E3 2012: CastleStorm Preview 0

LOS ANGELES — At first glance, CastleStorm may look like Angry Birds with knights and vikings, but after demoing the game at E3 this week, those similarities instantly flew out the window. In fact, boulders, grenades, and even sheep went flying as well.

The game’s creative director Neil Sorens calls CastleStorm an “archery real-time-strategy, physics-based destruction game,” and that actually describes it quite well. Each stage has different victory requirements, but the core gameplay consists of defending your castle while trying to take down the enemy’s as well. You can definitely feel some multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) elements integrated into the game because you’ll be doing various things at once, but because your troops are generated automatically, the game actually feels more like a hectic tower-defense game.

Your primary weapon includes a ballista that can catapult different projectiles towards the enemy’s castle. These shots can shatter your enemy’s castle if you aim correctly and shoot the same target enough times to break it. While you’re doing that, you’ll also need to focus on directing your ground-based troops like knights and archers to defend against enemy assault. Friendly fire is on as well, so you’ll need to be careful where you shoot.

CastleStorm gives you different missions with different objectives, so sometimes you’ll need to capture the flag from the enemy’s castle and bring it home, survive enemy assault, or simply be the first to destroy the enemy’s castle. The game rates you on your accuracy and timing, so a score system is also utilized so completionists can always go back and improve their scores.

One of the great features the game offers is a building mode that gives you the ability to create your own castle from scratch, positioning rooms anywhere you want. This grid system makes adding rooms easy, and some rooms will even affect how effectively troops will run out and attack. As you play through the game, you’ll be able to unlock more rooms and weapons that you can also then use during online matches.

What I really enjoyed about the game was its colorful presentation and the fact that there always seemed to be plenty of action going on on-screen. The game looks very busy, but there definitely seems to be layers of strategy and planning that give CastleStorm a nice depth to its gameplay. I can already imagine how popular its online mode will be with MOBA and tower-defense fans when the game comes out later this year.