Version Reviewed: 1.0
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Game Controls Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Today news circulated that the appstore has hit 85,000 apps and over 2 billion downloads. Even with all those applications, and billions of downloads there are a few game genres that are still finding their way on the iPhone. Just recently the FPS genre has started to emerge with control standards and some outstanding titles. The RTS genre, a staple on the PC, has yet to make a successful splash into the app store, and is going to take designers a bit to figure this out. Castle Warriors' style can be loosely defined as an RTS, and is one of the first entries of it's type on the iPhone. The problem with being one of the first to define the genre on the iPhone is that you either take too many risks and come out messy, or you don't take enough and come across too simple. Castle Warriors suffers from the later.
Castle Warriors has taken the pseudo-RTS style that was made popular by Galcon, mixes it with a fantasy themed 3D engine and a classic good vs evil story line. Each map (which there are 12 of and 3 difficulty settings) starts you off with a certain number of troops in a castle up against an enemy with a similar amount of troops in some castles of their own. Spread across the map is a fixed amount of empty castles placed in varying strategic locations. The objective of each map is to overtake all the castles on the board by moving your troops into an empty castle and by overtaking your enemies position, all the while they attempt to do the same. Each map consists of a predetermined amount of days (each day is a set amount of real time) in which you have to conquer your enemy. At the end of the day the amount of reserve troops that you receive is determined by your success or lack thereof. This process is then repeated until victory or failure is obtained.
Where it fell flat.
The gameplay is easy to pick up, and each map poses a new set of problems that you have to adjust your strategy for to be successful. Simplicity can usually be a recipe for success if game designers can hit that sweet spot of easy to learn, difficult to master. Unfortunately, this is not the case for Castle Warriors. GameResort put together a great package of a good 3D engine and a solid core gameplay, where they had the chance to take some risks. Expanding the genre beyond choke points and unit management would have been nice to see, but the opportunity was missed. I also really felt that the game's sluggish controls and slower paced game speed detracted from the overall experience.
I've come up with a list of a few things I would love to see in a sequel or update:
1 ) Waypoints - I would have really liked to been able to determine where my reinforcements were sent. Instead I had to scroll back to the start of the map every time where very little of the battle was actually happening. This simple adjustment would have made for a bit more strategy at the start of each day.
2 ) Castle Upgrades - With certain castles being more strategic then others, giving me the ability between rounds to choose what castle got upgrades would have been great.
3 ) Troop types - Hook me up with some archers, knights and cavalry. An easy rock/paper/scissors setup would have been a nice adjustment to just a tap-tap spam strategy.
4 ) GUI - At points the game would lag a bit on my first gen touch and I would accidentally scroll past the amount of troops I wanted to send. It would have been nice to see it as an unique check-box per castle, this would allow for quick on the fly adjustments.
5 ) Multiplayer - This game type really benefits from a human opponent. Once you figured out the AI, the game became fairly simple and not overly compelling. I want to beat down my coworkers and friends, this also brings me back after I've finished the campaign.
6 ) Zoom out - I really wanted to pinch/zoom out on every map. Let me see the map from a 10,000 foot view for those times when the enemy sneaked behind my lines. Then let me double tap to zoom back in.
7 ) Game Speed - At times I found the game speed moved too slowly for the size of the maps. I even went into the game options to see if it was possible to speed the game up. (You can't)
8 ) Restart - Sometimes I make mistakes. Sometimes you make mistakes. Let us fix that by giving us a restart in the pause menu.
Even though I have been fairly harsh on the game, I think there is something good here at it's core. It just suffers from a few flaws that I feel really withdrew from the overall experience. As I mentioned in my opening, the RTS genre is very new on the iPhone and developers are still trying to find out what works, and what doesn't. I'd like to see some developers take a few risks and fall flat on their face, rather than playing it too safe like I felt Castle Warriors did here.
I'd like to see what they can do with a good update, or a sequel. I'd definitely revisit the game if some of the areas I brought up were addressed. In the end I give Castle Warriors 2.5 magic helmets out of 5.