Bring a light gun, or don’t come
Blue Estate attempts to bring back that amazing ’90s arcade shooter feel, when rock bands could save the world from evil corporations, and Sega was the king of the buddy cop cabinet genre.
If you don’t have a light gun for your PC, you can go ahead and skip this one entirely.
Blue Estate (PC [reviewed], PS4, Xbox One)
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Released: April 8, 2015 (PC)
It’s important to note right off the bat that if you’re easily offended, you probably won’t have a good time with Blue Estate. It’s based on the comic by artists Viktor Kalvachev and Kosta Yanev. It litters its narrative with scantily clad women, racial stereotypes, insensitive dialog, and even fat jokes. Personally I kind of glossed over all of it, but the bad news is that even if offensive jokes are your thing, none of it is particularly clever or funny. The game goes out of its way to note that pretty much every character, “especially” the protagonist Tony Luciano is a “scumbag,” but they’re not memorable scumbags, I’ll tell you that much.
In fact, the entire tale is one big bore-fest, as it’s a one-note revenge-fest that kicks off with Tony getting his woman back and taking down anyone who gets in his way, and ends up with some dude named Clarence. It’s kind of like a less intentionally funny House of the Dead Overkill, and instead of endearing camp, we get more scenes that are loud, brash, and forgettable. Those of you who follow the comic will likely get a lot of the in-jokes, but since a good deal of them are predicated on prior knowledge of the source material, they often fall flat.
Each stage in the three-to-four hour shoot-fest is serviceable, but the feeling of sameness will start to creep in after the first few offerings. All of the enemies look and act identically, and although there are some hidden objects scattered about, there’s no cool “split path” gimmick to make things interesting. QTEs, including melee attacks aren’t enough to elevate it beyond what’s typically found in your average light gun affair, nor are the scant three bosses littered across the entire story.
On PC I had the opportunity to test out the game using a mouse, a Leap Motion peripheral, an Xbox One gamepad, and a light gun. Although all of the control schemes work well, I’d recommend using the latter option if it’s available, as it makes everything a lot more enjoyable. Aiming is very smooth, and since the only other mechanics are ducking for cover, switching weapons, and movement-sensitive QTEs, there’s no latent control issues to worry about.
Any sort of nuance to shooting is rudimentary, with a light combo system for killing people quickly, and a head shot bonus. That’s about it. While the levels themselves don’t stand out on their own, it’s still a joy to be aiming at the ground to reload, duck behind cover, and shoot a screen in 2015. Call it nostalgia, but it’s even better with a local co-op partner. You won’t get much mileage when the story is said and done though, since the only other mode available is a single-stage arcade setting.
For those of you who don’t have a motion option on PC, Blue Estate is one shooter you can absolutely pass on. One day it may catch your eye on a dirt cheap Steam sale, and a light gun may come across your desk — at that point, you may as well give it a shot.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]