It is seriously raining sheep, sheep which accelerate at lightning speed thanks to their ability to modulate gasses as a form of propulsion. You'd be forgiven at this point if you thought I was talking about Worms. I'm not though; I'm talking about a fun downloadable title on XBLA by the name of CastleStorm.
It's a charming game right out of the gate, it's a frustrating and addictive game too. There are various objectives to each of the game's many stages, some of them are fairly simple and some of them will require forces upgrades and hero upgrades to eventually achieve. What is it though, well - you take one part Angry Birds, one part side-on RTS and one part Castle Constructor game and mix them together until blended really well.
It's a physics based castle destruction battle-game which has elements of tower defence and it is thoroughly addictive.
Knights vs. Vikings in a no-holds barred, cartoon battle for survival. Expect some humorous twists and turns, with some fairly neat dialogue. It's got a story though, what more do you want?
Simple gameplay lies at the core of the game, with the ballista as your number one way of murdering hordes of enemy soldiers and lobbing various projectiles at them/their castle. You can swap unlocked projectiles easily and the GUI is immensely friendly - there are only a few buttons to learn and it's pretty simple to keep track of summoning troops, firing your ballista and handling the battle all at once.
You can even teleport Sir Gareth (your hero) to battle and use him in a side-on action mode, giving you a respite from being the battle commander. Gareth has his shield, a bow and his sword to make light work of various enemies - from soldiers to large trolls and even more. There are also various spells you can unlock as you progress through the 12 locales, each with their own set of missions which vary from defence, offence and even skirmish style modes.
With the slick control system and GUI, CastleStorm becomes easy to play - hard to master. Then of course there's the robust upgrade system, where all your projectiles, weapons, hero and soldiers can be upgraded via a user friendly menu.
How about a Tower Creator, build, modify and upgrade your own castle through a very well designed construction menu which lets you play around with the stock designs and make your own from scratch. Whilst there's little help offered for this particular element of the game, it does seem fairly intuitive and works well enough. Here you can add new rooms you've unlocked from campaign mode and this all matters, whilst cosmetic walls and towers give you no benefit, many of the rooms you unlock will allow you to increase your army size and add additional forces to your troop menu.
Once you get the hang of the castle creation, it's a breeze and extremely well done. If you want to test how it'll fare against the enemy you can lob projectiles at it and test its structural integrity if you want, which is nearly as fun as playing the game!
You can play Skirmish, Survival and Hero Survival in single player if you have unlocked them from campaign. As you might expect, Skirmish is basically a war vs. AI castle with various units and so forth, whilst Survival is your castle vs. waves of enemies.
Hero Survival is great fun and it's your hero vs. waves of enemies. Enemies will try and steal your flag or kill you; you have all your unlocked powers of Sir Gareth (or your unlocked hero) to deal with the pesky buggers.
So that's the gameplay of CastleStorm in a nutshell, really fun and very addictive.
CastleStorm oozes charm from its cartoon bright graphics and larger than life characters. Everything has a slick level of detail which comes across really well and makes the game look superb.
These interleave into the bright colourful graphics, working well to support the visual look of the game. It features smooth animation and when in Hero mode you can see the polish on the animations working up close.
CastleStorm is physics based side-on destruction at its best. The various materials all break in different ways and the projectiles do varying damage based on material, weight and mass. If you get the right structural component hit you can collapse huge chunks of the enemy fortress - of course they can do the same to you.
CastleStorm's AI can be quite ruthless and later on it becomes fairly devious, it employs rush tactics and some nasty accurate shots to break down your weakest defences. Good stuff.
Good solid audio backs up the great visuals.
A nice fantasy score goes with the audio and creates a fun atmosphere.
What voice acting there is has been performed really well and recorded crisply.
A simple but effective script works well; it has some genuinely funny moments. It mainly tells a fun story and provides a chuckle here and there.
Live or local gameplay, with split-screen modes for that couch-buddy time! Skirmish, Survival and Hero Survival modes are available. In Survival one player mans the ballista whilst the other handles the army and so on. In Hero Survival you're teamed with a buddy and hold off waves of enemies.
CastleStorm is a truly good quality game which deserves praise for taking several game types and blending them nicely into a well balanced mix. If you like Angry Birds, Tower Defence, lite-RTS and building your own castles only to knock them down - this is the game for you.