If you haven’t read Victor Kalvechev’s Blue Estate, you should run down to the nearest comic book store and purchase it in its entirety. It’s a cleverly written, well paced and witty mob romp with all the twists and turns of your average Guy Richie movie except replace the east end of London with Hollywood. It’s basically Rock ‘n’ Rolla crossed with Get Shorty.
It’d be perfect as an adventure game in a similar vein to The Wolf Among Us or the upcoming Tales of Borderlands, there’s a lot of witty dialogue, back stabbing and mob enforcers with an almost unhealthy obsession with David Hasselhoff, but save for a huge shoot out at the end, not a lot of action. So, I was a little apprehensive when I found out that the game adaptation was an on rails shooter.
However, I’m happy to say that Blue Estate the Game is actually a rather good adaptation, retaining much of the wit and silliness that the source material so much fun to read. Like the book, the game doesn’t take itself too seriously and is genuinely laugh out loud funny at times.
Narrated by bumbling private investigator Roy Devine Jr. (and corrected by the FSP), the game follows the misadventures of the equally psychotic and incompetent mobster Tony Luciano as he attempts to rescue his favourite stripper Cherry Pops (not her real name) from the clutches of rival filth peddlers the Sik brothers, who look suspiciously like certain Korean dictators.
Players then take control of a cash strapped former Navy Seal turned hit man called Clarence, who is hired by Tony’s father, a notorious LA mob boss, to clean up the mess his son created, inadvertently pissing off the Russian mob in the process. As you would expect hilarity ensues in this absurd gangland comedy of errors.
Blue Estate also has a rather ingenious solution for the PS4’s lack of light gun. Rather than resorting to being a Move only game, instead it uses the Dual shock 4’s tilt sensor to aim an onscreen cross hair and uses swipe controls via the touchpad to pick up additional weapons, extra ammo and health, pistol whip sword wielding crazies, as well as shaking amorous Chihuahuas off your leg and pushing Tony’s hair out of his eyes.
For the best part the controls work rather well. You don’t even need to have the pad pointed at the screen and you can realign the crosshair to the centre by simply pressing up on the d-pad. Occasionally I found myself in an awkward position but this rarely happened during the fire fight. It’s also surprisingly accurate, once you get used to moving the pad you can pull off strings of headshots relatively easily. Likewise, it’s easy to swipe the touchpad whilst shooting, although, a couple of times it didn’t record my movements and I got clobbered with a Molotov at the worst possible time.
Tony and Clarence’s misadventures can be enjoyed in either single or multiplayer over the course of eight episodes, each clocking in at about 20-30 minutes apiece. On the whole, the action is incredibly tight and shooting is very satisfying, especially once you get your hands on some of the game’s more powerful secondary levels like the shotgun and assault rifle.
The games myriad of silly set pieces are also a real treat with highlight including popping out of the cake at a party held by Russian mobsters, ‘saving’ a stripper from drowning in a giant goldfish bowl and fighting a Jamaican Drug lord called Bloodshot.
Although not the best looking game on the PS4 for raw technical ability, it does have a strong art style that accurately recreates the look and feel of the comics in three dimensions. Along with accurate recreations of all of the series main characters the game’s use of harsh lighting and dark shadows combined with a vibrant colour palette do a fantastic job of bringing the world of Blue Estate to life.
My only problem with Blue Estate is that it’s all over way too quickly, clocking in at just over three hours and ending rather abruptly in a manner that suggests that there should be at least another chapter, but instead you’re shown the credits.
Sure, there are online leaderboards to try and top and Crazy Train (Hard) mode unlocked after you complete you first playthrough, but if you’re not into chasing high scores there’s almost no reason to return to the game once you’ve finished it. This combined with a relatively high asking price makes Blue Estate a rather difficult sell to all but diehard fans of the comic.