Published on October 12th, 2012 | by Mat Mckeown0
Happy Wars Review
Call me old and pessimistic but I rarely find myself looking forward to a new game being released, after countless Call Of Duty’s and Halo’s I’ve started to shy away from any game that involves macho space marines curb-stomping various alien threats in dull grey corridors or crouching behind chest-high walls. I’ve started to keep a keen eye on the lesser known titles such as Terraria or Hero Academy because they can quite often turn out to be hidden gems. So it was with great enthusiasm and a blood stream full of caffeine, that I took a chance on the latest from the Free-To-Play market, a little title that’s been taking the Xbox Marketplace by storm, Happy Wars.
Brought to you by Toylogic, Happy Wars is part of an emerging Freemium genre, a free game that includes real world monetary transaction for exclusive content. Amongst the genre’s ranks are titles such as DC Universe and Team Fortress 2.
The overall story to Happy Wars is simple, in a world filled with mystery and wonder there are always two sides that just don’t get along. Who as the game puts it “Battle over silly grievances and today another fight is going to begin for another silly reason…”
One such quarrel I came across was between the King of The Light Kingdom and the King of The Dark Kingdom as they argued which was stronger, a hippo or an elephant (my money’s on the hippo).
The main point of playing through the campaign is to unlock armor and weapons to use in multiplayer and unlock further campaign missions. The multiplayer aspect plays the same as the singleplayer player as up to 30 players battle for victory over a variety of levels.
Players take control of three classes, the warrior, the cleric and the mage. The main battle plan is to get from your side of the map to the opposing teams base by capturing towers along the way which act as respawn points for your team.
The controls are fairly basic, Left stick for moving, right stick for looking at passing chicks, there’s even an option for a top down view if you fancy the added challenge. Combat is simplistic and fun as you chain attacks together to defeat your enemy. There are also special skills assigned to slots that you can activate on the fly in the heat of battle.
For example, as a warrior I could chuck a rock, charge or just wail repeatedly on any unfortunate with my sword. By defeating enemies and winning matches you slowly level up, learning new skills and abilities. There’s even a team skill ability, in one situation we had overrun the keep defences but their forces stopped us from entering the main square, by a simple press of (Y) I called my comrades into rank behind me and we charged for guts and glory into the midst of them, sending them all flying like little heavily armoured tennis balls. After finally defeating the enemy tower, our opponents were strung up on posts in their courtyard and humiliated whilst we threw rocks at them, jeered and celebrated our victory. Characters can all be fully customised, and through levelling up you unlock the ability to wield stronger weapons and equipment.
Happy War’s overall graphics are reminiscent of the cartoon cell-shading of Wind Waker, there’s even the same kind of slapstick humour. It’s a visually simple and stunning game that gives off a Castle Crashers meets Little Big Planet vibe.
Some of the maps are brilliantly designed with great attention to detail being put into the various statues and armaments that surround battlements, although some of them are huge they have this cutesy appeal that reminds me of old N64 third-person adventure games.
The gameplay is similar to DOTA as you defeat or capture a tower to then progress to the enemy base. There’s a simple tutorial system that breaks new players into the game. For added carnage players can interact with special items in battle, one involved rolling a horde of bomb filled rocks across a narrow alley enemy troops were piling through, the resulting destruction was hilarious to watch. When things inevitably start to go wrong you can defend your castle by hopping aboard wall mounted turrets. Or in that final assault on impregnable enemy keeps you can build battering rams and siege engines to quickly turn the tide of battle in your favour.
Not every game is perfect and Happy Wars does have a few flaws, the particle effects and chaos of the battles can make it hard for you to keep track of what’s going on and you can easily lose sight of your character when there’s a great horde of you onscreen at once. There can be a noticeable delay in control response, occasional frame rate drops and the dodgy camera controls resulting in you being stun locked until your health bar drops embarrassingly low. There is also an issue with the long load times which can lead to frustration with this game, but considering this title is free and the only money being made by the developers is through ingame transactions it’s easy to give it a break, overlook the flaws and just get lost in the fun of it all.
Normally when a game is free-to-play there’s a catch, and the case of Happy Wars it’s the usage of Happy Stars and Happy Tickets to level up quicker or get better equipment which you obtain by either unlocking through progress in the game or real monetary transaction. Although it’s fairly easy to win stars in matches, tickets involve spending real money, giving those willing to shell out that little bit extra an unfair edge on those just looking for a fun-filled free time.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Happy Wars; its wacky and fresh design brought a much needed break from the latest exploits of Captain Grey-Brown-Loads a-Bloom aboard the HMS Dull. As one of the big free-to-play releases on Xbox Live just now, I wholeheartedly recommend giving it a playthrough, if only to at least try something new.
Happy Wars will be available on October 12th for Xbox Live Gold Subscribers.
Summary: A wacky cell-shaded romp that I highly recommend. Bear in mind though that the pay option may make a bigger impact further down the line.