With a snappy name like SiegeCraft Commander, my mind boggled with what might be included here. It turned out that Blowfish Studios, the independent developer of this title delivers a fun looking real time strategy game with both single player campaign and multiplayer action. One that game me a few surprises with my time putting this SiegeCraft Commander Review together.
Now you’ve probably seen the words RTS and either decided to run to the hills or started to dig your trenches for war. Maybe it’s not your thing placing little buildings in hexagons and watching the little fellas war against nearby little fellas. But look again, I suggest you take this moment to stick with this review and find out how it’s different and what this game has to offer you.
Whilst the games roots are deep in strategy dirt, this game has comedy and cutesy looking graphics to add to your enjoyment. This combined with a fun shooting system to keep testing your accuracy. Check out my thoughts below and drop me a Disqus Comment at the end if you feel like getting this one.
Look and Feel – “TNT, but is it dynamite?”
The game tackles the RTS elements of the title with healthy doses of comedy from its story, which essentially is the ongoing tactical discussion from your combat advisors and specialists.
The graphics follow an almost cartoony style that fits in with the comedy theme and the different forces fit in well with the environments. The environments have pleasant backgrounds, with some non usable areas that require thought to avoid.
I found the music suited the game style and on more than one occasion I found the music adding to the excitement of the game. The game formula uses a domino’s type deployment requiring careful aiming of a crossbow mechanism to deploy your building empire. It’s a combination of strategy decision making with some quick firing deployment. Destroy your enemy, clear the map and your given building a cartoon cut scene reminds you that the battle continues on and it’s on to the next map.
The game handles well with many buildings and troops are being churned out of barracks and sent into battle. I’ve not managed to find a cap on buildings or units in the game yet and careful placements will avoid problems. Given that the battlefield can be rotated and zoomed out to a degree does allow a good view of the whole proceeding, but you can’t help feeling that sometimes it’s difficult to select certain buildings.
“Empires can take ages to look this nice”.
Overall the game looks nice, it’s fun to look at and more than one person walking past my TV asked what I was playing. On one occasion I had an audience with comments like “what’s going on with those guys on the beach? They’re getting slaughtered”.
I move the camera and check to find that an enemy anti infantry weapon has popped up and is slaughtering my troops like Saving Private Ryan. The AI of the story campaign follows a similar approach that you often end up mirroring to be successful, most of the time you have a small advantage in the tech tree with slightly better weapons. I’m sure that at some point in the campaign it will balance out.
The campaign story has a solid tutorial that leads you into the game where it explains how new buildings and equipment work and how to use them. If you’re in doubt you can pull up the tech tree and find out more about a particular building if needed.
Story and Gameplay – “Crossbows, catapults, and cows!”
There’s a standard campaign mode that allows the choice of several factions. The campaign starts with a historic story driven narrative showing some tom foolery resulting in your hero crash landing on a lush green plane surrounded by mountains and trees. It is at this point that the story / tutorial commences with amusing dialogue between your chosen hero and their assistants as you start to build your empire.
Now I use the term build very loosely as you building tool is a huge wrecking ball that’s fired from a catapult. You select your chosen building type which is usually an outpost, aim and fire. A line of wall follows the deployment of the wrecking ball, it hits the ground and your outpost is built. But beware, miss aiming will result in failure and the wreaking ball can damage other units.
It is a wrecking ball after all isn’t it?
You continue deploying your line into empty areas to build new or outposts, then these are upgrade to have a specific function. Whilst this is all happening your enemy, in my case the lizard men start to attack. Lucky for you all your outposts can fire TNT from a catapult to rain death on your enemies.
But hold on to your horses! This is all happening at the same time? You betcha! This is a game that’s solidly within the genre of RTS (Real time strategy) which if your not used to this is basically your ability to micro manage lots of things at once and choose what’s more important.
Is it stopping the onslaught of dragons by researching a ground to air upgrade to your keep or bombing your enemies keep back to the stone age with lots of TNT? Both are equally important, but TNT is more satisfying. The basics of the game are relatively simple with a scissor, paper, stone mechanic of using the right keep to beat the right attacking troops.
But wait all my empire just went up in smoke? Damn those lizard men sappers, they destroyed one of my outposts causing all the others down the line to collapse. So plan your empire with care!
Having ventured into the human campaign and both the lizard man campaign the gradual introduction of new buildings and weapons is a game changer by bringing in new strategy that has to be learnt. For example, unlocking the tech tree from workshops all the building of trebuchet weapons with increased range and destructive power.
After a few minutes play you start to realise that the strategy requires a mix of play style to be successful. The placement of your outpost lines require thought otherwise you run out of space and your TNT will fall short of damaging enemy outposts. Your aim with the crossbow style firing mechanism improves overtime and there several control scheme to choose from which allow speedy firing vs accurate firing. But essentially there’s a good mix between strategy and quick firing that’s required to be successful.
So what makes it fun, well if you remember the movie tron, sorry another 80’s reference. The light cycles? Remember those fun things?. Each outpost you build has a wall of light that pulses in light back to your starting stronghold. At the end of the line of outposts you have to build more lines of light by adding more outposts to cross the map. But be careful Flynn, the enemy troops and outposts will try and break your line of light that connects your outposts.
Breaking the line of outposts and buildings will result in the destruction of any other buildings further down the line. Kaboom goes your last ten minutes of building.. this theme of being always near the front of your building helped to create a tense feeling of urgency and sometimes you can’t protect everyone at once.
Ah ha! Boom! All your bases now explode because you were focussing your attention some where on the map.
Whilst this can be a painful lesson you start to realise that you need to build with contingency and safely to avoid lots of loss. As most of the time the fighting tend to occur near where you are focussing unless your fighting a war on more than 1 front! This all adds to flavour of the game.
Throwing rocks at thy friends er… enemy..
There’s 2 types of multiplayer available that support online play, first is RTS mode which mirrors.
Gameplay from the campaign and a turn based variant that plays a much slower my turn, your turn type play. Both support quick play drop in match style and also campaign play. During this review multiplayer servers were not available.
There’s also a customisable multiplayer section to allow you change your online commander setup and tech tree preferences. A mode that’s quite fun against friends online, with plenty of opportunities to crush your enemies and annoy your friends at the same time.
At my signal unleash hell, after reading instructions booklet.
In general the control scheme works with the speed required to navigate the building menus, choose what you need spin the crossbow, aim and choose where it gets built. If you get sloppy on the crossbow firing you can waste precious time and have to relaunch as your building line either collides with another placement or apiece of terrain.
On occasion you get the feeling that the screen isn’t panning as fast you require it when your about to lose an outpost, but that adds urgency and panic to the game play. There’s several control modes that allows the commander to decide which button preferences they prefer to use to control your weapon aiming. I found the precision mode more favourable as it splits the controls for direction and elevation over multiple buttons.
But i suggest you have a play around with them to see what suits you.
Overall – Crush your enemies. See them driven before you
In summary i enjoyed the game, yes i like RTS games so i guess thats an advantage but i strongly believe that if your tempted to dip into the RTS genre then this might be a good game to start with.
It’s funny and light hearted, at the same time the game has you thinking on your toes, it’s not too demanding in the strategy department but has an onion skin level of detail that you gradually peel back to expose more strategy and gameplay. With the inclusion of online multiplayer this game has good replay value and I’m sure it would hilarious to play against your friends.
It is for these reasons i believe this game could appeal to wide range of gamers. What’s not to like about controlling siege artillery and flinging cows at your enemies.