Editor: Diane Hutchinson Editor@girlgamersuk.com

FLOCK! Review

Posted by TurtleGirl On June - 15 - 2009

Flock! is a cool, fun puzzle video game developed by Proper Games and published by Capcom for Windows, Playstation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. It was released for Microsoft Windows on April 7, 2009 through Steam and Stardock’s digital distribution service Impusle, Xbox Live Arcade on April 8, 2009 and Playstation Network on April 9, 2009.


The player controls a UFO named ‘The Flocker’and is tasked with herding animals (sheep, cows, chickens, and pigs) back to the mothership, “The Mother Flocker”. This is challenging due to the hazardous environments the animals exist in — the players will have to defend their flock against hungry predators, avoid pits of death, and send their animals flying with catapults. In the singleplayer campaign, the player can solve fifty five singleplayer levels, across several seasons (summer, autumn, winter).
A cooperative mode will also be present, for example, one player could lift a fence and the other player could guide a flock of animals under it.


So you have to protect your cornfields and lock up your livestock,. Herd cute cuddly animals through over 50 sandbox puzzles with the help of your UFO tracker. Beam, flock together with a friend and you can even create and share your own crazy levels online with the built in level editor. I like the fact that the graphics were great on this game and the playability was good. It took me a while to become accustomed to the controls and guide my sheep in the right direction. Many times my sheep decided to hide in the trees and it was only the faint bleating noise that gave their cover away. So with all my might of my trusty UFO,  I convince my sheep to go in the right direction as I herd them into the mother ship. A few times in the game I had to shrink my sheep to mini size so they could easily slip under the fence, which by all means was fairly easy to do until they accidentally flew off the side of the hilltop and plummeted to their doom. That was by pure accident (I seriously had no idea they would fly off that hill), so you have to keep an eye on the little sheep. Gradually I unlocked new items on the level editor and unlocked new sheep. I thought this game was highly entertaining and fun. Different environments can have a different impact on your game and so you do sometimes have to think ahead. It’s a relatively simple game and your UFO antenna always points you to the nearest animal, so you can find all those animals that like to play hide and seek, or should that be hide and sheep. Try this game on Xbox Live Arcade for all of your alien abducting farm animals needs.


I would give this game an Arcade rating of 7 out of 10. Perfect for killing some time or some farm animals. (We would like to point out that no farm animals were harmed during the playing of this game. They were all returned, all be it with a slightly puzzled look on their faces).


We also managed to have a chat with the developers . Here’s what they had to say.


1. The game has a decidedly “mature” undertone. Was there any influence that inspired this?

We’re all huge fans of the old school Warner Bros cartoons, from a time when it would be considered perfectly alright to feed baby animals to piranhas and squeeze them with a UFO bean till they poop… just because it’s funny! I suppose on paper, a game that lets you push sheep off cliffs and abduct them away from their cosy islands could be seen as mature but we hope that we’ve given the Flock world enough of a cartoon feel that even when we’re a wee bit harsh, there’s a guilty laugh to be had. Ando sometimes, its more fun to loose some of your animals than to get a perfect score straight away!

Flock! has been compared to games like Lemmings before, and we’re flattered by that… but we think we’ve taken the humour and fun and puzzle based action of a game like that and presented it in a very contemporary way. The physics engine makes the world really dynamic and exciting, while the personality in all the animals and the level of polish across all aspects of the game are a real point of pride for our team. It’s this level of quality and care and attention to detail that we want to become a hallmark of all our games in the future.


2. Will there be a sequel? maybe herding humans or dinosaurs?

That’s up to Capcom, but we’d never say no!


3. What made you decide that ufo’s abducting farm animals was a good idea for a game?

The original concept for the game was a million miles away from how it ended up! We were looking to do something a bit different though, and once we hit upon the idea of having a UFO, using farm animals just felt like a natural extension from it – the urban myths about abductions often revolve around farm animals… We haven’t looked in to the why’s and wherefore’s of the game – we just wanted to make a game that was fun to play – and hopefully that’s what we have achieved!


4. Are there any plans for a handheld version or a Wii version?

Again, this is something we can’t comment on – it’s up to Capcom to decide what platforms to release it on.


5. Will you be releasing any new levels?

At the moment, there are no plans to release any more official levels for the XBox or the PS3, but we launched a patch for the PC on the 12th of June, which has a new Springtime theme, complete with rabbits, a new singleplayer campaign with 6 levels, and we’ve added giant carrots (which all the animals love to eat) and burrowing patches to aid the animals movement from one island to another. We’ve also put in some fixes which fans of the game felt would improve it, and polished the level editor, making it even easier to use.  One of the great things about publishing in the download market is that you have more freedom to tweak things that maybe aren’t quite right, and listen to what the marketplace is telling you about the game.

Also, having made the decision to ship the game with the level editor, we’re hoping that there will be lots of exciting user-generated levels – one thing we still love about the game is that people play it so differently to how we imagined they would! People are happy to use the objects in different ways, and this really opens up a Pandora’s box in terms of what is possible.


6. Are you working on any new projects?

We are working on a couple of new projects – but we don’t want to give too much away at the moment! The most important thing for us is to be known for making fun and quirky games – we don’t want to be pigeon-holed into making one specific genre of game. The whole company is involved with game development, from the initial pitches to any changes later on, so it’s good to have such a wide breadth of experience. Although we do play some of the same games, everyone has their own interests, which means that there are lots of different ideas.  Sometimes it can be hard to rein these ideas in, and not bombard the game with new features just because they’re cool…but it does mean that we have lots of perspectives from which to draw.

We’ve also recently set up a ‘Labs’ section on our website (proper-games.com) where we’ll be posting some of the concepts and prototypes which for one reason or another we’ve decided to move on from. These will be free to play – they’re by no means perfect, but will give our fans insight into what we’re working on.  Sometimes the games industry can seem a little secretive, but we’re trying to be as open as we can about the way we do things.  One good example of this is the forums we set up – they’ve been a really good way of interacting directly with the users, and finding out what they’re looking for, and resolving any issues or queries they have had about the game.


We would like to take this opportunity to thank the team at Proper Games for their interview and giving us the chance to play this great game. (we didn’t mean to boot the sheep off the cliff….honest!)

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