Developer: Arctic Mill
Price: $1.99
Version: 1.01
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Controls Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Normally, I cringe at the words “real-time strategy.” These are games I just was not meant to play. But I’m glad I took a look at Castle Raid because, even though it’s a real-time strategy game, I still found it easy and fun to play.

Part of what I really like about Castle Raid is that there’s no lengthy setup required. In fact, most games last about 5 to 7 minutes. Resource gathering is simple, and the field is so small that there’s no need to hunt down the enemy. I just send my guys out to collect wood while saving up enough gold to hire archers, footmen and knights. There’s no need to manage individual units, either. Everyone knows exactly where to go and who to beat up.

The game features several different field types, but they always have 2 castles facing each other with resources and obstacles in the middle. Depending on the layout, half the battle might be in making sure the enemy doesn’t gather enough resources while other layouts lead to a brute force, war of attrition.

There are four basic units, from the resource gathering peasants to the very powerful knight units. Then, there are the footmen, who can take a pounding but move very slowly. Archers are good for long-range attacks but are easy to kill. To upgrade units, simply build them in groups of 3 or more, which takes a little extra time but results in a “morale boost,” making them much stronger. No complicated build orders necessary. Even the castles themselves have offensive and defensive capabilities through their two towers. It only requires time for them to recharge, but once they do, they can each be highly effective when used properly. Finally, to win the round, a player’s army must break through the frontline to tear down the walls of the enemy castle. And that’s it. Straightforward, high-intensity action.

Castle Raid takes a “2 players, 1 device” approach to multiplayer. This is a case where the iPad’s larger screen might be more suitable than the iPhone. Hey, maybe this is where that extra space on the iPhone 5 will come in handy? Either way, each player acts in real-time, just as in the single-player game. I couldn’t find an extra pair of hands to play against, so I went solo in the multiplayer game. Turns out, my right hand is better than my left.

I’m not a real-time strategy guy — not by a long shot. So the fact that I enjoy Castle Raid as much as I do is a powerful statement. While it might not be what the hardcore crowd is looking for, I found the simple gameplay and high-intensity action to be just right for my liking. The game is a bit short, but the more advanced characters will definitely give players a run for their money.


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