Some game genres just don’t translate well into the world of mobiles and tablets. Without a doubt, real time strategy is one of those genre. Can you imagine trying to micro-manage a pair of StarCraft 2 zerglings using nothing more than a touchscreen? To put it simply, mobile gaming devices just don’t have enough buttons or visible play space to accommodate real-time combat between two massive armies.
Unless, of course, you take all of the complicated mechanics out of managing an army by putting your soldiers on autopilot.
By combining real-time combat with a heaping dose of tower defense, Arcticmill has brought epic war campaigns to our Android devices with Castle Raid 2. Building your army in this fairly in-depth game will be familiar territory for the RTS players out there. You have a base, and you spend resources to build units with varying powers and abilities from that base. Nothing particularly revolutionary, right?
But as soon as your soldiers, elven archers, knights, and wizards magically teleport into existence, it becomes clear that this isn’t your typical RTS. You essentially have no control over your units; they will mindlessly run across the battlefield and begin smacking the first enemy they encounter. I realize that this hands-off approach to combat might seem like a turn off to hardcore RTS fans out there, but it’s actually quite liberating. Since there’s no need to worry about micromanaging troops, you can take a step back and focus on the big picture. You have to figure out if you should build soldiers to chop those enemy archers to ribbons, or if your peasants can make it to the resource node and back without becoming warg food.
The relatively fast pace ensures that there’s almost always something to do. Sure, there will occasionally be moments where you have to twiddle your thumbs as you wait for your resources to accumulate, but Castle Raid 2 comes with two towers that can fill those empty seconds. Players can launch a variety of spells, missiles, and siege weapons from the towers to support their troops on the battlefield. The result is an interesting hybrid of active and passive combat interactions. The vast majority of bloodshed will come from your troops doing what they do best, but many battles will be decided by the shrewd use of support artillery.
Beyond that, the game has a variety of maps with plenty of battlefield goodies to keep things interesting. On one map you might have to fight to take a bridge, while on other maps you’ll have the opportunity to take fortified guard positions where archers increase their range and damage. My favorite maps are the ones with resource barriers. There might be a resource node tantalizingly close to your base, but you need to send out soldiers to chop down the barrier blocking the way before you can start farming it.
One of the best features of Castle Raid 2 is how beautifully it supports PVE and PVP gameplay. The story mode comes equipped with a cartoony, comic book style artwork depicting toothy orcs, big-headed warriors, and an extremely hairy king who obviously means business. Alternatively, players looking for a true challenge can fight against their buddies in a head-to-head match on the same device. Trust me: playing against your buddies will leave you scrambling to pump out units. The built-in AI is competent, but it doesn’t come close to offering the same level of competition that you’ll get out of another player. Luckily, the game includes a handicap option so that new players stand a chance against veterans.
My only real complaint is that there isn’t enough of it. I’d love to see more levels (20 stages makes for a woefully short campaign), and at least twice as many units. Where are the catapults and hulking war beasts? Why can’t I unleash a massive dragon that stomps across the battlefield and ignites enemy towers? If Arcticmill had only spent a bit more time filling out Castle Raid 2, I would have gladly given this game a solid 5.0. That’s a minor concern, though. Between the simple yet tactical gameplay, the clever mix of active and passive combat, the endearing graphics and sound, and the robust multiplayer, Castle Raid 2 is a must-download for fans of RTS and tower defense games alike.
Yes. Orc-slaying fun.
Castle Raid 2 delivers the fun of RTS and tower defense into bite-sized, five-minute games. Grab a friend for the head-to-head mode, though, because the one-player campaign is woefully short.