Platform: Xbox One (reviewed), Xbox 360, PS4, PS3.
Released: June 2014
Based on a comic book that no one I know has heard anything about, Blue Estate has very little to do with either the colour blue, or the socio-economic struggles of the housing market. I would say it’s about mafia boss Don Luciano’s prized horse, the titular “Blue Estate”, and the Pulp Fiction-esque kerfuffle that ensues in trying to rescue it, but really, Blue Estate has very little to do with anything other than daft, over the top madness.
That’s not to say there isn’t a plot as there is, and it’s silly, but essentially, as with most on-rails shooters, the plot simply exists as a crutch to guide the player from one encounter to the next, whether that be a Korean nightclub, the warehouse of a fast food establishment or a golf course populated by Eastern European goons using grenades as balls.
You see, Blue Estate realises that the concept of an on-rails shooter is absurd. Why would there be 400 armed goons guarding one nightclub? But, they use the medium as a platform to poke fun. Through the storytelling of lazy detective and Jonah Hill lookalike Roy Devine Jnr, we follow Tony Luciano, egotistical and psychopathic son of Don Luciano, and Clarence, ex-Navy SEAL looking for a means to provide for his family, and what follows is a sequence of events and gameplay that can only be described as “silly”.
Under the watchful eye of some kind of fourth wall breaking Federal Bureau of Procrastination who keep interrupting Roy when he starts to ramble or get his facts wrong, you find yourself massacring most of the LA population because why not?! This isn’t a game designed to be taken seriously, and it has to be seen to be believed. Before long, it has become less of a game and more of a hallucinatory experience, which can be as appealing to some as it is appalling to others.
In between these bouts of insanity, there is a game to be played. The mechanics are solid, and there’s a generous auto aim which allows for quicker kills and longer combos. In between that are “gestures”, mini quick time events that involve flicking the left stick in various directions, which could be anything from wiping mud/water/hair away from your eyes, to punting a Chihuahua that’s humping your leg…
The ludicrousness of the story and the gameplay certainly go hand in hand, and whilst the initial run-through of the game was fun, you’re struggling for anything more beyond that. If it wasn’t for the humour and general atmosphere of this game, you’d have seen all the tricks this game has within the first five minutes. Sure, you might get a new weapon each level, but the gameplay remains the same: a glorified shooting gallery. The trouble with a console version of an on-rails shooter is that the novelty wears off when you don’t have a plastic replica gun to aim with.
There are no new enemy types beyond the first two levels, apart from the addition of bullet-proof armour, and even though there are three boss fights, they hardly plumb the depths of innovation and originality and they are easily the weakest part of the entire game. There will be no Lifetime Achievement Award for Services to Fighting Bosses in Blue Estate’s future, that’s for sure.
There is enough content here to sustain those who genuinely enjoy the game, with an unlockable difficulty level, Arcade and co-op mode available, but they just serve to highlight how bare bones the gameplay truly is. The Arcade mode is devoid of the story mode’s comedy, which makes the whole experience seem soulless by comparison.
Ultimately, enjoyment will come from your taste in humour, so I’ve come up with a little review score system: If you enjoy bizarre, fourth wall breaking humour, or you like games like Time Crisis or House of the Dead, then feel free to add a star to the rating, as you’ll probably find some enjoyment in this game. For everyone else, keep the current rating, and keep your money too. This won’t be for you.