E3 2008: A Flocking Good Game


Upcoming Xbox Live Arcade title Flock has everything a good puzzle game needs: UFOs, sheep, bottomless pits, sex, catapults and poop.

The object of Flock, due out in December, is to move a requisite number of animals to an alien mothership. Why you, as the aliens, want specific numbers of sheep, cows, chickens, and pigs, is up to your imagination. You use a smaller UFO to guide the creatures past the many obstacles that stand between them and the goal, including fences, pits, and wolves.

It’s not as easy as simply nudging them in the right direction, of course, you’ll also make clever use of the cartoonish environment to herd your animals. Send a boulder crashing through a fence to knock it down, or get sheep wet to make them small enough to pass under it. (Wool shrinks when you get it wet, you see.)

You can also use the animals’ romantic inclinations to help you out; boy pigs will fall in love with a lady pig and follow her wherever she goes in a nice, orderly single file line. If you’ve been a bit too careless with your sheep and killed off too many, just lead a boy and a girl onto a special love square and they’ll instantly make a happy little family of sheeplings.

Your UFO can apply a bit of pressure by pulling up or pushing down on animals, too. Push down on a chicken, and it will lay an egg. Push on a cow, and it’ll poop. Not entirely sure why you’d want such a thing to happen, but if it does, just try to have a pig nearby – they love rolling in it and will clean it up for you.

Completing levels quickly earns you medals, but getting all of the animals to the goal, not just the requisite number, earns you higher scores. You can replay levels as often as you like, trying different strategies and techniques to see what works best for you.

The game will ship with at least 50 single player levels and 10 co-op levels, but if that’s not enough to keep you busy, you can create your own puzzles with Flock’s level editor.

The puzzles I saw were quite clever, and the animals themselves are just freakin’ adorable. Puzzle game (and sheep) fans should have something to look forward to.

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