|System: X360 (XBLA), PS3 (PSN), PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Proper Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Capcom||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 28, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
February 5, 2009 - What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name Capcom? Quite a while ago the typical answer may have been playing several matches of Street Fighter II on one credit in an arcade. During the last generation of consoles, a standard response could have been playing the Devil May Cry series or perhaps even Resident Evil 4 for the first time. However, if this question were posed today the answer might be fairly surprising.
With all of Capcom's recent downloadable hits like Bionic Commando Rearmed, Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, and Mega Man 9, it has become increasingly more difficult to associate the company with anything else. While Capcom still makes excellent disc-based games as well, they have truly made their presence felt in the downloadable space this generation. This is thanks to a fairly steady stream of quality downloadable titles ranging from sequels to classic franchises like Mega Man 9 to newcomers like Age of Booty. Continuing to vie for gamers' hard drive space, Capcom will soon be releasing another original downloadable game simply entitled Flock.
The visual style of this game is incredibly charming and feels somewhat similar to that of Little Big Planet. Everything in the game looks exceptionally bright, cheerful, and fluffy. Its environments appear to be made entirely of squares of spongy, fabric-like materials that are stitched together to create larger land masses. For example, grass covered squares look like tiny green pillows and are often attached to wheat fields that closely resemble squares of brown shag carpet. In fact, this look is applied to just about everything in the game except for its water, which looks slightly out of place due to its relative normalcy.
In each level of Flock, players will be put in control of a UFO and tasked with flocking a specific number of barnyard animals safely back to the Motherflocker. However, guiding these animals to your mothership is never an easy task thanks to the plethora of obstacles, traps, and peril constantly placed between them and a victorious dust off. Since every level is essentially made of several islands, water is definitely your most common enemy. Players will also need to be on the lookout for predatory animals such as wolves and piranhas looking to thin any unsuspecting flock.
Thankfully, controlling the herd is made much easier due to Flock's very simplistic controls. Your UFO is only capable of three basic interactions with the environment and various animals in the game. Players can scare, thereby directing, animals with the light emanating from the bottom of their ship, use it to pick things up, or use it to squash things. While simplistic to remember and utilize, these abilities can be applied in many different ways to help you achieve victory. Having trouble getting some sheep through a field of wheat? Squash them a pathway. Tree getting in your way? Just pick it up and move it.
There are a total of four different animals in the game that you'll need to herd, each with their own specific strengths and weaknesses. Chickens have a limited ability to fly but no real weight. Sheep are easily scared and stuck in tall grass but can also be shrunken down by absorbing water because of their wool. Cows are large and can therefore knock down some fences and squash tall grass but when squashed themselves, they'll uncontrollably unleash fecal matter. Unsurprisingly, pigs adore poo and will wallow around in any they can find but can also spin around like balls when needed. These differences add quite a bit of strategy to the gameplay, especially when flocking a diverse group of animals at the same time.
Of course, if you do happen to lose some of your flock during their long trek to the Motherflocker, all hope for completing the level is not lost. Unlike previous games with a similar premise (Lemmings), the animals in Flock are able to reproduce. This means that you can always bolster your numbers by breeding if you happen to fall short of the necessary quota. All players will need to do is to find a mating square, denoted by a red heart, and lure a male and female onto it. A few seconds and a heart wipe later you're a few heads closer to your quota. The only real downside of this is that it takes time, and the quicker you finish a level the better your bonus and score will be.
When Flock is finally released it will have over fifty single-player levels to defeat, not to mention the additional co-op levels that will also be included and playable online and off. However, even after you've beaten all of the developer-designed levels, Flock will also allow you to create your own with its level editor. Although full details of what to expect from this aspect of the game have yet to be revealed, the ability to create your own physics-based environmental puzzles is certainly an interesting proposition. Check back for our full review of Flock to see if Capcom will soon have yet another downloadable gem on their hands.
CCC Staff Contributor