Carcassonne (XBLA) Review

Carcassonne is now on Xbox Live, and despite being completely ignorant of the game until I started playing on my 360, I can now say that I’m a veritable addict. Although, something about it feels a little odd. Something about it feels…wrong. It doesn’t have the mind-blowing 5.1 audio of Lumines or the shiny 3D graphics found in Geometry Wars, Assault Heroes, or even Aegis Wing. Instead, with its simplistic graphics and fairly limited features, Carcassonne is by far one of the greatest multiplayer games on XBLA as of Tuesday, July 24, 2007, and it’s a board game.

The gameplay is simple: you and up to 4 other players take turn placing tiles on the board. The tiles work like little puzzle pieces. Each piece may have a road, farm, kingdom, or if you play the included expansion, a river, or any combination of those pieces. The catch is that roads must always connect with roads, kingdoms with kingdoms, and so on and so forth. Connect a lot of kingdom pieces together and close the area and you receive a lot of points. Connect and close a small kingdom and get a couple of points, the same goes for roads, and farms. The problem here is that sometimes you might have a large kingdom set and your opponent may close it and take all of the points. You can counteract this by placing "followers" on the different types of pieces which kind of guarantees your ownership over that piece and its connections. If your opponent has more followers on a section then they receive the points. I know, it sounds confusing, but it’s not.

So, is that it? Yeah, pretty much. Gameplay this good doesn’t need fancy visuals or tacked on modes to trick the consumer into thinking that there is added "value" (‘sup, Missile Command?). All it needs is game type customization, smooth online play, and fantastic controls. Ya know what? Carcassonne succeeds brilliantly when it comes to all of those factors. My only beef with the game is the fact that it’s not free and that the art style is farily uninspiring. I don’t think anything can really be done about the former (unless a billion-dollar corporation wants to reimburse me) and the latter is probably done for consistency with the real board game. Oh well.

I was initially turned off by the art style and learning curve, which is much smaller than I thought, but once I actually played a few games of this classic (or so I’m told) board game, it has quickly become one of my favorite XBLA titles and one that I will be busting out often when friends are around.


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Author: Kyle Stallock View all posts by

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