Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Flock! XBLA | Review (Updated with Game Deal)

***Update: As of this writing, you can get Flock [Online Game Code] on Amazon for only $10, a $5 savings over the 1200 microsoft point equivalent on the marketplace.***

Flock! is a game I approached with great trepidation. At first, the very though of herding sheep, cows and other barnyard animals with a UFO, had me giddy with glee. When the game finally did come out, I never got around to picking it up, just had the demo. Playing through that first, I initially wanted to review the game based purely off a demo. Well that's a gaming review 'no-no', so I quickly decided if the game's going to be judged, it has to be judged on it's full merits.

It was shortly after that my team came through with a review code of Flock! I had to shake the initial feeling the demo left with me, not that it was a bad game in any way, I just sorta rushed through the demo due to lack of time. Now I've finally sat down with the final game, and I have been quite pleasantly surprised even more than I thought I could be. It's not perfect, in fact far from it, but the cartoony, patchwork graphics, the light-hearted feel, the unique gameplay and the fact that it's loaded with over 50 levels to begin with, and a robust level-editor that you earn "pieces" along the way to build your own levels, puts this XBLA (and for full disclosure, PSN and PC) release as a shiny gem amongst other shiny gems.

As previously mentioned, as you progress from level to level, trying to rank in the Gold, Silver or Bronze metal bonuses, you earn more tools and assets in which you can use with the level editor. This way of earning what you can use is most recently reminiscent of Little Big Planet, where you can go through each level, gathering stickers, parts, etc to build your own levels. Like LBP as well, you can share your custom created landscapes with others! It's fostering a community that will keep your game being played for months and hopefully years to come!

Though the game is simplistic in nature, it suffers a bit in the control department. Not necessarily a fault of the game, but the learning curve is a bit higher than one would expect, as you learn the different behaviors of the sheep, bulls, and chickens. It can be a frustrating experience when you think you have them heading in the right direction and the next thing you know, they're caught up on something or you've inadvertantly pushed them in the wrong direction. But you SWEAR you were behind them. It's this occasional frustration that will likely have your throwing your controller at the wall. I wonder, how would this game hold up on the Wii? Dare I say the control of the Wii-mote might lend itself to more precise UFO grazing? Ah, but then I'd have to get a Wii to play.

Check out the Official game trailer!

Bottom Line (7 out of 10). A quirky game, filled with unique puzzles and patch-work environments, all wrapped up with a full level-editor gives this new title something for most. That being said, you'll probably decide whether you like it based purely off the demo, and I urge you to not let that be your deciding factor, as the play-curve is much more natural with the full game.

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