Back at Gamescom I was shown a game prequel adaptation of the comic Blue Estate. It was demonstrated on a very unique device called the Leap Motion, which lets you control the game with nought but hands. Whilst I didn’t get to try out the Leap Motion in this meeting, I received one for testing at just the right moment. The other day I had an accident which meant I had to have emergency surgery on my left arm. In a massive cast and in huge discomfort, I couldn’t really play games – not to begin with at least – but with Leap Motion and Blue Estate, I just needed to use my finger. My finger is the weapon and with it I caused mass destruction – with racist, narcissistic and sexually charged moments along the way.
As discussed in my preview, Blue Estate is a game with its tongue firmly in its cheek. It comes across much like exploitation films of the 80s – it’s brash and rude, but that’s the point. Getting offended at it is like getting offended at Tarantino using racial terms in a film driven by race – it suits the theme, the style and importantly it’s what the comic was. I was given a copy of the first comic volume to get acquainted with at Gamescom and it was both heavily stylised and extremely exploitative. As someone who has watched a lot of cinema, it hasn’t offended me. It’s taken me by surprise, certainly. You don’t play games where the main character calls all the enemies ‘mooks’ and laughs about their heritage along the way. You don’t play games where the very first thing you see on the title screen is the character of Cherry Pops walking away from you in a basque, close up on her barely covered bottom half. Blue Estate is something that pushes the boundaries, but unlike a game like Ride to Hell: Retribution it doesn’t come across as tacky, honestly. Just down to the exploitation context. We can’t have a situation where characters are allowed to exist in one visual medium but not the next.
Blue Estate is essentially a light gun game, but your finger is the weapon. Using the Leap Motion, you wave your finger across the screen and hovering over enemies will automatically shoot. It takes a lot of getting used to. Everything in your mind is telling you ‘This can’t be working, how is this working?’. You also have to get used to some cramp whilst getting your Leap Motion set up in the optimum space. The chair I was sat in meant I could rest my arm and just wave my hand around. That helped a lot, but it’s still not something I’d want to play for hours on end. Which is handy, as this prequel only consists of two levels which will take you around 45 minutes to complete. The learning curve is the main crux of getting in and having a good time. You need to be sure of the quirks with the hardware. You can’t be in a certain position, you can’t be too close or far away from the device. You need all of this sorted and done before you dive in, else you’ll be pausing a lot to make sure the cursor won’t keep disappearing. That’s if you’ve got to the point where the game actually tells you how to pause.
The Leap Motion being a new device and this being – essentially – a launch game, there’s a lot of quirks. Things just don’t work sometimes. A lot of the actions you have to perform are quick flicks in certain directions. These are fine most of the time, but to hide behind cover you must outstretch your hand. This barely works. I found that outstretching it and then getting it closer to the unit helped, but when you’ve got several guys coming after you it’s just wrong to be faffing about trying to make it work. You just have to take the hits. Luckily it is usually just very simplistic – point, game automatically shoots, move onto the next target. Sometimes it just goes a bit fast and you get hit from things you can’t see. I love on rail shooters, so I have no inherent problem with it. However, not having any tactile feedback on pressing a trigger just feels off.
Our main character of Tony Luciano is extremely cocksure, making offbeat comments along the way. Sometimes a hit, sometimes a severe miss. The writing is extremely split between legitimate humour and lines that should’ve been left in a bin never to rear their head again. Tony is fairly well voice acted which is damn good, seeing how he talks -all- the time. So it’s a huge detraction when Cherry Pops comes onto the scene – giving a pole dance, of course – and then opens her mouth. Here’s a reference for you: One level in Hitman 2 has you do some hackery to a computer server. When doing this you get a new voice actress giving you a badly delivered line, prefaced by ‘Diana has just left for a moment.’ Obviously IOI didn’t get the original actress of Diana to record that one line, so had to use someone from the office so they could ship the game. Cherry sounds like that one woman all the time. The combination of flat line delivery and not exactly ‘quality’ dialogue just merges into a mess. Maybe Hesaw were hoping you wouldn’t be listening to her and would instead be staring at her chest that the camera is very much angled for during the cutscene. I like Oscar Worthy dialogue with my breasts, Blue Estate, so you failed there.
A worthy note must go to the boss fight, which features a female caricature of Kim Jong Il. As the boss fight goes on, you hear Korean music much like the scene in Team America and hear facts about the glorious leaders birth. As someone with a weird fascination with North Korea, they gave me huge laughs. Kudos for that and the gags post-boss. I guess it’s a weird mix overall. The game makes me cringe at times, but howl with laughter at other simple moments. I guess it’s like the phrase “You take the rough with the smooth.” The smooth being a mermaid limping around on the floor and the rough being Tony asking a Chinese guard if ‘his ears are crooked too’ because of him not responding.
The game is very rich graphically, running Unreal Engine 3. It also reminds me a lot of Red Steel, thanks to the similar setting and gameplay. Also because some of that team were onboard to develop the title. This is a weird game to try and advise purchases of. Right now you can only get it for the Leap Motion, which means dropping around £70 on a unit and then an extra few pounds on the game. With the rest of the game coming in episodes, you’ll be needing to drop more cash as the plot goes on. However, a console version is in the works for peripherals such as the Playstation Move. That I could see myself playing a lot more. Not because the Leap Motion didn’t work, but just because without a trigger if feels too weird for words.
If you’re like me and you love on rail shooters and practically rue the Earth for not making enough of them this generation, then Blue Estate is going to be a fantastic ride for you. It’s got a fantastic graphical tint and is a perfectly serviceable shooter. However, if you can take or leave rail shooters and don’t want to sit through the rampant misogyny, then stay far away as all you’ll get out of the game is immense distaste.
Blue Estate isn’t the only thing available for the Leap Motion though! Come back on Monday for our in-depth hardware review and find out if you should take the [snicker] Leap.