Blue Estate, the long awaited, fully Kinect 2 supported, darkly funny rail shooter based on Viktor Kalvachev’s comic books, is now available to download on Xbox Live for Xbox One priced at £10.39 / €12.99 / $12.99 with 20% off for Xbox Live Gold members until March 16th! You can watch the launch trailer above.

The Xbox One version of Blue Estate includes an exclusive Arcade Mode which you can read more info about in the following press release, plus you can find out my first impressions of the game if you read further:

 

BLUE ESTATE ARCADE MODE – Xbox One exclusive feature!

BLUE ESTATETM will be available on February 18, 2015 on Xbox One for $12.99.

Xbox Live Gold members are entitled to an exceptional 20% discount for a limited time!

Paris, France – February 17th 2015

Hesaw today unveils the ARCADE MODE of BLUE ESTATE, an exclusive feature on Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft.

BLUE ESTATE™ will be available on February 18, 2015 on Xbox One for $12.99/12.99€/10.39£

THE ARCADE MODE

The arcade mode is playable as an alternative to the classic story mode. This mode can be unlocked by playing the story mode, and can be accessed from the main menu.

These additional gameplay sequences take places in 7 exclusive levels, where the player has to overcome new sets of challenges with new gameplay rules.

The arcade mode is playable in single player only, in 3 difficulty levels.

KEY FEATURES

1/ “Kill to survive”

To stay alive, the player must kill enemies at regular intervals. There is no health gauge. Instead, a timer is displayed at the bottom of the screen, indicating how much time is left to kill an enemy. This timer is reset each time an enemy is killed. If the timer reaches 0, the game is over.

2/ Acquiring New Weapons

The player starts the level with a handgun. It is possible to acquire stronger weapons by getting a decent killstreak without taking damage. A counter displayed on the bottom right-hand side of the screen indicates how many enemies the player must kill to acquire the next weapon. Each time the player is shot, this counter is reset. Acquired weapons cannot be lost.

3/ Using the Slow-Motion

On the bottom left-hand side of the screen, a slow motion gauge fills itself up with each headshot kill. When the gauge is full, it is possible to trigger a slow motion phase at any time, very useful when facing a large number of enemies, or to avoid the timer running out.

4/ Fast Forward

The player’s skill and speed are rewarded with a fast forward feature: when all on-screen enemies have been killed, the camera speeds up until the next wave of enemies is triggered. This feature is represented by an icon displayed on-screen. Each second of fast forward earns the player bonus points.

5/ New scoring system and dedicated online leaderboards:

· Bodyshot kills earn the player 1,000 points, headshot and nutshot kills 2,000 points
· In slow motion, points for each enemy killed are multiplied x3
· Each second of fast forward earns the player 5,000 points
· Each weapon acquired earns the player a 50,000 point bonus
· All points earned are multiplied x2 on Abnormal and x3 on Crazytrain
· Killing all enemies in a level earns you a 100,000 point bonus at the end of each level.

The global ranking is calculated based on the total score, and is displayed as a letter, the best being an “S” ranking.

Blue Estate, the darkly funny rail shooter developed by HESAW and based on the Eisner Award-nominated Blue Estate comic books from Viktor Kalvachev, will be available February 18, 2015 on Xbox One via the ID@Xbox self-publishing program for $12.99. All Xbox Live Gold members can also take advantage of a special discount of 20% for a limited time!

 

About HESAW

HESAW is a video game development studio established in 2012 in Paris, France.
The core team was built by six video game industry veterans united by the same values: “Quality over Quantity.” HESAW is currently developing its first project, BLUE ESTATE – The Game, based on the comic book series created by Viktor Kalvachev.

 

 

Blue Estate First Impressions

I’ve played the first 3 levels of Blue Estate’s Story Mode using Kinect 2 on “ABNORMAL” difficulty which is the 2nd difficulty level as “CRAZYTRAIN”, the 3rd difficulty level, is locked at the start. I’ve only played in single player but the Story Mode does have offline 2-player co-op. Here are my impressions so far, split into pros and cons:

Pros

So far Blue Estate seems like a great lightgun-style game and the Kinect controls work fine as long as I play it standing up. I’ll explain more about that in the cons. My previous advice about playing Kinect shooters isn’t 100% accurate for Blue Estate though as I used the example of Target Shooting in Kinect Sports Rivals which tracks the angle of your hand as if it was the gun so you only had to make very subtle small movements to aim. This isn’t the case for Blue Estate which seems to just track your hand more basically to aim like the cursor on the dashboard for example, so you have to move your hand and arm around a little more. Although you should still move quite subtley, don’t wave your hand about all over the place with big movements or it won’t work properly.

