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Slow mentality

Product: Siegecraft | Developer: Blowfish Studios | Publisher: Crescent Moon Games | Format: Android | Genre: Action | Players: 1 | File size: 97.8MB | Version: Europe
Siegecraft Android, thumbnail 1
Sieges in mediaeval times were far more boring that you might think.

While the films would have you believe they were all about towers on wheels packed with soldiers, or brutal combatants scaling walls with ladders, half the time it was just a bunch of soldiers camped outside waiting for the inhabitants to give up through starvation.

Unfortunately, Siegecraft has more in common with the dull part of siege warfare than with the exciting part. Despite the presence of the mighty catapult and ballista, it's a game that misses more than it hits.

Your mother was a hamster

In each of Siegecraft’s missions, you’re given control of a catapult, ballista, or both and tasked with destroying stationary or moving targets to complete your objective.

These objectives range from taking out a convoy of vikings and destroying an invading army to smashing a hole in a castle and ensuring your own troops make their way in unharmed.

You can’t reposition your siege engines. Instead, you concentrate on firing the shots, with both weapons of war controlled by pulling back and letting go, much in the same way as the infamous angry birds.

Of course, things are made a little more complicated than Rovio’s crowning moment by the introduction of the third dimension. Not only do you have to get the strength right, but also the direction.

And your father smelt of elderberries

It all sounds good fun - like a digital version of the oft-forgotten Crossbows and Catapults boardgame - and, indeed, the excellent graphics, with detailed running streams and exaggerated soldiers, make a great first impression.

But developer Blowfish Studios hasn’t quite got the balance right, in terms of both gameplay and controls. Firing into an often isometric viewpoint is tricky to judge, so guidelines are activated by default (with the option of earning extra coins if you want to disable them).

However, it’s far too easy with the guidelines switched on, and frustratingly awkward without them.

The mission design doesn’t help, either, with most levels moving at a pace that could be charitably described as ‘slow as hell’.

Far too many levels rely on simply grinding your way past a certain number of foes, especially during the early stages. And some of the later ones (such as storming the aforementioned castle) are so obviously unfair thanks to overly harsh spawn times that they turn into boring slogs.

Brothers in arms

Thankfully, the two-player split-screen mode on the iPad goes some way to fixing the single-player’s issues, with a variety of game modes like King of the Hill helping to inject some much-needed pace into proceedings.

It’s a shame, then, that the iOS 5-only online multiplayer is a bit of a damp squid by comparison. It’s asynchronous, which is obviously a neat feature, but it just involves you firing a limited number of rocks at stationary targets.

Oh, and if your opponent spent money on in-app purchases like triple-firing catapults, then you’ve lost before you begin. There’s nothing inherently wrong with IAPs, but ones that give a player an unfair advantage in a paid-for game’s multiplayer mode are likely to annoy.

All of which mean Siegecraft ends up being a bit of a disappointment.

There’s certainly potential in the idea, and the occasional moments where you rip apart large fortifications in all their graphical splendor are great fun, but don’t be surprised if your mind wanders while you wait for your catapult to reload for the hundredth time.
Reviewer photo
Will Wilson | 20 October 2011
A good idea and attractive visuals, but the lack of pace, action, and some iffy in-app purchases means Siegecraft ends up as slow and drawn-out as the real thing
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