Blue Estate The Game
There was a time when light gun games were amongst the biggest attractions at arcades as they offered an experience that was almost impossible to replicate on consoles. This changed when consoles caught up in terms of graphical prowess and light gun hardware, but those days are long over. First person shooters that provide players with full freedom of movement now rule the roost and on-rails shooters are seen as relics of the past. However, this hasn’t deterred HE SAW from releasing Blue Estate; an on-rails shooter based on the graphic novel by Viktor Kalvachev.
Unfortunately, we are not familiar with the comic series, but if it is anything like the game we doubt that we are missing much in terms of plot development. Blue Estate opens with Tony Luciano, the son of an Italian mafia godfather, discovering that his favorite stripper has been kidnapped. The culprits appear to be the Sik Brother’s gang, so without further ado, Tony marches over to the Twin Dragon club to get her back. Seeing as Tony is a bit of a psychopath, this obviously ends in a lot of blood and bullets flying around. The aftermath of this event leads to the introduction of the second playable character in the game, an ex-Navy SEAL named Clarence. He’s not quite as insane as Tony, but seeing as he works as a hit-man to make ends meet, it becomes his job to clean up the mess. However, Tony’s father is more interested in getting back his prized horse that was stolen in retaliation and it’s not long before Europeans and Jamaicans become involved as well. As if things were not already convoluted enough, the whole thing is narrated by Roy, a private investigator who doesn’t actually have anything to do with anything. Then there’s the Federal Bureau of Procrastination that also frequently crops up to “clarify” things. All of it is ridiculously over the top and the game rightfully warns you before it starts that everyone in the game are terrible people and all of them should probably be arrested.
On-rails shooters are not exactly known for their depth and Blue Estate is no exception. The game features a story mode, which is seven missions that consists of plenty of action along with absurd situations, such as dodging grenades being lobbed at you on a golf range, sliding down a hill in Jamaica before being swept along a river, and chasing a horse through a misty graveyard. Completing the story missions also unlocks additional levels for the “Arcade” mode, which removes all story elements and offers a pure action experience.
Although there are only seven story missions, they are all quite lengthy and offer plenty of variety. The game offers three difficulty levels, but the highest one only becomes accessible after completing the story on one of the other two.
Unfortunately, your path through each level is completely linear, so you never get to make any choices like in other on-rails shooters. The story mode also only offers three boss fights, instead of one at the end of each level. This is a real pity as the boss fights are actually quite memorable. Overall, the story mode is quite short and ends rather abruptly, but this is something that is quite common for the genre. The game does feature plenty of Steam Achievements, which makes it worthwhile replaying the missions and each level also has hidden collectibles for you to spot and shoot. Alas, the only purpose for doing so is the associated achievement, as they don’t actually unlock anything, which is a bit of a missed opportunity. Seeing as the game is based on a comic license, I would have expected more in terms of unlockables.
After completing the story mode, we spent another couple of hours with arcade mode and cleared out all seven levels on all three of the difficulty settings. Arcade mode changes the dynamic of the game somewhat as it is pure action without any of the filler. In fact, the game fast forwards past any sections that doesn’t involve shooting when playing arcade mode, which means it is all action all of the time. Unlike the story mode where you pick up new weapons at regular intervals, arcade mode rewards you with them based on the amount of kills you pull off in a row. You also have a timer that is constantly counting down, so you need to kill enemies as quickly and efficiently as possible to keep it ticking. Both modes feature a slow motion feature, but in story mode, it is a power-up that has to be shot to activate it while in arcade mode, it is a bar that recharges through head shots and you can activate it at any point when it is full.
Seeing as Blue Estate is an on-rails shooter, the controls aren’t exactly complicated. Kudos to the developers for supporting a variety of controller options, including keyboard/mouse, Xbox One and Xbox 360 controllers, as well as the Leap Motion controller. The game can even be played with a real light-gun, if you have one, although support for this peripheral is unofficial. The game can even be played in cooperative mode, although this is local only and not online. It’s not all just shooting and reloading either as the game also throws a couple of quick time events your way. These range from performing melee attacks on charging enemies to kicking chihuahuas trying to hump your leg, and even brushing your hair out of your face, I kid you not. Swipes are also required for actions such as picking up health or ammo pick-ups, or dodging boss attacks. In addition, there are short “mini-game” sections during levels where you have to shoot certain enemies in the correct order or complete “whack-a-mole” style enemies popping up from behind cover.
Blue Estate runs on the Unreal Engine, so it is not a bad looking game. The environments are all detailed and colorful while the character animations are quite decent. The game does feature plenty of scantily clad women, but even this element is rather tame by today’s standards. It has to be said that Blue Estate is not a game for the easily offended as it is not just violent, but also mercilessly parodies a lot of stereotypes. Some people will find the humor hilarious, while others will find it quite juvenile. The soundtrack isn’t bad and matches the onscreen antics perfectly. Most levels feature a mixture of rock and electronic tracks, while the sound effects sound like you would expect from an over the top arcade game. Blue Estate has a lot of voice lines from all of the characters, although the highlight has to be the interaction between Clarence and the two incompetent mob goons trying to assist him over his ear-piece.
One thing is for sure, Blue Estate is not going to be a game that will appeal to everyone. Not only is it part of a genre that many players see as hopelessly outdated, but it is also based on an obscure license and contains plenty of elements that are not politically correct at all. We didn’t have very high expectations for the game, but ended up having a blast with it as it provided a nice mindless escape from more demanding titles. It is certainly not without its flaws and because it contains so many questionable elements, it is not a title that we would recommend to everyone. However, if you are a fan of the genre and have a twisted sense of humor, then there are worse ways to waste your time than Blue Estate. Fans of the comic series might also appreciate the offbeat characters and humor a lot more.
- OS: Windows Vista
- Processor: Dual Core 2.0GHz or equivalent
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Graphics: ATI or NVidia card w/ 512 MB RAM (not recommended for Intel HD Graphics cards)
- DirectX: Version 9.0
- Storage: 3 GB available space
- OS: Windows 7, 8 or 8.1
- Processor: Dual Core 3.0GHz or equivalent
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Graphics: ATI or NVidia card w/ 1024 MB RAM (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 or ATI HD 4890)
- DirectX: Version 9.0
- Storage: 3 GB available space