The iPhone is THE platform for pick-me-up-and-play games. And there certainly are a lot of them on the App Store. Unfortunately, few of them warrant any attention, and even fewer offer any challenge for that grey mass in your skull. But every once in a while, there comes a gem that can really showcases what we’ve come to expect from the App Store. One of such games is Castle Warriors, a reiteration of the Galcon concept, but with a twist.
Okay, anyone familiar with Galcon can skip this paragraph; for everybody else I’ll outline the concept. There are a number of castles positioned on the map and the goal of the game is to conquer all of them. You and your enemy each start out with several castles and some armies in them (usually your enemy has twice as many castles as you do) and all of the others on the map are neutral. To capture a castle, you send your army (part, half, most or all) from one of your existing ones. If the castle is neutral, then even 1 soldier is enough. If the castle is already occupied then a battle will occur, in which the size of the army play the deciding role – although the defending party is supported by the castle they’re in. The concept is simple, right? Well, yes and no.
The twist, which is also the main difference from the Galcon (apart from the medieval setting) is that Castle Warriors is not fixed path. Meaning you can send the armies from your first castle straight to the one on the opposite side of the map. Also, if the rival armies meet in open field – usually by accident since you can only target castles and it’s almost impossible to time the movement to intercept the enemy – they fight it out until one side is annihilated, or it’s night time.
And here we come to the second twist. Castle Warriors is split into days (rounds if you will) and you have only a limited number of them to win the map. At the end of each day, all armies out in the field return to their closest friendly castles. A recap of the day is then calculated and based on your performance, you are awarded a number of reinforcements that arrive the following day in two waves. The reinforcements are the only way of increasing your armies (unlike Galcon where the “army” strength on the nodes increase over time). Also, at the start of the day, depending on the amount of troops stationed some castles are upgraded to offer that extra kick to the invading armies. Depending on the castle type it can range from all-round arrow fire to extremely powerful magic attacks and ghosts that scare the pants off of the troops. And the castles also take shots at enemy armies that pass in proximity, regardless of whether they actually attack that particular castle.
Graphically the game is breathtaking. The map and castles are in full 3D and the 2D pixel armies are beautifully drawn. The scrolling is made akin to turning the globe around, and there is a clear horizon. You really feel like an all-powerful general when playing the game. The sound also adds to the atmosphere. The minimap offers an overview of the current situation and the alerts, beautifully stylized, notify you of enemy attacks on your castles. The game menus are also visually outstanding. Mind you, all of this does come with a price tag, and though the game usually performs well on my 3G, sometimes it does lag a bit, which can be frustrating. 3GS users probably won’t have any problems with performance and occasional lag though.
Unfortunately, not all is well in the kingdom of Castle Warriors. First of all, there is no zoom and the stock view is such that the game ultimately turns into furious attempts of scrolling the map and sending your armies at the enemy castles. As a result, you can’t help but miss the hordes the AI sends to some of your remote castles that have zero defences. To make matters worse, while paused you’re not able to issue any commands to your armies; with lots happening on the battlefield, this can lead to a stock full of frustration. The AI does a decent job, but even at Hard difficulty, it offers a challenge only thanks to a higher initial troop count. This game would really shine in multiplayer, but alas, none to speak of just yet.
At the end of the day, Castle Warriors is an excellent blend of Action and Strategy gaming that will give a thorough workout to your brain muscles. The 12 level campaign does a good job of keeping you occupied for a decent amount of time and the assortment of castle types adds that extra twist. The stunning graphics really show what the iPhone is capable of and with a little optimization for performance, it can really put almost all games on the App Store to shame. I would say that the only thing stopping me from “Kissing” Castle Warriors are the sometimes frustrating controls.
With this I pronounce Castle Warriors officially touched!
|Title:||Castle Warriors (v1.0)||Developer:||GameResort LLC
|Price:||$1.99||App Size:||30.2 MB|