XBLA Review: FLOCK!
April 21, 2009 by Adam Waddilove
Rounding up sheep in a UFO? Well now I’ve heard it all…
When I first played Flock, I was a little confused. Sure, the myths of animal abductions over the years would make some sense, but wouldn’t it make more sense for the game just to suck the sheep up in the UFO you fly? I then realised that if they did that then the game would become incredibly easy and that’s one thing that Flock definitely isn’t.
Flock is more or less a combination of Lemmings and Worms; it has that feel to it. Levels are nice and varied and the idea is to force the sheep onto the mothership at one section of the level. It sounds like a really simple game and in some ways it is, but the levels can be complex so simply forcing the sheep to go the direction you want isn’t enough. You have to manipulate the levels using the UFO like moving logs to create paths for the sheep to cross.
The first few levels are easy, but then it becomes increasingly difficult and frustrating, but in the way puzzle games do. It will annoy you, it will drive you mad and make you curse Capcom for making another tough game, then you’ll calm down and realise that it’s a damn good one, even if it isn’t one of their better ones.
The main problem for me has to be the expensive price tag of 1200 Microsoft Points. Sure, you get a handful of single player levels, a great level editor and the ability to share them with people, but the only multiplayer is local and for a game of this price…it just doesn’t seem justified. 800 Points might have sufficed, but 1200 is just too much for what Flock offers and that’s reflected in the overall score, sadly.
Another thing that stands in Flock’s way is that despite introducing the odd new move as you progress, the gameplay remains mostly the same and as a result, repetitiveness becomes inevitable. You don’t want the game to become samey, but after a while that’s what happens, I’m not saying that you won’t still enjoy it after hours of playing it, just that it all becomes a bit second nature…which is never a good thing.
The level editor is easy to use and perhaps where I found myself enjoying the game most. Mostly because you can make a totally crazy level just to attempt to complete it or send it to a friend and drive them insane as they try to do it. Either way, it’s a great addition and a feature that almost redeems the game as a whole.
Flock has a nice charm to it, even though it’s not as great as it was probably intended. It doesn’t have that whimsical feel to it, I’m not exactly sure what kind of charm it has…but it is there, it’s just difficult to put into words. It’s a game that won’t necessarily appeal to everyone, I personally didn’t enjoy it for the few first hours and then I became hooked. Each gamer will of course have their own opinion and experience with Flock, let’s hope yours is a positive one as it is a good game, despite its issues.
The visuals are nice for an XBLA game and fit the feel of the game well, although load times are quite long sometimes. Framerate is steady and the physics engine works wonders. It looks good, but not amazing. The music is fairly good but not as catchy as you would expect from a game like this.
Flock is an odd one. It has a good idea and makes good use of it, but ultimately it runs into problems like becoming repetitive and being far too expensive. But if you can overlook these things, then you’ll find an enjoyable game that you will end up playing for quite a while, that’s if it doesn’t drive you insane first.