Now that we are solidly in this new console generation, developers are tasked with making the games that will define it. Hopefully at some point we will see something so different, so beyond what was offered on the PS3, 360 and Wii that it truly validates these new systems. In the meantime, it is also great to see what can be done with existing genres. So far we have seen FPS, racing, platformers, etc. brought into the next generation. Focus Home Interactive and He-Saw decided that it was time to bring us something that would remind us why we started buying consoles in the first place. Bringing home the fun of arcade games is what it was originally all about and adding some good old fashioned grindhouse flavor can only make that experience better. Enter Blue Estate, an on-rails style arcade shooter based upon the Image Comics’ title of the same name. Guns, sex, noir and more guns are the order of the day as you tear through the L.A. underworld with or without a friend.
For a deeper enjoyment of the game, please support the comic as well.
CAPISCII? Back in 2011, Victor Kalvachev and Image Comics brought us a crime drama series called Blue Estate. The story was about a double cross that turned into a triple cross that got so crossed up no GPS would get you out of it safely. Almost no one involved could be called a “good guy.” Instead, I will say the major players of the story included Tony Luciano, the son of L.A. Cosa Nostra boss, Don Luciano. Utterly inept at following in his father’s footsteps due to his inability to think before acting, Tony would get into one mess after another, often at the expense of the Don.”Big” Roy Devine is the chief of police and has been trying for years to bring down the Don without success as yet. His adopted son, Roy Devine Jr. is a private detective who despite having skills worthy of the force never became a cop because he is in terrible shape. Without spoiling this or the story of the comics, let’s just say that despite being a goofball, Jr. is highly underrated. The game takes place before the events of the comics as fans will see noticeable differences in Tony, Cherry Popz and Blue Estate. This story involves two strip clubs, The Smoking Barrel (Tony’s Club) and The Twin Dragon (owned by Jin Bong & Kim Bong Sik) and their star attractions. The Twin Dragon had the Mermaid Princess, Neptuna and the Smoking Barrel had Cherry. One day, Neptuna decided to run off with the man of her dreams and the Sik Brothers decided that Cherry would be their new attraction since auditions for a new mermaid were not going so well. Big problem is that no one asked Cherry or more importantly, Tony for permission. Tony does what only Tony would do and raids their club to get Cherry back. Not wanting a gang war (or a dead son), the Don sends Clarence, aka “Johnny,” after him to clean up the mess and bring back his idiot son. The rest, is history for you (and a friend), as the player(s) to make.
L1 EQUALS MORE FUN Whether you have read the comics or have seen the trailers, you know that Blue Estate has a lot of guns in it. As Tony carves his path through the Sik gang, he uses everything from his golden Desert Eagle to shotguns up to fully automatic rifles. The controls are simple and easy to remember which is paramount for a rail shooter. The PS4 has no light gun peripheral (and I hope they never make one) so the Dualshock 4 is your weapon of choice. Any of you that have played inFAMOUS: Second Son or even just used the PS4’s motion control to write a message know how easy it is to use the controller when it comes to pointing. The use of the touchpad is also reminiscent of that game as you occasionally have to get Tony’s hair out of his face when it blocks your vision or do something like get a humping Chihuahua off of your leg. That is really about all there is to this game in terms of control aside from shooting, reloading, taking cover and selecting your weapon (once you obtain more than one). When you start a new game, you calibrate the controller based upon your position to ensure that your target reticule is properly centered. This seems to go off pretty quickly, sometimes before you even get past the main menu. At first I thought this would force you to point the controller at ridiculous angles just to try and hit anything and found the what should be a fun game to be very frustrating. After chatting with a member of the development team (and realizing that I should have paid more attention to the instructions) I was able to remedy the problem. Any time the controller goes off you just have to point at the middle of the screen and hit either L1 or up on the D-pad. This re-centers you anytime you need and makes sure you continue to enjoy Tony’s ragefest. I would still love it if a patch could fix this but what I originally thought was a game breaker is fully serviceable. Now if I could only stop these guys from shooting at me!
DYIN’ NEVER LOOKED SO GOOD! The quality of PSN/XBLA titles never ceases to amaze me. Blue Estate is not on the graphical level of full release titles, but as you can see from the screens and video, it is no slouch either. Some might get stuck for a minute or two on the menu screen because Cherry’s um…performance looks that good. The animation is solid and control issues aside you will really feel like you are in a Dave & Buster’s with a light gun in your hand. In an age where developers are eliminating the HUD from your screen entirely, it is refreshing to see a health gauge and competitive types like myself love having both a score on screen and seeing ridiculously titled bonus points appear for headshots and nutshots. The fact that this game simultaneously looks good and does not take itself seriously is what could give it cult classic status if the control issues are corrected. It is only a shame that the co-op is local only. Considering the fact that almost everyone with a PS4 is likely to be a PS+ subscriber, it would be great to be able to connect with others online and have voice chat.
We are officially in the summer blockbuster movie season which means that we are also in the summer video game dry season. Probably the biggest title to come out until the fall is (ahem) Madden. For that reason, gamers need titles like this to be sprinkled across the coming months. He-Saw did a great job visually of bringing Kalvachev’s characters to the small screen. Just looking at the cover from issue# 2 shows you why Cherry Popz had to be in this game. Her role in the comic was minimal, yet pivotal, as certain events would have played out differently without her involvement. Reading the comic will make you understand why Tony would go to war for her; it is not the reason that you would think. Storywise and graphically, this game can practically do no wrong. This is about as close as you will come to playing your favorite parts of a Pulp Fiction/Kill Bill/Grindhouse type movie in a game without too much substance. The control issue of the target reticule going of center is minor as a game of this type requires quick button presses from the player anyway. Re-centering the reticule feels like a normal action in the game. Twenty dollars is a bargain for this game; let’s face it, when you go to your favorite store to buy a game, you look to see if any titles have dropped to this price point (or less) anyway. If you have PlayStation Plus (and I doubt very many PS4 owners do not) the game is only $14.99 making it an even better value. I really like this title for both reading and playing; it is definitely worth trying out and anyone that likes either FPS or arcade shooters will have a blast with Blue Estate.