Review: Siegecraft Commander
StarCraft meets Worms. Let that sink in for a little bit.
Good? Great. Siegecraft Commander comes from Australian developers Blowfish Studios. According to their website, this is the latest in a series of Siegecraft games. It’s the first one I’ve heard of, and I’m glad I got the opportunity to spend some time with it for review. Though I started with the tried and true ‘mash two older games together to get a new one’ formula, I have to admit that Siegecraft Commander felt refreshingly new while I was playing it. It’s a real-time strategy game with barely any resource management. Simultaneously, it’s an artillery game, a genre probably best described by simply mentioning the Worms franchise. I didn’t expect such a mashup to work well, but Siegecraft Commander proves itself as a worthwhile experience.
The core gameplay in Siegecraft revolves around building and upgrading a base of connected towers, all the while amassing an army capable of destroying your opponent’s Keep. You see, the Keep is the root of all of your structures. At the beginning of each game, it’s all you have to start with. According to the rules of the game, if a structure is destroyed, all structures that connect back to that root structure are also destroyed. You’ll always have to keep that in mind while branching outwards. Playing as the knights (there is also a tribe of magical lizards to play as), a logical opening is to start creating Outposts. Here’s where the game gets interesting. To build an Outpost, you select it on a radial menu that pops up around your Keep and fling it in any direction. As long as the Outpost strikes flat, acceptable land, it is built with a wall connecting it to the Keep. From here, you can start building Ballistas to defend against aerial attacks, a Workshop and a Barracks to start pumping out ground melee units, or any number of other buildings that lead to different strategies. The ‘Tech Tree’, which shows what each structure is capable of doing and how to get to it, is available to check out from any building. Most buildings also have the ability to chuck TNT, which straight up deals damage to whatever it hits as opposed to creating a linked building.
As you start branching out of your starting position, you’ll soon notice that on the same playing field, at least one opponent is doing the same. The fact that there is no fog of war is one major design difference between Siegecraft Commander and most RTS games that have come before it. All players have 100% vision of the playing field. The only drawback to looking around is that you actually have to navigate your vision, so to speak, which means you can’t also be working on your base. Another separation from the norm is that there aren’t really resources to manage in Siegecraft. There are predetermined spots on the map that have a Gold or Crystal nugget stuck in them. If you construct a building close to these spots, you’ll be able to unlock and make use of a few extra buildings/units. For example, the Armory can always build a Trebuchet (long-range TNT tosser), but requires you to have control over a Gold spot in order to build an Airship (mobile TNT tosser). This is one of the main reasons why Siegecraft Commander works on consoles. I feel like gathering resources is one of those mechanics that doesn’t work well with a controller, even if you can ‘point and click’ with the Move controller. I remember being severely underwhelmed by Under Siege, a PS3 Move RTS game that just didn’t control anywhere near as well as a similar experience would on PC.
Siegecraft Commander cuts a lot of the fat from a complicated genre recipe and the result is a more casual, more fun experience. It’s not perfect; I did experience some technical glitches here and there. There’s some nasty screen tearing that occurred maybe twice in my half a dozen hours with the game. (It can be seen in one of the YouTube videos uploaded to our channel.) When Curtis and I played the turn-based combat mode online, there were a few turns where my Airships would not fire at all. Curtis’s Ballistas failed to take down a few of my TNT barrels, even though the Ballistas were clearly not in cooldown. It was slightly annoying but not enough to detract from the fun we were having. We also played a few games of the real-time mode, and I think this is where the game shines most. In real-time, there’s an exciting tug of war battle going on between all players. You’re constantly fighting for ground on at least one front whilst planning some secretive back-alley attack from another front. There were many times where I would be focusing on one point of the map, only to have Curtis hit one of my well-connected Outposts, causing half of my base to fall like dominoes. My go-to strategy of massing Airships was balanced by the fact that the multiplayer maps have large obstructions that block the ships’ travel. The online mode has a progression system that allows you to upgrade your commander and earn passive perks (Ballistas cooldown is shortened by 5%, for example). There wasn’t much of a community while I was playing the game (pre-release), but since it apparently supports cross-platform play with Steam players, I’ll undoubtedly be spending some time slugging it out with players across the globe. The game also sports a split-screen multiplayer option for up to four people, which is something I always appreciate.
In all, Siegecraft Commander is a great game. Is melds RTS, Artillery, and Tower Defense games in such a way as to make a fun, accessible console strategy experience. The single-player campaign is long enough to get your money’s worth, but if you have friends to play with, I highly recommend picking this title up. PS Plus members can purchase it on sale for $13.99 during the two weeks following its release.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Lean RTS experience
- Music tracks are all great
- Real-time multiplayer is a blast
What I Dislike:
- Turn-based multiplayer is not conducive to the rest of the game's design
- Some technical glitches