Angry Birds, didn't exactly create a genre of games, but it certainly did popularize one. In fact, in a press release for their newest title, Siege Hero, Armor Games is quick to point out that the game's predecessor, Crush the Castle, is kind of like Angry Birds but was released before the avian tossing title. The statement was in no way intended to knock down someone else's castle, more to point out that they weren't pilfering anything with this release.
In truth, there have been any number of spins on the genre, outside of the above, there have things like Tiki Totems which follows the formula as well, just with tapping to remove sections as opposed to launching something. And, with the way mobile apps are growing, it seems like there may be room for all of them. Plus, when they're done well, they're fun.
Let us turn our thoughts specifically to Siege Hero, a game which contains 63 levels and the promise of more down the line. Where it differs slightly from its predecessor and Angry Birds is that rather than launching your missile of choice from the side towards the structure, Siege Hero operates on a first-person perspective – the missile comes from where you are and heads straight towards the castle.
Other than that, the basic principles all remain the same – there is a structure made out of various objects (wood, stone, ice, etc.), and you need to destroy it, killing all the bad guys but leaving any bystanders alive. You get bonus points for not harming the innocent and lose points should you kill them. You also get bonus points for not utilizing you're full complement of missiles. Hit a predetermined score level and you obtain mastery of the level rather than just completion. Siege Hero also offers several types of missiles, from single rocks to multiples, vats of fire and tar, and even bombs.
The game really is a trial and error experience, one which asks you to examine the structure you need to destroy, pinpoint the weak spots, and predict the resultant carnage of firing a rock at them. You will, of course, be wrong though – the result of your missile hitting the structure will never be exactly what you think it is, and while the missile may work in demolishing the structure, it won't work as you intended. But, that's okay, just as it's okay that trying to repeat the exact same moves in second playthrough of any level tends to result in something slightly different occurring.
The biggest problem with the game is the scant number of levels – 63 may sound like a lot, but with a few hours work you should be able to master nearly all of them. For us, there is one pesky level which we simply cannot get a high enough score on and it is driving us slightly insane (this review could have been done several days ago if not for our obsessive need to master level 15). Inevitably, people playing this game will find one or two levels where they run into the exact same difficulty only to have a brilliant epiphany on where the first missile must be launched. We're still waiting for that epiphany.
We're also waiting for more levels to be released. Sure the game just launched, but we're vaguely obsessed with it and think that anyone who spends the 99 cents on it will be as well. And, if anyone knows how to take master level 15, do give a holler.
Siege Hero is not rated by the ESRB.
Article first published as iPhone Game Review: Siege Hero on Blogcritics.