Blue Estate is a fun and exciting story and developer HeSaw has done an amazing job of crafting the artistic style found in the comic book pages created by Viktor Kalvachev and Kosta Yanev. This rail shooter is one heck of a ride and well worth playing.
Blue Estate is a story about Tony Luciano and a hitman known only as Clarence. These two characters’ stories are interweaved and told just like a Quentin Tarantino film. Starting at the end of the story, we find a stripper named Cherry Popz who is seeking help from Roy Devine Jr. Devine is a private detective and Cherry needs his help finding someone. Cherry’s boyfriend, Tony Luciano, has gone missing. Now the story begins.
Tony is the son of the most famous cartel boss in Los Angles, Don Luciano. Tony is a stereotypical Italian mobster, from his expensive leather shoes to his greased back pompadour hair style. He is also a trouble maker with an itchy trigger finger. Tony shoots first and then shoots second.
He doesn’t ask too many questions as he is leaving bullet holes in everything. So naturally Tony gets into some trouble once he has heard the Sik Brothers have kidnapped his girlfriend, Cherry. Tony is determined to find Cherry and nothing will stop him until he does. Well almost nothing will stop him.
After Tony finds out the Sik Brothers kidnapped Cherry he busts into the club and causes a lot of death and mayhem. All this trouble draws the attention of Tony’s father, the Don, and The Don is none too happy. Tony needs to lay low and decides to head to Puerto Rico. This is when the Don hires a hitman, Clarence, to find Tony and bring him back to Los Angles.
Clarence is a great character. He keeps getting sucked back into mob work because he is broke and would rather kill people than work retail. He’s a straight shooter too, pardon the pun, who doesn’t talk as much as Tony. He relies on his handler to help him get the edge on incoming enemies, but his regular handler has gone missing and the new ones are a couple of knuckleheads. The dialogue between Clarence and this pair of goofs leads to a lot of laughs during the game.
Throughout the game both characters will be tasked with clearing out an area of bad guys. Most times HeSaw gives a few options as to how to best do this too. Besides just pointing and shooting, there are objects to collect such as ammo and life bonuses, but there are also quick time events that require a sequence of movements. This was a nice element to add to gameplay to break up the otherwise monotonous tasks of aim here, fire, then repeat the cycle.
For instance as Tony does battle, his hair will fall into his face, and when this happens the player is prompted with a quick time event (QTE). By performing this QTE quickly, the players are award bonus points (reminds of the active reloads in Gears of War -ed). This is a nice change of pace in the gameplay and makes for some pretty funny incidents during the game. During intense gun fights some levels will have prompts to jump behind cover or throw back a grenade. This was a nice addition by HeSaw to make complete use of the controller. Though I should say that the controls in Blue Estate will definitely take some practice to master.
That’s to say that the controls come with a little bit of a learning curve and the actual controller cannot be modified except for inverting the Y axis. While most shooter games have the aim connected to the left thumb stick, in Blue Estate, it is assigned to the right stick. Left-handed people shall rejoice in cheer, but for the majority of users this will take a little bit of practice to master. The left thumb stick will be for gestures during the game, such as kicking away a Chihuahua as it humps away at Clarence’s leg. Blue Estate also incorporated the use of the Kinect into gameplay and players can choose to either play as a human controller or use a plastic one.
Once the learning curve is gone, gunplay with a controller is tight and responsive. I found using the Kinect to be a lot less forgiving though, and harder to aim correctly.
Tony and Clarence start each level with a handgun with unlimited ammo, but there are several different types of guns to acquire during the levels. A new weapon is always more powerful than the handguns, although they have limited ammo stock, so aim carefully. The level designs are fun and the graphics look great on the Xbox One. And once the story is done HeSaw has added a new feature to extend gameplay as well.
An Xbox One exclusive, the Arcade Mode is unlocked after defeating all the levels. In Arcade Mode, all the cutscenes and QTEs are disabled and players will be tasked with getting the highest score possible. This is achieved by different factors. From headshots to nut shots, shoot as many people and things as possible to rack up the combo counter and score massive points. Players will even earn better weapons with each headshot, which is a nice bonus for those skilled enough to land tough shots. There is also a timer so speed running through the levels adds another layer of competition. This is a nice addition and can extend gameplay as players compete to be the top of the leaderboards.
Blue Estate is a well-crafted game with a slight learning curve. The story is really fun and written well, and had me laughing throughout the adventure. The voice acting is superb too, and the characters are interesting.
This is just the prequel to the story of Blue Estate and I’m seriously hooked. I want to know what happens next. HeSaw has done an amazing job of lifting the artistic style captured in the comics by Kalvachev and transforming it into an interactive video game.
One caveat here – I ask that you take my review with a grain of salt. This title is the equivalent of a popcorn blockbuster. There is not a ton of depth to this game or the story, but it is still a fun adventure. Though without the misogyny and fart jokes, it probably could not exist. The characters are bad people doing bad things, but that doesn’t mean it is a bad game.
Just like the disclaimer states in the beginning of this campaign, this is clearly a game and anyone who resembles the characters should be thrown in jail. This is not a game for the morally high standards, this is a game about two guys blowing stuff up. And let me tell you, it is one hell of an explosion.