Roll back the furniture and get ready for a workout because the Blackwater experience is coming to your living room. Which won’t mean any bullet holes in the wall, but will mean an increase in your heart rate.
Blackwater, slated to hit shelves in North America on October 25 and be available worldwide soon thereafter, is a fully interactive action shooter that uses Microsoft’s motion-sensing Kinect technology for Xbox 360. Instead of playing the game with your thumbs, you use your entire body.
“This is the first shooter game on the Kinect platform,” says Erik Prince, founder of the former security-contracting firm Blackwater Worldwide. “I was adamant about creating a game that got people off the couch, moving, reacting, and sweating.”
To negotiate a variety of hostile environments, you stand (and move and duck and dodge) in front of your TV while Kinect’s cameras track up to 25 different actions. You target enemies as though you were holding a pistol. A throwing motion lobs a grenade. A kicking motion knocks down a door. And to take cover, well, dive behind whatever you can.
“The beauty of the game,” says Peter Matiss of publisher 505 Games, “is that the breadth of controls is streamlined. I think people will be surprised at how quickly they’ll pick it up.”
To ensure authenticity, Prince secured licensing from Colt, Sig Suaer, Mossberg and others. He and a few other former Blackwater personnel also worked with game developer Zombie Studios to recreate lifelike scenarios and realistic combat.
“Our technical advisers were integral to helping the designers with individual and team movement, as well as the look and feel of the game,” says Prince. “You’ll move the way a Blackwater team member would move in a firefight. You’ll react the way our guys react. It will definitely get your blood pumping.”
As part of a four-man Blackwater unit, you’ll be operating in a fictional North African city. Mission objectives include protecting dignitaries, fighting off warlords, and keeping at bay opposing militias. You can play as one of four team members—a sniper, sub-machinegun specialist, shotgunner, or assault-rifle specialist—each with a different weapon and combat role.
And while the game is heavy on authenticity, it’s light on some of the less-attractive aspects of most shooter games. There are no civilians to kill, there’s a minimum of blood and gore, and the language is mild.
“We wanted the game to be realistic but fun, and available to gamers as young as teenagers,” says Prince, who’s ordered a copy of the game for his sons. “Frankly, I’m just not a fan of gratuitous violence. The violence in shooter games ought to be part of the mission—good guys killing the bad guys.”