Blue Estate Review: Point and shoot
There are always talks of genres dying out, fading out of popularity. But if there's one genre that is on life support, it's the rail-shooter. Blue Estate aimed to bring that back; the feeling of holding a gun, aiming at your enemies and squeezing the trigger. In that respect, Blue Estate nails it. In other areas... well, that's another story.
As soon as you get to the game's title screen, you know you're in for an unconventional, and most likely crude and crass storyline. To call Blue Estate's story shallow would be giving it way too much credit. From completely un-funny weight jokes to racist comments, our main character, Tony, is as unlikeable as they come. Honestly, if I was just watching the story unfold in a movie, I wouldn't care whether Tony got a bullet straight in his head early on. I had literally no connection to him, and can't imagine many players will either.
Thankfully, the game's main attraction, the shooting, is actually very well done. I was surprised by the fact that the developers opted for no Move support, considering that thing was made for games like these. However, the PS4 controller works wonders as a makeshift lightgun. Using the DualShock 4's built-in accelerometer and gyroscope, the game can clearly read any slight shift in aim, making precise shots quite easy. Since there is no camera to detect where you're aiming, you'll occasionaly have to re-center the aim using the L1 button.
The actual firing of the gun is nearly as satisfying as actually playing with a lightgun. Sure, you're awkwardly aiming and shooting while holding the controller with both hands, rather than using a single hand, but it still feels absolutely satisfying.
Enemies will appear from all sides of the screen, usually giving you ample time to shoot them before they unload their bullets. But the game goes beyond just killing enemies in order to advance. Much like Bulletstorm, the game rewards you for stylish kills. Whether it's shooting an enemy in the groin, or using a piece of the environment, the cooler the kill is, the more points you score. It makes multiple runs through levels worth it, just to see if you're able to improve your score through means you might have missed before.
However, easily the most annoying part of the game's control scheme is the over-reliance on the touchpad, which is mainly used for picking up weapons and items, but also for some other specific actions that can happen during the course of a level. You'll constantly have to swipe it to get Tony's hair out of his face. Why this is a mechanic, I have no clue. Maybe it's somehow related to the Blue Estate comic, but even if that's the case, there is no reason to include that here.
If only there wasn't anything distracting you from having that combo broken...
The swipe controls actually break up what would otherwise be great action sequences. One could argue that picking up items with a simple swipe is at least more accurate than shooting the item, as is the case in nearly every other rail-shooter, but that's the point of rail-shooters... to shoot things!
If you have a high tolerance of extremely inappropriate dialogue, racist comments, and other demeaning lines, then maybe you might have a slightly better time appreciating the sorry excuse for a narrative. For the rest, even though Blue Estate does deliver some satisfying rail-shooter lightgun combat, sans the lightgun, it's bogged down by stupid swipe controls that completely break up the action.