iPad Game Review: Medieval HD Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Medieval HD is a castle defense game set in medieval times (as the name implies). Your goal is to keep your castle standing while utilizing your ballista (a massive crossbow) to prevent the enemy units from reaching your side of the screen. Later in the game, you will have units of your own to command, however the core of the gameplay revolves around your ability to accurately wield your ballista.
Medieval HD is not a tower defense game, it is a castle defense game. In a tower defense game, you place weapons strategically on the playfield in an effort to stop the enemy. In a castle defense game, you have a primary weapon that you are usually required to aim, or at least select targets. It is this arcade element that sets castle defense games apart from their tower defense brethren. In Medieval HD, the ballista is aimed and fired by touching it and drawing your finger back. It may take a few tries to get the feel for it but it?s a fairly standard and intuitive interface. Fortunately, for those of you who don?t enjoy this aspect of the game, the developers have thoughtfully included an auto aim option as well as an option to draw the arc that the arrow will travel. These are excellent ways to get the feel for the strategic aspect of the game without worrying about your aim. More gold is awarded, however, for utilizing the more difficult targeting methods (+10% for the arc mode and +20% for the classic) so consider making that transition as your expertise improves.
In Medieval HD, your job is to defend your castle from enemy troops, including footmen, archers, cavalry, catapults, and hot air balloons. There are an unlimited number of levels, and each level can be won in three different ways; destroy the enemy castle, survive all the waves of enemy troops, or capture the enemy?s flag. Unfortunately, the enemy will not sit idly by and allow this to happen. As the level progresses, the ground units will move inexorably across the screen toward your castle in an attempt to capture your flag and return with it, while the catapults and balloons will target your castle. You lose the level when your castle is destroyed or your flag is captured.
You get gold when you kill enemies and you can use the hard-earned gold to purchase upgrades. Herein lies the strategic aspect of the game as you must choose between reinforcing your castle, buying more powerful arrows, buying different types of arrows, buying a catapult (to bring the fight to the enemy), or buying the facilities to produce your own troops. There are quite a few options here but don?t despair, it?s difficult to go wrong as long as you choose the ones that compliment your playing style.
The game does not include a campaign; however, I didn't find myself really missing one. Medieval HD feels like it is designed to be a "pick up and play" type of game and a campaign just doesn't lend itself to that type of gameplay. I did, however, find myself wishing for multiplayer. We can be hopeful, as there seems to be plenty of screen real estate to accommodate a second ballista on the other castle, and the game just seems to beg for a multiplayer mode.
The only complaint I have with the interface is the shot timer. If you try to fire an arrow before it has fully recharged, nothing happens. No sound, no alert, no warning, no message. This can be very frustrating as you have no idea if it?s a bug or is just the UI deisgn. I would also like to see them implement a feature where your ballista defaults to the standard arrow if the selected ammo is on a cool down.
The graphics in Medieval HD are razor-sharp and beautifully drawn. There are nine different terrains available in the game, and all of them demonstrate very high production values. This is NOT simply a blown-up version of the iPhone game. Everything has been completely re-rendered and polished to a high sheen. Don't be looking for a lot of flashy 3D effects, though. The developers seem to have made this game by hand, like the well-crafted siege engines your great, great grandfather used to use.
The sounds in Medieval HD are subtle, but nicely sampled. Arrows make a satisfying thunk when they hit the castle, and an entirely differently sound when they hit enemy troops. In fact, if you listen closely, you can tell if you're hitting your intended target just by the sound the arrow makes. The in-game music is limited to the menus, but that just saves me the trouble of turning it off as I have really come to rely on hearing the game sounds to enhance my play. This is one game you can play in bed without headphones; and that is a good thing.
Medieval HD is a great "pick up and play" castle defense game with enough options to appeal to almost everybody. The graphics are top-notch, and the sounds are not only excellent, but also useful. If you are looking for a deep strategic experience with a long campaign then look elsewhere; however, the game feels complete without it. Multiplayer would be a welcome addition, however, and while I have no idea if it is planned, I sincerely hope so.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Razor sharp with very high production values. Sound: - 4.5 - Simple and understated, yet varied and useful. Controls: - 4 - Three different firing options means there?s something for everybody. Gameplay: - 4 - An extensive upgrade tree means there is plenty to do here. The lack of multiplayer, however, means you?ll be doing it alone.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Unless you're familiar with these types of games, start off using the auto aim, or the arc feature. Don't let the ground troops get right beneath your castle as they are very hard to hit from the top down due to their tiny little strike zone at that angle. Don't bring a catapult into play unless you absolutely cannot survive all of the waves in a level. It will cause a premature win, robbing you of valuable gold.