-wrenchingly unfunny. Do you find fat people funny? Do you find racism funny? Do you find pointless references to popular culture funny? If you answered yes to any of those questions then you need to buy Blue Estate immediately, because you will love it. For the rest of us though, the game's rotten sense of humour hurts the overall product.
It's a shame, because the core gameplay offered here is competent, yet somewhat unremarkable. It's a standard rail shooter, taking cues from classic arcade games like Time Crisis and Virtua Cop. What this means is that the game controls all of your character movement for you, leaving you to focus on blasting away the enemies before they blast you. Shooting is quite satisfying and works as you would expect, with you earning extra points for headshot and nutshot kills, of course.
Like all on-rails shooters, the gameplay is certainly repetitive but the developers did a commendable job by keeping the game feeling somewhat fresh from level-to-level. All of the missions have a unique environment associated with them. Whether you are shooting away thugs in a cemetery or dodging grenades at a golf course, you're never quite sure where the game is going to take you next. Blue Estate also does a good job of introducing progressively tougher foes, all of which you have probably encountered in similar games. Guys that run at you with melee weapons, guys that throw explosives, guys that wear heavy armour; standard stuff. There's also a good array of weapons, which you will find during certain parts of the levels, though, these all have limited ammo.
So Blue Estate sounds like it plays pretty well, so what's the problem? For me, these types of games really should be played with an actual gun peripheral. That's kind of the point of these games, it gives us an excuse to wield these plastic but still cool guns to kill people on our televisions. But the Xbox One doesn't have a peripheral that facilitates that style of play, so instead, you either have to play with Kinect or a regular controller. Playing with Kinect is just silly. It's bad enough that the Kinect is fiddly and doesn't work very well on its own, but it just doesn't work well for shooting games. When playing Blue Estate with Kinect, you basically sit back, waving your left arm around, trying to place twitchy crosshair on enemies and once you do, the game automatically starts shooting for you. It's just a stupid way of playing the game.
Playing with a controller is much easier and works surprisingly well, given the loose and inaccurate nature of the analogue sticks. However, playing a game with a regular gamepad just feels wrong. There isn't much that the developers at Hesaw could have done about the situation but nevertheless, Blue Estate just feels unnecessary on the Xbox One. I have only played the trial version of the PlayStation 4 version, but from what I have played, I much prefer playing that version, as the game using the gyroscope technology within the DualShock 4 to good effect and it feels more accurate to the lightgun game experience.
Playing through Blue Estate won't take very long. There are only 7 story missions, all of which will take you around 20 minutes to play through. As you finish these levels though, you will unlock arcade levels, which are bite-size versions of the levels that are packed with enemies and don't have any story interludes that slow things down. In the arcade levels, it's more to do with getting a high-score rather than just surviving the level.
Unlike the story mode, there is no health to worry about here, but instead you are trying to progress through a predetermined list of weapons. Sounds a bit weird, but imagine it being like the "Gun Game" mode featured in first-person shooters like Call of Duty: Black Ops or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. You start off with your standard pistol, but after capping a certain amount of enemies, you then move onto a submachine gun, where you do the same thing again to move on to the next weapon. Since you have no health, the game punishes you if you get shot by reseting your kill counter, meaning it will take you longer to reach the better guns. Arcade mode is actually the best part of the game, as it's just non-stop action and the idea of quickly killing enemies in order to get better weapons is a good one. There are only 6 arcade missions though, so there's not much to look forward to.
Blue Estate has potential. I can see that there is a good on-rails shooter in there that fans of the genre should get a kick out of. I have always been rather fond of this type of game myself and I want to give Blue Estate a fair shot because we haven't had a particularly good shooter like this in a long time. However, Blue Estate is swamped with a dreadful story, inappropriate controls and an overall dated look, that doesn't make good use of the Xbox One's hardware. Blue Estate is not a particularly bad game, it's just a needless one that has put all of its eggs into the wrong basket.
TWO OUT OF FIVE
(A bad game with an abundance of flaws which outweigh its positive aspects)