Windows Phone Thoughts: Oz Creations Counter Sheep 1.21R reviewed

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Friday, March 21, 2003

Oz Creations Counter Sheep 1.21R reviewed

Posted by Andy Whiteford in "SOFTWARE" @ 09:40 AM

When I saw that a game by the name of Counter Sheep had been released, I had visions of a title that was centred around either buying lamb joints from a butcher shop or some form of sheep in war. After playing it, Iím glad it was the latter game design that has inspired this new Pocket PC release.




The premise behind Counter Sheep is simple. There are two flocks of sheep who are a bit miffed with each other. Rather than do what your average sheep on a farm would do and duck the opponents head under the sheep dip when they are least expecting it, these woollen bad boys have a much more sinister method of settling their differences: all out warfare. Iím not talking a severe nip and tuck with the shears, Iím talking cannon balls, rockets and even the odd nuclear explosion. The protagonists in this game mean business and they cut no corners.


Figure 1: General settings screen

Playing the game
Counter Sheep is played from an overhead perspective with a game style similar to such classics as Worms or Snails. Playing from top down introduces the third dimension to the game play and this is where Counter Sheep differs from the others. You select your weapon, aim in true 360 degree fashion, select the angle of trajectory and power of your shot and then fire away. Weapons available range from cannon balls, bombs and rockets through lightning balls, and ion cannons to the Daddy of them all, the nuclear missile. The lower powered weapons can offer between one, three and five shots while the top end selection are a single shot of mass destruction.


Figure 2: The help function is both clear and detailed

The playing area is a relatively large landscape which appears to undulate with valleys conveyed in a darker light than the brighter higher ground. You must remember to use an elevated angle to attack an opponent on the other side of a hill or your projectile will slam into the hillside instead. A transparent radar is employed in the top right corner of the screen that maps out all sheep, both friend and foe, and also available pick-ups. The small coloured rectangle on this radar represents the area that is currently filling the screen and this can be dragged around to view other areas of the map.


Figure 3: Selecting the play options before starting a game

The goodies
Collecting the various items that are scattered around the playing area is achieved by parachuting on top of a desirable, or shooting it. So these sheep parachute as well? They certainly do and in style. Each sheep takes it in turn to have a single move around the map and then have a single shot. These turns are alternated between the two opposing teams. Moving is performed in a similar fashion to launching a weapon by selecting a trajectory and then tapping on the move button. The sheep is then blasted into the air towards its target before deploying its parachute to return safely back to terra firma. As well as picking up weapons, there are health packs that will return your sheepís health status back to half or full. This is a good thing because the aim of the game is to reduce each of your opponents' sheep to a pile of bones and replenishing this health may well mean the difference between winning or losing the game.


Figure 4: A typical in-game scene


Figure 5: One of our woollen friends has found himself a good landing site

Configuration
Various options allow you to select the location, number of sheep per team and computer A.I. level. You also have the option of selecting a human or computer opponent using the same machine, turning on wind and also pick-ups. You can have between one and 10 sheep per team, which effectively will determine how long a game will last. One word on the computer A.I. level though. The entry setting is one and you get a small picture of a sheep with a Dunce cap on. This picture really doesnít prepare you for how incredibly stupid an opponent this is. Playing my first couple of games at this level, the computer opponents would rarely - if ever - hit me with their weapons and would blow themselves and their teammates up with alarming regularity. This is actually quite entertaining to watch, however, this level is best reserved as a trainer to allow you to become accustomed to the firing system and game mechanics. Level two is a much more realistic entry point and still quite easy. The hardest level is also set sensibly and the A.I. improvements are more tactical, where your opponent will stock up on more powerful weapons as opposed to going into an all-out attack. This is preferable to simply ramping up the accuracy of the computer, although make no mistake, these guys are still fine marks"men". The game has many touches of humour and the animation of the sheep, while not very varied, is still well done and raises a smile or two.


Figure 6: The end of a Nuclear explosion. Any sheep caught in that blast are toast!

Music and sound effects can be toggled on or off but both are well done and itís unusual for me to not reach for the music off option after playing a game. It would be great to have the sound effects for the bigger weapons a little more suited because as they stand, they donít sound much more powerful than the weakest weapons. Overall though, the sound complements the fine graphics on offer here well indeed.


Figure 7: The in-game options and statistics screen

An in-game menu can be called up during play which allows you to change various settings and select different weapons. This is a recent addition to the game and offers current statistics as well to get an accurate representation of the current state of play. Game play is a lot of fun and the various options allow you to tailor the game enough to keep it interesting. While the game format seems a little repetitive, I didnít find myself tiring of the play and even found it to become very addictive, always a sign of a good game. Graphics are nice and clear throughout the whole game and all effects are handled well. Just when you have mastered the firing control of the game, turning on the wind brings in another learning curve and the game can be as simple or as hard as you want. I did find scrolling in the radar map was a little sensitive so it would be good to have this a little less responsive and in my opinion, a zoom function for this aspect of the game would be a great addition and assist in lining up a medium range target.


Figure 8: The ION cannon is one of the more powerful tools of the trade

Gotchas
There are no real issues with this game at all, only a couple of small niggles I found. There are small graphical glitches when pick-ups merge into hills with parts of the power up turning back as it clashes with the scenery. Another thing I would like to see changed is the time after striking an opponent before the screen switches to the next player. You can hear the squeal of pain from the stricken sheep but as the health bar drops, you are already viewing the next sheep before the full extent of damage done is shown. Only death is fully covered in a typically funny animation sequence.

Where to buy
Counter Sheep can be downloaded from Handango or purchased for $9.95 (affiliate link).

Specifications
  • 5.1mb storage space
  • 7.5mb to run
  • Pocket PC 2000 or higher
  • ARM or MIPS based CPU
Conclusion
Well this really is a great game and a definite keeper as far as Iím concerned. Fans of Snails and other similar games will find a lot to like in Counter Sheep but Iím sure there will be interest for everyone else as well. Nice graphics and sound just add to the overall polish of this title and the ability to create custom levels and add level packs will increase the longevity of this title. I strongly urge everyone out there to try this game out.

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