Blue Estate Review – Legend of the Drunken Crosshair (PS4)
There is an impressive amount of talent that went into some aspects of Blue Estate. It starts you off thinking it’s going to be a really cool, gritty comedy where you get to shoot stuff a lot. But instead, it’s a really annoying rail shooter that grates on you after a while, while sometimes making you laugh. I wanted to enjoy this game more, but too many things came up that lowered my overall fun level.
I won’t worry about the fact that Blue Estate has a pretty ridiculous storyline, because it’s meant to be ridiculous. The narrator is annoying, and the game points that out and makes fun of it. Those times, I laughed out loud, but the story itself didn’t make me jump up and down with excitement, it just was what it was, which was simply a vessel to carry the player through levels while shooting anything that moves. The characters are over-the-top stereotypical mob characters with glaring personalities, and I appreciated the style the game was going for. Inspired by the graphic novel of the same name, it really captures the spirit of those comics.
At the beginning of each level, you would see a comic book cover style title screen that morphs into the beginning of the level. I loved this part! The art style here was really impressive, plus the way it fades into the level was always really well done. Sometimes there were digitial art stills to illustrate the story during a narrative cutscene, and those were also pretty cool. I only wish that I got to see the main characters, Tony and Clarence, in real time rather than just as a digital art illustration, because I wanted to witness and compare the quality of the animation to the illustration.
The graphics were high quality, but I couldn’t hold that in high regard because I just got so annoyed with the gameplay. I was actually pretty good at this game (and I know because Chandler tried playing it too and he really sucked, and he’s usually better than me at a lot of games). My talent didn’t help me enjoy the game more, though. At the start of each level I would think “Okay, this is fun. I’m not too bad at this.” Then, what seemed to be an hour later, I would still be in the same level, still in the same area, still shooting the same enemies. The levels lasted way too long, reaching close to the half hour mark in some cases. I wouldn’t mind if the gameplay was more varied or something, but I got so tired of this. In the beginning, I saw Blue Estate as being a fun, short rail shooter with a gritty, funny story. But it was a torturous, long rail shooter with a drowned-out, funny story.
The actual shooting mechanic was annoying, too. This game uses the DualShock 4’s gryoscope to motion control the crosshair, which means it drifts constantly. During faster hectic parts, this gets really bad and really frustrating. I wish you could use the move controller or your PS4’s camera to help track your movements and not let the accuracy get so skewed — I mean, isn’t that what the lightbar is for? I would test out how much the crosshairs drifted when I was just watching while my character moved through to the next spot, and if I moved from center to the right, and back to center, the crosshair would be off already. Even with a small movement. I tried many different ways of holding the controller in relation to the screen, resetting to center in a variety of angles and other finite positions, and it would always get skewed. I feel like this is yet another missed opportunity to use the advanced capabilities of the PS4. Perhaps a future update will enable use of the camera and/or Move for a more accurate experience, but for now, the hectic parts of the game end up more frustrating due to constantly having to reset the crosshair.
If you have a buddy with you though, Blue Estate turns into a bit of dumb fun. It’s a whole lot easier to get through the levels faster (so you don’t go insane) and not die as much. And you can play around with the levels by trying to shoot random stuff, or trying to kill more dudes than your friend does (and steal kills). This was what I wish the game was more like in solo mode. The over-the-top comedy of the game was also somehow more fun with a friend. This still didn’t fix the awkward control issues, but at least I was having fun playing the game with someone else which helped to cover up how shaky the controls can be.
I give Blue Estate a little credit and weigh it more on the side of challenging instead of on the side of failure, just because there were some fun parts and some people might love the long levels, testy controls, and the crazy story. Personally, I was just tired of fighting with my crosshair through 20-30 minute long levels by the end. So if it’s ever on a great sale and you really love rail shooters, you likely won’t be disappointed, but no alternate methods of control and overly long levels killed my experience like a flood of gangsters getting in the way of Tony Luciano.
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