By: Jeff Cater
If you ever stood in front of an arcade machine that had a light gun attached to it, you know how much fun those games can be. CRO MAGNON remembers as well, and they have brought forth a game as tribute to those hulking cabinets of wonder with Blue Estate. As Tony Luciano, the son of a feared mob boss in Los Angeles, you are set on quest to reclaim a horse that was stolen from your family.
While the idea of using the Dualshock 4’s built-in axis system to use the controller as an aiming device sounds awesome (because it is awesome), it only can be as good as its implementation. Unfortunately, the aiming in Blue Estate feels a tad lagged, and your crosshair has a tendency to straight up disappear, requiring the use of the in-game controller calibration button.
Even having a feature on the controller that fixes the controls feels like the developer’s got a little bit lazy with the project; why not fix the controls for good instead of making the player do it? They did a fine job putting the touch pad to use, as you’ll have to constantly slam doors in people’s faces and brush your hair out of your eyes, but it never really serves a purpose.
Even though the characters are all extremely stereotypical in every way, animations are lively and fun to watch as long as they’re one of the more central characters. That being said, the hordes of enemies charging at you are the same generic henchman that were charging at you in the preceding segment. The scenery is pretty fun to look at; you’ll (automatically) navigate through dreary restaurants, strip clubs, gang lairs and sometimes a mix of the three.
It’s hard to grade the sound here as the voice work is well performed but so full of stereotypes and profanity that it becomes difficult to put up with. Tony sounds like a punk, and the other “playable” character just sounds unrelentingly bored. The soundtrack is pretty good, as it matches the pace and frantic moments of gun fighting, but it is by no means a glorious score or epic; it’s above serviceable.
Although the game sticks to its intention by accurately portraying the stand-up arcade days, it doesn’t really fill a void as much as it creates one. As Tony or Clarence, you have to bust several caps in several people in order to rescue the prized “Blue Estate” horse from the clutches of an opposing mob.
Tony always seems like he has been railing coke for the last few weeks, speaking quickly, rudely and constantly. Clarence, on the other hand, just seems tired of the whole situation, but with a friend as racist, sexist and unbearable as Tony it is pretty fitting actually.
So, it’s guns-a-blazing while tied to a predetermined course as most on-rails shooters are. Having to recalibrate the controls every scene can and will sap any sort of immersion and fun out the experience, which really sucks because when the controls actually work as intended the game approaches “fun” territory.
Add lengthy levels and uninspired enemy design to the formula and you have an experience that draws itself out far too long with too little change to justify the time spent.
Blue Estate could have been a lot better had the controls received as much attention and care as the racism and “attitude” of the cast, but what we are left with is a game that will be passed on by anyone who isn’t familiar with the source material.