Review | CastleStorm Xbox Live Arcade
Publisher: Zen Studios
Developer: Zen Studios
Rating: T for Teen
CastleStorm is, at it’s core, a tower defense game. And upon starting the game, I honestly didn’t much care for what was taking place on my screen. The Ballista controls were just horrid, and the games humor seemed to be aimed towards a younger crowd, despite the T for Teen rating. I even sent a text to one of the other writers here telling him how bad it all was and that he owed me something for playing this for all of you. However, as I got more into the game, I started to realize that it was a tower defense game, that had a few more things to offer. The game is actually fairly deep, and just a bit silly (where else can you hurl exploding apples). Things are easy to pick up and play, and you get your training, so to speak, as you progress through the game.
The plot of the game is pretty simple. a battle between knights and vikings has raged on for far to long. Once an uneasy peace is achieved, thanks to some gems literally cried by a goddess, things are well and all prosper.. But no peace can be maintained, and it is not long before those pesky vikings are looking to storm your castle and take your flag. So charged by King Edgar with protecting your realm for huge rewards, the player takes control of Sir Gareth, and sets out to do just that.
Gareth is given a whole host of items, weapons, and different soldier classes to help in his defense/offense. Things ranging from the aforementioned hard to control ballista, to a bow and arrow for when Gareth has to face the enemies head on. There is no shortness of customization available here. Players are even given the ability to upgrade the weapons that they do have in order to better defend their castle.
I said in the opening paragraph that CastleStorm was a tower defense game, and that is true, but it doesn’t stop there. CastleStorm takes a bit of Angry Birds, a bit of castle defense, and mixes it up with RPG elements, and a bit of good old fashioned hack & slash game play. It is a bit of a risk to mix so many different elements into one game, but it actually works here. Everything seems to come together for a satisfying experience.
The game, for the most part is easy to pick up and play. As I said, you will be given training on new weapons, and how to deploy your troops as you go along. The thing that really brings down the opening part of the game is the ballista. Getting this dang thing to aim where I needed it to got to be quite a chore. It offers a trajectory guide, but the line used is such a faint white line that it is easy to lose track of in all the chaos that ensues. Beyond that, the controls all work pretty efficiently. Once things get rolling, I found myself not having a problem switching between releasing some of my army, and my ballista, and the other things to do in the game, spells and whatnot. There is even a button to tell your troops to duck down so that they don’t take the brunt of your arsenal when firing the ballista.
So you are well taken care of as far as armaments, which is good considering the host of different enemies and goals to reach. It all comes down to two things, protect your castle & protect your flag. No matter what enemy the game throws at you, whether it be archers, or swordsman, or dire wolves, you must protect your castle long enough to destroy the enemy’s.
CastleStorm also offers gamers the ability to build their own castles. Pretty much like a set of Legos, you add rooms, and fortify your castle making sure it holds up to the assault about to be delivered. Your castle doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be better than your opponents. As you can see in the picture below, there are plenty of things to add to your castle in order to help you out.
The game also offers multiplayer online, and locally. Things run pretty smoothly during the online sessions, but be forewarned, make sure you know what you are doing control-wise, before you try to take it to the ranked matches. I went in and tried a game after the first couple of levels in the single player campaign, and was handily defeated by a group of knights on horseback stealing my flag….
Overall, the game offers a satisfying experience for fans of tower defense. It is easy enough to pick up and play, but becomes better as you learn the controls of the game. Aside from the bad control on the ballista, everything works pretty smoothly.
Final Score: 3.5 out of 5