Zen Studios are on a bit of a roll at the moment.
Not content with bringing Pinball FX2 over to Xbox One, but they then dropped a special edition of KickBeat and now they’ve brought us CastleStorm Definitive Edition.
You may have played the original CastleStorm on Xbox 360 but that shouldn’t mean you need to steer clear of the Xbox One version. The Definitive Edition brings all previously released content plus a shed load of new features to the next generation, promising to bring humour, strategy and above all else, excitement to your gaming sessions.
But should you go out and get castle destroying?
Of course you should, for there’s loads of content and many many hours of fun to be had from CastleStorm. What you’ll initially think you’re getting is a 2D physics based destroyer where the sole aim is to destroy the oppositions castle quicker than they can destroy yours and essentially, you’d be right. But whilst going about the business of destruction, you’ll find yourself fully involved in one of the finest tactical battles on Xbox One, whilst also throwing in a fair bit of one-on-one brawling and a great deal of tower defense elements into the equation.
Running through the single player game, there are four main options that you’ll find in front of you. The campaign sees you play as Sir Gareth as he attempts to help save his kingdom from being overrun by enemy forces and for the singular person, this is where you’ll spend the vast majority of your time. With a stunning number of separate levels and side missions (it’s gotta be around 50 at least), you’ll need to help the rather hapless Sir Gareth send the Kingdoms forces out to battle.
This is done in a number of ways. Before you start the level, you choose your castle and this in turn reflects which units you’ll have at your disposal. There are a number of default forts available and for the most part, these will suffice but if you fancy getting even more hands on, then things have been made easy enough for you to tweak and twiddle with your castle layout in order to get the troops you want onto the frontline. Like I say, initially the default castles that Zen have provided will be more than enough, but get into the later stages and you’ll find you may need to play around with your castle options to get the best out of an increasingly tough situation.
Once set, you and your troops go into battle, with you in control of who goes where, which projectiles are to be fired and which of the numerous spells you wish to drop on the enemy. Each action runs on a timer and so you’ll need to be savvy with your choices, and whilst it’s all well and good creating and sending the standard warriors and archers out to play, maybe holding back the real big guns like the aerial attack of the Griffin or the super powerful Guardian Spirit and getting them to strike at the prime moment is advantageous. All troops, spells and Heroes are nicely assigned to either the A, X or Y buttons and a quick hit of the bumpers sees you cycling through the different types with ease. It’s a control system that initially looks daunting but very quickly becomes second nature….and it needs to be in order to maximise your armies chances of victory.
But time isn’t your only consideration and in order to throw the troops onto the battlefield, you’ll need to ensure your castle is in fairly decent nick at all times, with a food source the most prized of rooms (without it, you won’t be able to respawn troops). Of course, as you’re sending the troops into battle, the enemy will be doing the exact same thing and they’ll also be focusing on knocking your castles rooms into oblivion at the same time.
It all turns into a super fun game of quickest finger first, whilst also requiring enough tactical nous so you don’t come away second best and is something that all works brilliantly. All weapons, troops, spells and castles can be upgraded rather extensively and this requires the accumulation of coins which get earned depending on how well you have fought your recent battles. Do well and you’ll find plenty of coinage available to spend at will…do badly though…..
Running through the campaign sees a story unfold that is full of humour but ultimately a little childish, and whilst that isn’t a bad thing, after a while the foolishness that occurs begins to grate a little. The gameplay itself is the real star of the show and whilst many will want to take in all the cutscenes and humourous moments, once you’re in a level, the story basically goes out of the window, as most transpire to be nothing more than a battle to the end, with a flag capture or castle demolition becoming the tipping point.
Aside from the campaign and there are three other game modes to get to grips with, all bringing a fair amount of varied gameplay to CastleStorm. Skirmish basically gives you the opportunity to play through some of the campaign levels again, without the worry of a story, but Survival and Hero Survival are the real big fun bringers.
As you can probably guess from the names, you play through increasingly difficult waves of enemies who are intent on one thing; capturing your flag. There is no enemy castle to destroy so instead you can focus all your efforts on the advancing troops. The bog standard Skimish see you take control of the crossbow set high aloft your castle and without a precise aim, you’ll quickly find yourself being over run by troops, especially as things progress into the higher waves of attackers. It all gets a bit hectic and you really do need to be on the ball if you wish to get any further through the waves.
And then Hero Survival takes you into a melee brawler in which you control your hero and your hero alone. You have no backup, so will need to be skilled with the sword and arrow if you are even contemplating last more than five minutes. Hero Survival is great fun alone, but even more so when teamed up with a friend.
Thankfully, CastleStorm Definitive Edition is set up nicely for both an online and indeed an offline multiplayer session. Whilst the campaign isn’t playable with others, a versus mode accompanies the survival and Hero survival options and you will happily find yourself thrust into a world of both competitive and cooperative gameplay. It really is great fun and as at time of writing, can’t think of anything that brings more of a laugh to the sometimes serious world of Xbox Live multiplayer. Mind you, there are occasionally issues with connecting to random players, but if you have a friend who also has the game (with family member sat next to you on the sofa, the screen splits on the horizontal), then you’ll struggle for a better time than that found in CastleStorm Definitive Edition.
Overall then and CastleStorm Definitive Edition is a worthy addition to the Xbox One digital catalogue. There’s plenty of single player action to get your teeth into (with both the DLC packs from the 360, ‘From Outcast to Savior’ and ‘Warrior Queen’ making their way over) and some super fun multiplayer action. Be aware though, if you don’t have a sofa friend or Xbox Live buddy, then you may just struggle to find too many people to match up with.
Which is a shame, because CastleStorm Definitive Edition really comes to life when played with a mate and these slightly annoying connection issues just stop it from gaining full marks.