Blue Estate uses autofire but it’s not like Kinect Sports Rivals’ Target Shooting or Toy Story Mania! on Xbox 360 which constantly shoot, it’s like Blackwater on the Xbox 360 where it shoots after you’ve held the reticule over the enemy/target object for a split second. It seems to shoot slightly quicker than Blackwater though, more like a quarter of a second rather than half a second, except for bonus objects like the lucky cat statues in the first level which seem to take possibly as long as a second to fire. I’m guessing the reason it takes longer for bonus objects is so that it’s a bit more challenging and you can’t accidentally shoot them, you need to specifically focus your aim on them. It’s very accurate though so if you’re skillful enough you should have no problem getting headshots.

You reload by lowering your hand so that the reticule goes off-screen and for the shotgun you have to keep your hand lowered until all the shells are loaded if you want it fully loaded. Once you pick up a new weapon you can change weapons by raising your hand up and behind your shoulder slightly. You can only have two weapons at any one time though, your handgun which you have all the time that has unlimited ammo (although you still have to reload after every 9 shots) and the secondary weapon such as a shotgun and machine gun which require ammo pick-ups.

The other controls are some basic gestures to perform various moves, knock projectile weapons back at enemies, collect items (except slo-mo, which you have to shoot) and brush your hair from your eyes when you’re playing as Tony! It adds a little extra challenge to the gameplay.

I’d say Blue Estate’s gameplay is most similar to the Virtua Cop and Time Crisis games and judging by what I’ve played so far it’s at least as good if not better than the Time Crisis games I’ve played and quite close in quality to the first two Virtua Cop games. (I haven’t played enough of Virtua Cop 3 to compare.) Unlike those games it’s got loads of funny speech and captions and throughout the game along with comic-style cutscenes at the start and between levels. You’ll probably have to play it many times to catch all the jokes and references. I’m guessing it’s just like the Blue Estate comics it’s based on, but I can’t confirm that as I haven’t read any.

The enemies are fairly varied and although it starts off quite simple it soon gets hectic with enemies coming from all over the place and gestures thrown into the mix. The second level boss is quite challenging and the fight lasts for quite a while, hopefully there’ll be more boss fights like it since there weren’t bosses for the first and third levels for some reason. There’s a good combo system where you have a combo counter with a circular combo meter around it which drains between each enemy shot so if you don’t shoot the next enemy before the meter runs out you break the combo and the counter is reset. The counter doesn’t drain while there are no enemies around though, so if you get skilled enough you could keep the combo counter going throughout the whole level!

Cons

Blue Estate’s graphics are Xbox 360 quality, although I can let that slide really since this is the first game of an independent developer made up of a handful of people and it looks better than a lot of other critically acclaimed indie games.

Although Blue Estate’s Kinect controls worked fine when I played standing up I couldn’t get them to work properly when I tried to play sitting down. It’s possible that this could simply be a positioning issue. My Kinect 2 is on top of my TV at about 6ft, perhaps if it was a few feet lower Blue Estate would work properly when played sitting down. I have asked the developer about this and will update the article if I get an answer that’s different to what I’ve just speulated. If anybody else has problems playing it sitting down then let us know in the comments below and you should try playing it standing up. If you don’t have any problems with the Kinect controls when playing sitting down then let us know where you have your Kinect 2 positioned.

The gestures do add to the gameplay but I have some criticisms. First is that they’re just simple directional swipes, it would have been nice if there were more actual actions to perform and if they had used the whole body rather than just the hand. For example taking cover could have been performed by ducking or leaning, depending on where the cover is, rather than just swiping down. I’ve got another issue with taking cover too which is that it actually uses your aiming hand rather than your gesture hand for some reason, so it’s trickier to aim as you come out of cover. Next is attacking melee weapon wielding enemies up close using a gesture. It always seems to be a left swipe, which is awkward to perform while you’re shooting enemies with the other hand, and ironically unlike the taking cover gesture it would have actually been better for this gesture to be performed with the aiming hand since your character pistol-whips the enemies when you perform the gesture.

Finally, although there are lots of varied enemies and it gets hectic, it could be even more dynamic with the screen moving around more during active gameplay (the parts where you’re actually shooting) and big things attacking like vehicles. Also, like I said previously, I’d like more bosses. Having said all that, I’ve only played the first 3 levels of Blue Estate so there could be more of all those things in the rest of the game.

Overall

Overall I really like what I’ve played so far of Blue Estate, it’s a lot of fun and I think fans of the genre should love it. At the moment I’d say it’s worth around an 8, especially if my last paragraph of criticisms is addressed in later levels. It would probably be worth between 8.5 and 9 if all my criticisms were addressed but to get 9 or higher it would have had to have more in-depth Kinect controls like Blackwater where you can actually move your body around to dodge and take cover, kick open doors and throw grenades etc.

 

Are you more or less interested in Blue Estate based on the videos you’ve seen so far and my first impressions? Have you got the game already? If so let us know what you think of it so far. And if you’ve finished the gaem, including the Arcade Mode, don’t forget you can post a user review in our Kinect 2 games reviews forum here: https://123kinect.com/kinect-forums/forum-199.html

 

Screenshots

 

Source: Blue Estate The Game's YouTube Channel