Siegecraft brings something unique to defense games, but ultimately feels dull
Those darn invaders. Just when you sit down to enjoy a nice cup of coffee and a newspaper, they always show up to batter the front gate. They're reliable like clockwork, that way. Of course that means you have to put everything down, man the siege weaponry, and remove your enemies from the medieval gene pool. As enjoyable as this task sounds, the new iOS game Siegecraft does its best to suck the joy out of skewering folks with giant crossbow bolts or flattening them with catapult ammunition.
The game takes place in a vaguely western fantasy setting that is populated with a lot of ne'er-do-wells like forest robbers, Vikings, zombies, and giants (to name a few), all of whom would like nothing better than to crash your party. The exact rationale for these invasions isn't given, though I'm assuming that someone hasn't been sharing the secret recipe for their famous barbecue sauce..
This is a defense game that has you manually controlling two different siege weapons: an oversized crossbow and a catapult. As enemies march across the land and towards your weaponry, you have to touch said firearm and draw back to aim/fire. A targeting aid helps you figure out where your shot will land, much in the same way that a laser pointer would.
Each level has a series of challenges (accuracy, speed, and score) that, if met, earn in-game gold. Additionally, you can earn gold at an accelerated rate by turning off the targeting assistance. The gold can be spent on new ammunition types and weapon upgrades. However, earning the gold the old-fashioned way is extremely slow going, so you'll probably be tempted to just shell out some real cash for the virtual coinage.
There's no question that Siegecraft is well-made, but it often feels way too slow and uneventful to actually be fun. On top of that, the game's mechanics are just frustrating at times. The targeting reticule often feels overly twitchy and it's somewhat painful to aim when making long distance shots.
There are a couple of other problems when it comes to aiming the game's weapons. First and foremost, there's the fact that the crossbow doesn't really deal well with any sort of elevated terrain. As a result, there are certain levels where the crossbow just doesn't seem to serve any purpose other than to target enemies who have gotten too close (though, by that point, the battle may very well be over). Additionally, if you happen to pull your finger back too far and move it off the edge of the screen (easy to do, since the weapons are close to the edge already), they'll automatically fire, even if you haven't finished aiming.
Aside from the single-player campaign, there are two multiplayer modes: split-screen and online. Split-screen is certainly entertaining, pitting you and a friend against one another via a top-down view. Online, meanwhile, needs a little time to get more players online.
Visually, the game looks magnificent on the iPhone. It features lovely 3D graphics that create sweeping landscapes populated with friendly knights, plodding livestock, sturdy architecture, and lumbering enemies. That said, the camera doesn't rotate and it's sometimes hard to notice things going on farther off in the distance. Also, on the iPad's larger screen, things look a bit fuzzy and much of the characters' movements appear stiff and ungainly.
The sound is fine, not really doing much to stand out. The music is servicable, often featuring vaguely threatening tones in order to heighten the mood, but it occasionally seems to cut out at random, particularly on the iPad. There were three different times when the game would start up on the device and no music would play, though the other sound effects worked without a hitch.
Siegecraft's main problem is that it just isn't fast-paced enough to be exciting or fun. Instead, it's got some cool ideas that don't quite seem to come together, mainly because of some sloppy execution. As it stands, the game isn't bad, but it'll need a little polish before it really works.
- Looks great on the iPhone. Easy-to-use and learn mechanics. Split-screen multiplayer is fun.
- Music seems to have issues with reliably working on the iPad. Graphics look a little fuzzy on the iPad. Too slow to really be fun. Aiming weapons for long shots is difficult to do.