Wednesday, September 24, 2014

CastleStorm: Definitive Edition (PS4)

Longtime fans of the 'Worms', and 'Angry Birds' franchises can now rejoice knowing that a new competitor to the genre has re-emerged on the Playstation 4 console in an all inclusive definitive edition. The Monty Python style ballista shooting arcade game makes a triumphant return with enhanced graphics, all of the former DLC, and some new features exclusive to the PS4 gaming experience. You'll find Sir Gareth, and his king once again trying to thwart Rufus's plan to lead the opposing viking hordes to victory. You'll meet tons of wacky characters in plenty of silly cutscenes as the plot thickens in more ways than one. You'll even get to utilize Zen Studio's own unique brand of weaponry as you try to keep your own kingdom stronghold (aka, castle) intact. There's plenty to do, and perfection to achieve should one be brave enough to take the challenge head-on. While the gameplay remains same as before you will find that this definitive edition lives up to it's name, and that it is aimed at the audience who might have missed out the first time around.

Taking inspiration from games like 'Angry Birds', and 'Worms' developer Zen Studios breathes life into this tale about warring factions known only as knights, and vikings. After having nearly wiped each other out on the battlefield the knight's, and the viking's future was looking bleak, and rather hopeless. Luckily for them the onlooking peace goddess had shed some gem-like tears which not only stopped the war, but gave each side that took up a gem an exceptionally long life. As one might guess though this era of peace that followed the shedding of the goddess's tears was short lived as a certain individual seeking power sought to gain possession of the gems for himself. Of course this is where the knightly Sir Gareth steps in. Being the head of the knight's order Sir Gareth, as stupid as he may be, took on his knightly duty to serve, and protect his kingdom. Through ballista projectiles, summoned troops of various types, and hands-on combat he aimed to bring the fight to the enemy. Along with aid of the trustworthy Friar Vik, and a Viking Princess he did just that.

As Sir Gareth, the hero of the show, you will be manning all sorts of weaponry, and tools of destruction as you take on the enemies before you. There are several modes of play including 'Campaign', 'Skirmish', 'Multiplayer', and 'Hero Survival' in which you can test your skills as a leader of men ... and sometimes women. In the 'Campaign' mode you will be fulfilling mission objectives, and taking on optional side-missions in order to build a better castle, fund your troops, upgrade your weaponry, and take on the waves of enemies before you. The missions, and side-missions that are provided in a sequential order come with a wide variety of objective based combat scenarios that range from single-handed battles as Sir Gareth himself to objectives that require him to destroy an enemy's castle, or even wipe out an entire army. Your skills in each case are judged based on a 5-star rating system that takes in account your aiming accuracy, the time spent on said mission, and other decisive factors. As such winning is not the only important thing you'll be tasked with doing.

As you take command of your military options you will have to play it smart, and use all three sets of battlefield functions including the use of troops, spells, and ballista projectiles. Even Sir Gareth is a weapon in the war against the vikings. With each set of battle features comes a select number of action choices that have limited/timed usage. As you progress, and win the battles at hand though more options, and features will be made available to you which can be tweaked to your liking via the game's in-depth menu system. You'll find that you are limited to five types of troops at a time as well as five spells. This set limitation will definitely force you to manage each battlefield situation wisely. Of course with all these tools also comes RPG style upgrades which will make your kingdom soldiers a force to be reckoned with. Even Sir Gareth can be leveled up with enough coin.

Aside from weaponry you'll find that castle protection, and management is also a very crucial part of the game. In some instances, outside of the archery only, and 'Hack 'n Slash' missions you'll be tasked with guarding your castle, and it's castle gate while blasting away at your opponent's castle, and troops. As such castle structure, and improvements must be made continuously throughout your playthrough. Through the game's castle editor you can construct your castle to your liking with a variety of different troop barracks, rooms of enhancement, and standard structures that will fortify the stronghold, and make it stand for longer. In the missions where the objective is to level your opponent's castle before they level your's you must do exactly that. Sending out troops to deal with the vikings, or knights while you man the ballista, and utilize your spells is a must if you hope to come out of the fray victorious. learning to switch between battle options on the fly is also a must, but is an easy mechanic to pick up on, even for first timers. You'll basically be using the assigned face buttons (SQUARE, TRIANGLE, CIRCLE, X) for selecting the different types of battle options, and will follow up with a second press of the same button once you have selected your desired sub-option with the 'R1', and 'L1' buttons. Combat, and defensive strategies definitely go hand in hand in this arcade game hybrid.

Without further rehashing everything that I've already said in my original review (CastleStorm) I'll tell you that everything pretty much stayed the same as before. The 'Skirmish', multiplayer, and 'Hero Survival' all remained the same along with the additional sets of DLC that were released after the core game. With that being said though there are a few neat little differences that set this version apart from the XBLA release that I initially covered. One thing you'll definitely notice while playing is that Zen Studios has incorporated the PS4's controller voice function as an optional part of the game. While some might find this annoying it's actually pretty cool. Along with this new inclusion also comes upgraded graphics, and a soundtrack that seems more epic than it was before. I'm not entirely sure, but I think Zen Studios might have added to the game's soundtrack in this re-release. Other than those things you're basically getting an all inclusive experience. Hence the title, "CastleStorm Definitive Edition".

The Verdict ...

After giving this game praise the first time you can bet your bottom dollar I'm going to praise this game again. Unlike the previously reviewed 'KickBeat", CastleStorm is arcade style gaming done right. The game has got a heck of a lot of content to play through, and perfect. Not only that, but this is the one instance outside of 'Zen Pinball 2' that Zen studios has shown that they can do other things in the field of gaming development, and do them right. Everything from the provided tutorials to the mechanics, and even the modes of play work perfectly. Even the provided Monty Python-like humor really makes the game shine. I'd say that this game outdoes 'Angry Birds' by a longshot, and is on par with the 'Worms' franchise. It's like the perfect storm, only in glorious video game form. I cannot stress enough how fun this game is. If you missed it the first time do yourself a huge favor, and give it a go this time around. Remember that this is the 'Definitive Edition", so you'll be getting the core game along with the DLC. Don't miss out!!!

Be sure to check out my original review of CastleStorm for all the juicy in-depth details!

CastleStorm (XBLA) -

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