As gamers we’re quite a spoiled bunch! Each passing month sees countless titles come and go, with each one begging for our attention for extended periods of time. It can become quite the gargantuan task figuring out which one to invest in next. With the year’s biggest titles right around the corner and a plethora of Indie titles each vying for their own place in our gaming hall of fame, finding the title most deserving can require some outside help. With that in mind I took a look at one of the store’s latest additions, Cannon Brawl, to see how it stacked up against the rest.
Having known nothing of Cannon Brawl before booting up, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Just a few levels in however and that had all changed. I knew what I was facing and it wouldn’t be plain sailing. Cannon Brawl is what I would expect if the classic and wacky Worms games were to be mashed together with the strategy heavy Command & Conquer titles.
The aim of the game is quite simple really. Destroy the Red castle and protect the Blue castle. The challenge however is everything in-between.
With three different game modes to sink your teeth into, Cannon Brawl has plenty to do. There is a campaign adventure for those looking for some single player mayhem as well as multiplayer for those looking to test their tactical skills online. There is also a one off battle against the A.I. filling the final game mode that’s perfect for some simple pick up and play gameplay.
The vast majority of the game is spent in the Adventure mode. This is the game’s campaign story, and it is here that you learn what everything does, how to play the game and why you are doing it in the first place. The story follows three main characters, with more coming into play as you progress. You begin proceedings as the king’s daughter, someone who is called upon to protect the king from the evil brother who wants to take the thrown for his own, and has gone as far as defeating his brother in battle to claim it. Charming!
The campaign pans across twenty stages, with an extra ten bonus areas available depending on the number of medals earned in battle. Each stage puts you in an airship on the left of the screen, along with a Blue castle belonging to the king – it is your job to protect it at all costs. This is done by placing various attack and defence based structures across the battlefield, such as turrets, lasers, missile launchers, shields and many other dangerous contraptions in order to ensure the king’s castle is safe from enemy attack.
At the same time however, your opponent, which is often one of the Uncles many minions, are doing the very same thing on the opposite side of the screen. To win the battle, players must destroy the opponent’s castle before they destroy yours. However with weapons and defences constantly in play this is no easy task. Cannon Brawl is an action-strategy game, and for those familiar with the genre you’ll know that generally means unless you have your wits about you, you’re in for a tough time as battle can start in as little as thirty seconds from the get go. Although that sounds like a fair amount of time to prepare, unless you’re frantically rushing to get everything in place from the first second you can find yourself staring at the screen of defeat within just a couple of minutes. Many times I found myself placing several shields and feeling safe, before looking over and practically seeing an entire army of contraptions on the opposite side of the screen ready to blow me away in seconds.
Strategy plays a vital role in Cannon Brawl and those going into battle with a plan up their sleeve will quickly find themselves in a much better position than I did after rushing straight in to attack. To place the various structures needed for battle however you must first obtain the amount of gold coins required to build them. Gold is given to the player every couple of seconds in very small amounts, but unless you want to be pulverised before even placing your first shield, you need to plan on how best to get more. Across the screen sits various gold deposits and chucking a mine onto one of these is the best way of granting yourself an increased cash flow early on. However, with gold being a precious commodity, gold mines are quickly attacked and without the required protection you can quickly find yourself without a coin to your name before you know it. Progression through the game sees more ways to gain coins in play with diamond deposits and banks adding a way to earn the big bucks quickly.
These coins aren’t only used for buying new structures however. If victory is all you desire then upgrading the structures out on the battlefield is the way to go. Each item placed has three possible stages, with each upgrade granting more health and more power, making shields stronger and more resistant to enemy attack, along with making the attacking structures a force to be reckoned with. Should you progress to the later stages then upgrades are a must to stand any chance of victory and with boss battles present at various stages throughout, you will need to ensure your machines are the best on the battlefield.
Should you find yourself besting your opponent, you’ll be taken to the result screen and this is where you see how many medals you’ve earnt. Each of the main stages has three medals available, one for victory, one for actions per minute and the last for speed. With 57 medals available and each one requiring a mostly different strategy to obtain, the completionists among you may find yourself going back to previous levels in order to grab every last one of them. However, only the victory medal is required to progress to the next stage. Progression sees new structures unlocked such as repair stations and banks as well as floating mountains and new characters to choose from. The characters aren’t just for looks either, with each one granting a fresh set of abilities from reduced weapon cooldown times, structure repairs every couple of minutes and extra shields included.
Should you have mastered the adventure then congratulations… BUT you’re not done yet!
No, not at all. Beating the game unlocks an even greater challenge in the form of Nightmare mode. Nightmare mode tasks you with taking on the game once more, but with an increased difficulty challenge. It is here in which I currently find myself stranded at the time of writing, as this mode is not for the feint hearted, offering a challenge unlike any you have experienced up to this point. With extra castles in each level, even wittier A.I and bosses intent on your destruction all included, those arriving unprepared will find themselves pushed back to basics in no time at all.
For those looking to boast their hard earned skills (or hide from the Nightmare mode), then multiplayer is the place for you. This offers both ranked and unranked play as well as the option for some local multiplayer madness. Taking everything from the single player portion of the game and throwing it into a competitive minefield of leaderboard climbing madness, multiplayer is perfect for the best of all Cannon Brawlers!
Outside of all the battling, players can spend all their XP in the armory on a number of new building structures such as a flamethrower, or a fortified mine, as well as a number of new battle fit characters only available from the armory. XP is earned by completing various challenges such as reaching a set number of medals on your adventure or winning battles with certain characters.
Despite the positives however, there is one major niggle found throughout the game. During my playthroughs, I have been slightly hampered by a number of crashes causing the game to reboot every now and again. Although this has caused nothing more than a minor inconvenience and a replay of the battle I was currently in, this issue for the moment at least is still prevalent. There is word that a patch is in the offing and I hope this fixes the crashing.
Overall though, Cannon Brawl is unique addition to the Xbox store and a worthy buy for anyone looking for a challenging addition to their game collection. For just £7.99 Cannon Brawl is a bargain buy for any fan of the genre.