This one was a dust collector for me before I ever played it as I purchased for it next to nothing, but I did get around to it while waiting for some newer games to arrive. It’s been out for a long time but just in case you haven’t heard anything about it or was never interested, here’s the short summary:

Your new job description: dealing with the most dangerous situations on Earth. Join Blackwater, the paramilitary organization that’s played a role in major conflicts around the world, in this motion-based military shooter. Work as four different Blackwater operatives as you use lethal force in critical situations. Use over 25 motion-based tactics to shoot, dodge bullets, toss grenades, smash down doors, and generally make life miserable for anyone who gets in the way of your objective. Load up with real military gear from military equipment suppliers like Colt, Mossberg, Blaser, Spetnaz, and Sig Sauer. Controller-based play is available for players who prefer a more traditional shooter experience.

Overview

Of course I wasn’t expecting this to be similar to any first-person shooter, but what I did find it very similar to was the good ole’ sega Virtua Cop. The only difference is there is no gun accessory and you can move around in cover, which in my opinion, both negate each other. It would have been a lot better with a gun accessory, but it would have been worse if you couldn’t crouch in cover.

The Menu

The menu is pretty simple, it consists of Campaign, Quick Play, Competition Maps, Stats and Options. The menu is controlled via the standard hover and lock method.

Campaign

Campaign is the normal story mode. Now, as long as you don’t compare this to the Call of Duty or Battlefield series, you won’t expect much then. The story is very generic, the dialog is very generic, the voice acting is average. The graphics are average, sometimes below, but it is what it is. There are only 6 missions, but they are broken up in “combat arenas”. Some of the missions take a little bit to get through. The one downfall that is quite annoying is there are no saved checkpoints until you complete the combat arena you are in. You could get to the end and end up dying and you have to restart the whole combat arena, it does get a little frustrating.

There is an experience system in place as you gain points on killing guys depending on what type they are, for example, militia are worth 10, commando’s are worth 20. You also get extra XP by performing head shots. The aiming system is kind of automatic because as soon as you get to the general area, it adjusts on where it thinks you want to shoot them, so it is possible to get a lot of head shots. You do play the role of 4 different types of characters, they all looked similar to me, but anyhow, one is a main assault guy with a regular rifle which shoots 3 rounds at a time, Baird. The next is a shotgun/close quarters guy, Smash. The third is Eddi, who is a sniper and lastly you have Devon, who’s basically your light machine gunner except there’s no full automatic. That was one of my other pet peeves so to speak, is that you couldn’t adjust the rate of fire.

There are 3 difficulty levels in the game; easy, normal and hard. The only difference that I noticed between all 3 is that the higher level you go, the more bullets it takes to kill them and the less bullets it takes to kill you. There is also an upgrade system to your characters as well. Every odd level you obtain, such as 3, 5, 7, etc. unlocks a perk we’ll call it. Although the good ones aren’t until the 30′s and above, it’s just really hard to play this game that much to level up that high.

There are also 4 types of collectibles throughout the game and to be honest, they are a pain to find all of them. The problem is that there are multiple paths to choose to complete a mission. Sometimes they are highlighted but more often than not, you have to purposely miss quick time events, such as kicking a door or climbing a ladder. To remember the exact route you’ve taken previously, so you can change it up on the next round, can be difficult.

That’s basically the jist of the gameplay. It’s not as in-depth as other first person shooters, but its better than nothing.

Quick Play

This mode allows you to replay any mission you’ve completed. There’s also a Training Map in here. If you haven’t played this game at all, you will want to visit as it lets you try things out without worrying about being shot. I did break down the missions in case you were wondering:

  • Training Map
  • Mission 1: Convoy Ambush (3 Combat Arenas)
  • Mission 2: UNM Defense (2 Combat Arenas)
  • Mission 3: The Bridge (3 Combat Arenas)
  • Mission 4: Hotel Rescue (2 Combat Arenas)
  • Mission 5: Army Base (3 Combat Arenas)
  • Mission 6: Street Fight (3 Combat Arenas)

You will most likely use this section to replay the missions to go after the collectibles and choose the different paths, but again it’s hard to remember what you’ve chosen so at least you can replay the same arenas over and over until you explore all of it.

Competition Maps

I thought this was kind of neat, you can compete with up to 8 players on who can score the most. Basically it’s random quick rounds and you kill as many baddies as you can. Whomever scores the most wins. This section has 3 different maps in it:

  • Mission 1: The Street
  • Mission 2: UN Compound
  • Mission 3: Roman Ruins

Stats

The stats area just keeps track of everything for you. In here, you have your Leaderboard which posts your scores to a global leaderboard so you can kind of compete with your online friends. Achievements are listed also. Career stats breaks it down a little further, going into detail about your Total Career (such as headshots, bullets fired, etc), mission stats (which keeps tracks of your score and times), weapon stats (number of shots fired/hit, etc) and your upgrade progression. It would be nice if you were able to have details about what all of the upgrades do. Instead its just icons and when you actually unlock an upgrade in mid-game, you have glance quickly, otherwise you won’t even realize you have an upgrade.

Options

The options are your standard ones, such as the Audio options allow volume adjustment for the Effects, Music and Dialog. Game options cover changing the Y-Axis Invert, Controller Vibration and Toggle the Subtitles on or off. Kinect Options include Calibrate Cursor, Kinect Tuner, and Reset Calibration. The credits are also available as well. Lastly, there is a Blackwater FAQ but it only covers How To Play, What is competition mode, and Who is Blackwater.

Conclusion

The controls work pretty well, and you can also use either arm as your firing arm, in case one gets tired. The quick time events just require natural gestures that you are used to such as kicking, crouching, climbing, etc. Grenades are easy to throw as well, so at least the controls worked good to make it a better experience. You can also use the controller if you don’t want to use Kinect, although it’s the same exact setup as Kinect, you just use the thumb sticks for your gestures and aiming.

I didn’t bother including any videos since this an older game and there are tons out there already, but my overall experience with it wasn’t entirely sour as seen in many other reviews. Like I mentioned, if you treat this game like the older arcade shooters like Virtua Cop, you’ll probably like it, I’m just not certain for how long. It really would have been fantastic using the gun from Cabela’s, since that is the only gun peripheral game I have played for Kinect, but more than likely, we aren’t going to see anything really cool, first person shooter wise, until Kinect 2 comes to play. Anyhow, if you want to try something different other than Call of Duty/Battlefield, give it a whirl. This game is dirt cheap nowadays.


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Blackwater
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