Review: Spec Ops: The Line
Review: Deadlight

Review: Wreckateer

by July 24, 2012

The thing that separates a good Kinect game from a bad one is how much it asks the device to do. Wreckateer hits the sweet spot by focusing on what the Kinect does well and then builds the experience around that dynamic.

In Wreckateer, you’re tasked with clearing out infestations in castles. Instead of rats or roaches you’re dealing with goblins. They’ve nested in multiple castles throughout the land and the only way to evict the rascals is to flatten the property completely. You accomplish this by using the game’s weapon of choice, the ballista, which uses projectiles that cause destruction in various ways.

Archeologists think that goblins evolved into this red shade and then entered show business.

You have to be in a mood for destruction because the goblins are not ready to vacate. They act brainless enough, but do you remember the “Whammy” from Press Your Luck? For those not well versed on daytime game shows, a Whammy was a red goblin-like creature that would show up and tick you off while taking your money. Well, Wreckateer’s goblins must have been huge fans because they are going to annoy you to no end. Fortunately, there is a very satisfying way to take care of those rent-evading pests. Aim for their heads!

Targeting the goblins has two rewards:

  • It’s a good feeling to knock down a tower with a goblin in it, even better feeling hitting a goblin straight away.
  • You get a bonus for every part of a castle you knock down that has a goblin in it.

How do you hit them? Well that is where the ballista and your Kinect come in handy.

You’ll need to pull back fully to hit the back row.

The ballista works like a slingshot. You step forward and put your hands together in front of you to “grab” the band and then you step backwards. The farther you back up the stronger your shot will be. Once you’re happy with the power of the shot, you side-step left or right to aim. Lastly you can move your hands up or down to aim along the vertical axis.

Notice that everything listed above are things that Kinect does well. Those are the core controls for the game and they are easy for Kinect to work with. The Kinect controls don’t stop there though.

Along with the ballista, the projectiles are also motion controlled. There are various forms of ammunition and they all have different properties. They range from basic projectiles to ones that have special abilities like flying, exploding, or bouncing.

There is winged ammo that flies like a normal projectile until you activate it’s power. Raising your arms makes a set of wings appear which you control by steering it with your arms until it reaches your desired destination. Another type produces a lift each time you activate it (limit 3), enabling shots to be boosted over towers and walls or to hit objects farther back on the playing field.

If you get goblins in your castle prepare to knock it down.

While there are multiple types of ammunition that perform specific actions, that doesn’t mean ordinary projectiles are useless. As you play the game you’ll be rewarded with a pair of gloves that will let you guide all of your shots. If you want the shot to go left, you take your right arm and wave across the ammo to make it curve. If you think you aimed too high take both hands and wave it down.

Like the ballista controls the Kinect controls here are great. They play to Kinect’s strengths and Wreckateer is better because of it.

Who doesn’t love pretending they’re an airplane with their arms out to the side? I still do it today and I’ll be doing it when I’m 90. Granted, that’s going to get me extra medication when I’m in the nursing home, but it’s fun.  Who hasn’t thrown something off course and impulsively tried to redirect it by waving their hands? The gestures the game asks you to do are natural things we’ve all done. I can see people of all ages having fun with these motions.

All the tools are there, it’s up to you to find the perfect mixture for destruction.

The last part of gameplay is using objects planted in the various levels to cause the most destruction. For instance, there are certain emblems that float across the field, and if you send your projectile through one it gives it an unique quality. The emblems do everything from make your ammo shoot off like a rocket to explosive properties activated on impact. You’ll also find a goblin who has learned to pilot a hot air balloon, which enhances your shot. In certain sections, you’ll even find stacks of dynamite that explode the second anything comes in contact with them. There are tons of ways to cause chaos in Wreckateer. All the tools are there, it’s up to you to find the perfect mixture for destruction.

Levels are broken up into various areas spread across a world map, with multiple stages present within each location. More difficult finale missions mark the end of each level. The game requires you to get a bronze medal or better to move on. Earning medals is achieved by getting a particular score on a level. You are awarded points for how well you demolish castles, which may include extra points from scoring bonuses earned through special actions. Banking a shot off the ground, hitting a goblin directly before hitting the castle, or taking out a house in the kingdom are just a few ways to earn bonuses in the game.

That’s gonna hurt the resale value.

After each shot your score is tallied, which raises the overall multiplier. Each shot continues to be multiplied by the current multiplier to a maximum of 5. If you plan on getting a gold or better, especially in the latter levels, you’ll need to learn how to get your multiplier higher with each shot.The sound in the game is done very well. Explosions have a nice punch to them and the various companions you meet on your journey are voiced well. Music in the game is your usual medieval RPG fare and it fits, never becoming tiresome to hear.

Wreckateer is also the debut for Avatar Famestar. For those not familiar with Avatar Famestar, it’s a program developed by Microsoft Studios to help integrate challenges into certain games. You can earn rewards for either a specific game or the Avatar Famestar program overall. In Wreckateer, there are certain objectives to complete and if you do, you will be awarded avatar gear thematically designed around the game. Avatar Famestar progress will be saved with each game you play. As you play more Avatar Famestar games and complete their challenges you will accumulate enough points to get better avatar gear. It’s a nice way for games to reward users outside of it’s standard achievements. Unlike achievements that fuel your gamer score, Famestar rewards are something everyone can see displayed on your avatar, adding a unique touch overall to your profile.

Why it may be helpful for people with anxiety

  • Cheery atmosphere
  • Great controls, even with numb/cold hands they’re able to be performed with ease
  • Gets you thinking how you’re going to knock down the targets and takes your mind off other things

Why it may be unhelpful for people with anxiety

  • You need a good 8x 6 foot play area so some may need to move items, if you’re anxious already maybe that’s not a good option

Why you should be playing this

I can’t stress this enough, Wreckateer is so good because it focuses on the Kinect’s strengths. I’m sure a lot of people saw Wreckateer being a Kinect game and swore it off on premise alone, but I promise, Wreckateer is worth everyone’s time.

Wreckateer joins a list of great Kinect games that can only be around because of Kinect. They didn’t try to make Wreckateer do things outside of the Kinect’s abilities and in doing so they created something unique and fun.

Figuring out how to knock down towers and castles takes some thinking, and working on high scores takes a lot of skill. This isn’t a “wave your arms and win” game.To be good at it takes skill, and Wreckateer’s control allows you to play with it.

Wreckateer is the new benchmark for Kinect.

This review was based on the Xbox 360 version that was provided by the publisher.

Release Date

July 25, 2012

Digital or Retail



XBOX 360


Iron Galaxy Studios


Microsoft Game Studios


Great controls, fantastic use of Kinect, addictive "one more level" gameplay


Need a lot of room to play

All the tools are there, it’s up to you to find the perfect mixture for destruction.

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Jason Moquin
Oh this is where I get to say something about myself like I was captain of the debate team or that I was once king of Prussia. Well games, let's throw games in there, and I like sports, and comics, and animated things, mostly Japanese giant robots, oh and pasta, big fan of pasta. You know all shapes taste different? Each one has a distinctive bite and holds the sauce differently. A lot of people are like "PASTA IS PASTA" and I say "STOP YELLING AT ME".

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