Blue Estate Review

 

 Sexual Objectification, Racial Stereotyping and Nutshots. 

Fact File:
Developer: Hesaw
Players: 1- Local Co-op
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
This Review: Xbox One

 

Blue Estate boasts the title of the first on-rails shooter to grace the next generation of gaming consoles and was developed by He-Saw, releasing on the Xbox One and Playstation 4 consoles. The game was developed to support both the Xbox One's Kinect sensor and the Playstation 4's gyroscopic controller feature. Though it does support these features the player can (and will) opt to use their console's controller instead.

As the player you'll be controlling two characters, Tony and Clarence. Tony is the only son of the LA mob boss Don Luciano and manager of an "establishment" (strip club) called 'The Smoking Barrel'. When Tony's star dancer 'Cherry Popz' (yes that is her name, seriously) is abducted and forced to work for the Sik brothers, who look suspiciously similar to the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, Tony raises hell to get her back. Clarence is an ex-navy seal and contract killer who takes on contracts for the Don in an attempt to escape his undesirable financial situation.

All in all the story is very lacking, I've played the game twice and I'm still unsure of what the game is about. The story is narrated by a detective who is presented as a typical introverted nerd who speaks in such an annoying whiny voice and at such a speed its often hard to understand what he's saying at all. When all is said and done you'll have also discovered the game is only a small handful of hours long, which is disappointing to say the least for the amount of money you spend.


The game follows the traditional on-rails shooter formula of the player being guided to different scenes and engaging in fast paced shooting gallery type segments. When using the Kinect sensor for the Xbox One console I found that the cursor on screen would act irrationally and dart from corner to corner, spasming as it did so. The sensor seldom recognised where I was actually pointing my hand and the gun gesture I was making soon began to ache my out stretched arm. Half way through the first mission I decided to hang up the old Kinect and go primal, I picked up the controller.

For some reason there isn't an option to change your preferred method of play in the game pause screen, or at all within the game in fact. The only way I was able to revert to the controller function play was to unplug the Kinect completely and restart the game. For a game that incorporates gyroscopic and motion tracking technology but cannot allow the player to switch between traditional controller and the aforementioned technology functions is rather ironic.


When I was playing the game with the Xbox One controller I will admit, I was enjoying myself. The game itself, at its core, is rather varied for a rails shooter. It does well to keep some variation in both enemy types and level design and this really helps keep players engaged as rail shooters can understandably become monotonous very quickly. There are a series of missions that take place in clubs, a OKFC chicken factory, a graveyard, a golf course and even Jamaica. The levels are well designed for the most part, providing ever changing scenery and perspectives within the environments.

There are varying enemy types that add variety to gameplay and how the player can respond to enemies within the environments. There are enemies that attack with melee and when prompted with a white arrow on screen the player can swipe in the given direction to 'slap' attackers back. In addition there are ranged attack enemies that can throw projectiles such as grenades, molotovs, flour sacks, rocks, and glass bottles. Then there are the typical shooting enemies with a range of firearms to watch out for.



The visual presentation of the game is pretty decent running at 1080p on the PS4. I found the graphic quality to be good looking and models closer to the player perspective like gun to be very detailed and well designed.

There are a few boss fights through out the game, however they are very shallow and lack any substance. The player follows a predetermined path  in which they loop repeatedly until each enemy boss has been killed. This does not slip unnoticed as you soon realize that not only are you going round in circles in a boss arena but you are also preforming the same cinematic movements to do so. If feels lazy and cheap and pale a performance in comparison to some of the great rail shooters out there like Time Crisis, House of The Dead: OverKill and Umbrella Chronicles.



Blue Estate sells itself as darkly funny and that it does try painstakingly hard to be. However the game rarely surpasses the "booby booby hump hump" level of sophomoric humor one would expect of a rabble of ten year old boys. Filled to the brim with leg humping Chihuahuas, Nutshots and ridiculously silly characters Blue Estate delivers an eye-rollingly cringe worthy attempt at humor, that should have been left in the school yard long ago.


Finally we arrive at the most prominent and embarrassing downfall of them all. Blue Estate does nothing to hide it's blatant objectification of women through-out its multiple playable areas. There is only one woman who speaks in this title and is the embarrassingly named 'Cherry Popz' and she is dressed exclusively in latex lingerie.

Now Cherry is a driving force in Tony's storyline as his objective is to rescue her from the Sik brothers and their rival club. Already this premise follows the damsel in distress trope and Cherry truly is being objectified. In a dispute between the Sik brothers and Tony, Cherry is the prize and nothing more. She is described as being a "star dancer, who was pretty famous amongst the strip joint circles" and that the Sik brothers "abducted her to work at their rival club against her will." The motives of these men are clear, Cherry is an object that can earn them money and so they fight over her. In additional every female that appears in the game are dressed in lingerie and are hyper sexualised.

The game does release a warning during the opening title screens that claims no character in the game is to be taken seriously as they are all bad people and say horrendous things. However dialog and representation of both differing races and women isn't influenced by character dialogue so I'm afraid that disclaimer fall flat, and it kind of feels like Blue Estate realizes it's content is not morally correct and seeks to side step this.

 For a game being released in 2015 and especially on Microsoft's Xbox One console that blatantly dehumanizes and objectifies women sexually is not innovative or entertainment and isn't appreciated.



Not only does Blue Estate take a seemingly sexually oppressive stance on female representation within their game, racial stereotyping isn't beyond its reach either. Throughout the game characters of different races are characterized through stereotypical and insensitive signifyers of their races. The Chinese Sik brothers possess mystical Chinese powers, the Jamaican Olympic sprinters dart past the players akin to the flash, the Jamaican level boss is a Jamaican man whose body is adorned in only his dreadlocks and health bar is signified by marijuana leaves. In addition the term 'Euro trash' is common place through-out the game. Need I say more? Because I can, but I thought you'd get the message by now.

My final comment on the title is; I wish Xbox Marketplace did refunds because I want my £8 back. And that was the sale price.

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