Games with bright colours and cute animals may look childish, but titles such as Viva Piñata have proved many wrong, mainly due to the game’s addictive gameplay… the fluffy animals helped too though. Capcom has combined farmyard animals with puzzle platforming to form Flock. What a baarilliant idea, or so I think so.
The objective of Flock is to herd animals into the motherflocker (careful how you say that), an alien mothership, using your UFO craft and its various tractor beams. As the game progresses, players have to overcome more obstacles and challenges in order to thrive; this ranges from holes and pits to scarecrows and predators, each of which could eliminate your beloved animals.
The animals you have to herd into your motherflocker include sheep, bulls, pigs and chickens – with each one having their own special abilities which could help you succeed in the level. For example: Bulls can break fences and gates which could help other animals reach the goal quicker. These little things will help you obtain a faster completion time, which is rewarded with gold, silver and bronze medals. These medals are rewarded for collecting the amount of animals within the time limits, as listed in the quota. There is also a ‘perfect abduction’ star which is awarded for obtaining all the animals within the level. Both of these proved to be a good inclusion and will get players replaying certain levels.
Your typical campaign would be an enjoyable few hours long if it had an interesting storyline. This is one of the major problems with Flock. The lack of a storyline makes it just level after level of collecting animals, but probably the most disappointing aspect is that there are only just over fifty levels, and with each one lasting around a minute or two, it won’t take long for players to finish what is known as the single player campaign. On a positive note, the names of each level – as well as providing a clue – contain humour based on the animals within the level. This is the type of thing only Capcom can pull off well and it has worked in their favour.
However, there is a solution to the lack of levels, and this comes in the form of a level editor. Best of all, the level editor is very easy to use and challenging levels can be designed within minutes thanks to the simple controls, easily accessible menus and great layout. New items for the level editor are unlocked in the game’s campaigns after using them within the level. This means it’s worth playing through the campaigns before experimenting. If that wasn’t enough, created levels can be shared through Xbox LIVE using Level Sharing. You can upload your own created levels and download other user’s levels too. This works incredibly well as each creation downloads in seconds and the rating system works well.
The game’s only multiplayer comes in the form of the multiplayer campaign, which unfortunately is only available locally. The game mode would probably have worked slightly better with Xbox LIVE play, due to the way in which the camera has to incorporate both UFOs and with some pretty big levels, at times this isn’t really ideal. The multiplayer campaign does have its strong points, with some clever challenges that require involvement from both players.
Graphically, the childish cartoon presentation has been executed well and the use of colours suits the game’s style. It’s also worth noting the nicely done textures. This just shows that Xbox LIVE Arcade titles can look great. A similar thing could be said for the game’s audio, which has been brilliantly produced in order to capture the animal sounds and the UFO itself. Probably the highlight of the audio is the game’s soundtrack which is embaaarrassingly catchy.
The game’s achievements are shear brilliance with a good mix of easy and hard achievements. Most players will easily be able to obtain a good 100 GamerScore from the title, but only the best will be able to obtain the full 200.
Flock is an Xbox LIVE Arcade title you’ll either totally love, or udderly despise. If you enjoy the demo, the full game is worth a purchase, even at 1200 Microsoft Points.