Boom, boom, boom!
As someone who grew up obsessively playing Worms in the 1990s, I was both excited and a little apprehensive about getting to grips with Cannon Brawl for the first time. Would it be a poor imitator? Would it just make me miss everything that I loved about Worms? Luckily, any doubts I had were quickly dispelled as I began my first foray into the game via the campaign mode. While the legacy of Worms is clearly evoked by Cannon Brawl’s gameplay and presentation style, this real-time, artillery-focused offering from Turtle Sandbox Games more than stands on its own two feet, with plenty to offer fans of earlier series such as Worms or newcomers alike.
Cannon Brawl combines real-time strategy and tower defense elements to great effect. Controlling an airship, the player must expand their territory across the game board and mine for gold. Gold funds the destructive artillery the player can use to take down the enemy, which is achieved by destroying their Headquarters on the opposite side of a 2D map. The objective of taking down the enemy HQ must be balanced with defending the player’s own castle, which is aided by tools such as shields and repair stations. While there isn’t a vast array of destructive weapons to hurl at an opponent, this actually benefits the overall experience of the game.
Progressing through the first stages of the campaign allowed me to unlock most of the basic tools that I would be able to make use of, such as rocket launchers, shields, mines and bombs. After that, the game would restrict me to selecting five options for my armoury to take into the battle ahead. While this is a little stripped down, it does stop things from becoming over-complicated. In my opinion, this is necessary given that Cannon Brawl’s match-ups are often very fast-paced. An extra layer of strategy is implemented by the different types of airships that can be unlocked via the campaign, each of which has different abilities, such as faster cool downs or drilling equipment. In turn, these different abilities can impact on how a particular opponent is best taken down.
Frenetic would be the best word to describe my first experience of Cannon Brawl’s multiplayer option. Both my opponent and I opted to use an airship that gave us faster cool downs on all of our equipment. As a result, the match became an intense rush to see who could quickly amass the most upgraded rockets, as we both frantically attempted to throw shields in the way of each barrage of missiles and hoped that not too many direct hits would sneak through.
It was a great deal of fun, and the match lasted around fifteen minutes. Given that Cannon Brawl is a real-time game, it was fifteen minutes of non-stop action with little time to pause for breath. I felt that once I’d committed to an all-out assault, that was it – I had to hope I could limit the damage to my HQ as much as possible with the odd shield or repair station, but I was pinning my hopes on firing more rockets than my opponent. It worked out…just. If this is the kind of match that can be regularly expected from Cannon Brawl’s multiplayer, then those who chose to purchase this game are in for a treat. Given that, as I mentioned, the player can only select up to five options for their armoury going into battle, games should also remain competitive and balanced.
The campaign ‘story’, such as it is, involves a nefarious uncle who attempts to usurp control of a Kingdom from his niece, the princess. I didn’t find it, or the various characters who pilot the airships in the game, particularly engaging. I often skipped through the dialogue cut-scenes during the campaign. An additional, albeit small, gripe is the fact that the battlefield can sometimes become quite overcrowded and difficult to keep track of. While this is due to the overwhelming emphasis Cannon Brawl’s gameplay places on pace and multitasking, it can sometimes be quite tricky to see and select certain units when they are placed in close proximity to one another.
With a campaign mode, puzzle levels and a nightmare mode, Cannon Brawl certainly has a lot to offer. The presentation is bright and engaging. Ultimately, the multiplayer is where the game truly shines, offering fast-paced action that should provide plenty of longevity down the road.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.