Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Release Date: June 24th, 2014
Available On: PlayStation 4
So apparently someone got the bright idea to make an on-rails shooter for the PlayStation 4. Okay, weirder things have happened. I went in with pretty low expectations, and to my surprise I came away kind of pleased. Blue Estate – The Game is a bit of a weird offering, but maybe there will be something here for you to enjoy.
Of course when it comes to on rail shooters it seems weird to play them without a light gun. Blue Estate tries to subvert this by having you use the Dualshock 4’s motion controls to move the cursor around. The big thing that is going to determine how well Blue Estate plays is really going to boil down to how well this works. The good news? It works pretty damn well. There’s a learning curve for sure, but if you don’t mind getting used to it then you’ll actually find that Blue Estate is probably one of the best controlling on-rails shooters this side of the Wii. The game is clever by including a button to recalibrate the cursor to the center of the screen with the click of a button, making it so that if you lose your cursor then it’s no problem getting it back. The game also makes heavy use of the touch pad on the Dualshock 4. You’ll use it for simple things like opening doors, to more interesting ones like catching and throwing projectiles back at enemies. There’s also a cover system that allows you to sometimes take cover at places around the game by holding the reload button, but I honestly didn’t get much use out of that one.
Based on a graphic novel (that I honestly never heard of until this game), Blue Estate puts you in the role of two different characters. Tony is a psychopathic gangster out to try and rescue his girlfriend Cherry from an Asian gang, completely unconcerned about the gang war he’s starting in the process. Clarence, on the other hand, is an ex-Navy Seal who becomes a hired gun for the Luciano crime family to try and fix his growing cash problem. The game is also narrated by a nerdy private detective named Roy, though I wasn’t really sure of his role in the game or what he had to do with the other two characters. While I may not have gotten much out of the actual plot, I can say that the game was hilarious. It’s not subtle humor, but rather closer to a crass R-rated comedy. It’s not going to be for everyone, jokes run the gauntlet from racist to sexist to just flat out mean, but if it’s your kind of humor then you’ll probably get a lot out of Blue Estate’s story. I’ll also say that it made me interested enough to look into the graphic novel after I finished it, so that’s a good thing.
The game’s seven levels will see you going around from a Chinese whore house, to a fancy party for a rival gang lord, to the back room of a KFC knock-off fast food building. Each level takes about 20 – 30 minutes to complete, putting the game at about 2 and a half to three hours long. It’s a little on the expensive side for a $20 game, so it’s more of something I’d recommend picking up if it goes on sale. Like many on-rail shooters you can play the game with a friend, which of course makes it more enjoyable. Still, I can’t help but wish that there were more modes for me to play, since the most Blue Estate has is a difficulty slider and just trying to beat your high scores.
While the lack of content is probably Blue Estate’s biggest failing, the campaign at least kept me entertained with its set pieces and miniature challenges. One interesting thing is that Blue Estate will give you challenges for bonus points. A whack-a-mole styled challenge asks you to shoot enemies in the order they pop up, while another has you trying to make as many headshots as possible in as little time as possible. There’s also interesting set pieces sprinkled throughout the game. One saw Tony knocked over and enemies opening doors to take shots at him, requiring you to swipe the touch pad in various directions to close the doors on them. Another had him falling into some rapids, shooting logs out of his way as he continued downstream. I also enjoyed the game’s boss fights. My favorite was also the first: an Asian gangster who moved so fast you needed to collect slow-mo power-ups to target him, while also spending the time to knock his projectiles back at him. Oh, and he also narrates his history and achievements through the entire fight, something that sounded suspiciously similar to North Korea’s former dictator Kim Jong-Il. Other bosses include a wrestler with a stomach virus, and an albino Jamaican with a love of throwing knives.
Blue Estate has a learning curve, a crass story, and is really light on content for $20. Yet with some fun gameplay, surprisingly well made controls, entertaining co-op, and more than enough humor for anyone into those kinds of jokes, Blue Estate feels like a winner. It’s a game I’m surprised to find myself recommending it to PlayStation 4 owners, and I honestly think they should wait until it’s on sale, but I think it should be looked at as an how-to guide to how on-rail shooters should be done on consoles now.