Flock! will make all your dreams come true. …no, seriously. Somewhere, deep down, you’ve always wanted to be a virtual shepherd, especially when you get a chance to herd your flock into a spaceship called the Motherflocker (we’ll pause a bit while you stop laughing). We’re not entirely sure how these ideas come to fruition, but we so desperately wanted to be part of the meeting where such a concept was approved with a hearty, “I like it!” Proper Games is at the helm and Capcom is set to publish the title for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC, and we really want to check out the final product when it arrives some time later this year. For whatever reason, we’ve seen a surge of small, original titles this generation, although most of them have arrived on the PSN and Xbox Live Marketplace. Perhaps that’s the reason for the emergence of such games, but either way, Flock! is a game that should appeal to anyone who needs a break from the seriousness of gaming and just wants a relaxing laugh.
Yes, you will use your Motherflocker (dear God, that’s hilarious) ship to gather the sheep; the tractor beam will be the only “weapon” you’ll need. As time goes on, you’ll gather up animals other than sheep, and the faster you can drag in the required number of animals, the better medal you will earn for that level. Furthermore, there are “extra” animals in each level that will act as little bonuses if you can snag them, although we assume they’re more difficult to obtain than the regular ol’ creatures that are wandering about, unaware of their imminent demise. Now, while we have to believe the controls will be relatively simple, the gameplay won’t be merely a matter of spotting, targeting and dragging. Real-world rules don’t really apply, either – how could they? – so you’ll have to be creative in how you tackle the various obstacles. For example, there may be dangerous cliffs and crevices and if the Motherflocker frightens the sheep, they might plummet into blackness, thereby depriving you of your prize. Then, you may have to deal with troublesome fences…
So, just herd the sheep towards a fountain where the water will shrink them, thereby allowing you to drive them under the fence. No, really. The sheep will eventually return to normal size, so timing between fences will be a definite issue. But sometimes, there’s just no way to bring the animals to the correct location in the level, so you’ll need the help of special items. You’ve got your catapult, for instance, that can launch animals over impossible obstacles and into a section where they’re finally accessible, and we can just picture creatures flying through the air. After successfully completing any given level, you will unlock a bunch of new things, like new items for the Level Editor and extra stuff for your ship, like a booster or a powered-up tractor beam. We’re not entirely sure how the medals factor in – perhaps a higher medal will unlock more bonuses – but we do know that you can go back and retry any levels again. Once you’ve obtained a few new upgrades for your ship, it will be a whole lot easier to snag some Golds, which makes perfect sense.
At the end of the day, though, it’s all about clearing the requirements for each level, which will ultimately allow you to complete the…um…barnyard/alien adventure. We’re going to get more than 50 levels, and if you’re wondering, there will be a multiplayer option for your curious friends who just can’t believe you own such a game. And if you don’t know anyone who wants to help you herd sheep and other animals with a spaceship, you can always dive into the Level Editor, which will become more robust as you unlock more items. You can experiment with different ground types, rocks, fences, ledges, and any other number of building tools and obstacles. When you’re done, you can share them with other players, or simply try ‘em out yourself and admire your handiwork. As gamers, we will always "flock" to the groundbreaking impressive blockbusters, but we can’t forget about ambition and innovation on a smaller scale. Besides, who doesn’t want to at least try this one? Flock! has an undeniable worldwide appeal…no denying! Don’t even try!
1/20/2009 Ben Dutka