Remember the days of Time Crisis on the PS1? Using the Guncon, playing on-rails shooters, just like you did in the arcade, but in your own home? Well those games sort of dried up over the last few years, with only half-hearted Kinect games attempting to bring them back, to varying degrees of success.
Step forward Viktor Kalvachev’s Blue Estate, a game based on the comic of the same name, which is a pure lightgun on-rails styled shooter. Arriving on PS4 a little below the radar which left us a little skeptical of what to expect.
The first issue is how a lightgun game could work using just the controller, not having any move support, nor needed any kind of camera. Within minutes of starting any fears we had were alleviated, thanks to an excellent use of the accelerometers in the Dual Shock 4.
There is no complicated setup needed, just hold the controller naturally, tap the L1 button and it will center the reticule on the screen. You then move the controller to aim around the screen and then hit the R2 trigger to shoot, using L2 to cover and reload. Basically if you have ever played a lightgun game before, then you should feel right at home.
What you may notice it that at times your point of center may move, simply because we aren’t all robots who sit perfectly still and whilst we originally thought this may be an issue, all it takes is a quick tap of L1 at any point to re-center your aim. This very quickly becomes second nature, pretty much resetting the center point with every reload or when taking cover. Simply put, the control mechanism works wonderfully.
It’s not just the shooting mechanics that form the base for the game, as it makes use of the the Dual Shock 4 touchpad, using gesture swipes to open doors, collect health, ammo, perform melee actions, etc. On the whole this works well, but at times it can get a bit clumsy, especially being rushed by an enemy and need to swipe instantly. It’s not something that will ruin your game, but it just removes from the fluidity of the shooting somewhat.
Getting an on-rails shooter to work and be enjoyable isn’t easy, anyone who played the recent Rambo game will know just how awful they can be. It isn’t very often you’ll get something of the quality as Time Crisis, or House of the Dead, but Blue Estate manages to do just that.
The action is constant and more than enjoyable, with a really decent challenge to it. The tutorial level itself if fast paced and doesn’t take things too easy on you and playing in co-op only ramps up the action even further. Another thing that adds to the enjoyment is the humour, which whilst being sexist, juvenile and at time insulting, it fits well and makes sense in the world the game is set.
There are bosses to take on, that once again offer up a solid challenge and feel like proper bosses which need some degree of strategy to beat, even early bosses are difficult, but that doesn’t matter, because you will have a blast playing through levels, which you will want to do more than once.
There are leaderboards and a score mechanic, which rewards you for different types of kills, similar to how Bulletstorm worked, but with less variation. The game will introduce new ways to kill enemies as the game progresses, such as shooting the stereotypical explosives that are dotted around for no reason whatsoever.
Blue Estate isn’t a long game and despite the leaderboards, it is unlikely to be one you’ll revisit time and time again. However, it is genuinely fun to play and in the short time you spend with it, you’ll get a great deal of enjoyment. If you have any interest in lightgun style games, then pick this up.