Review: Happy Wars
Free to play games often develop this reputation that they’ll never last that long due to the fact that the developers don’t really make any or a lot of money from them. However, since free to play games began, they’ve adapted to gamer’s needs by implementing stores where you can buy in-game items using real money. It might not make up the amount from game sales if it wasn’t free to play, but it’s a great addition if you want to show your support for the title, whilst improving your character at the same time.
Happy Wars is a great free to play title and the first of its kind on Xbox Live Arcade, so to speak. You play as one of three character classes: warrior, cleric and mage, in which it is your job to aid your team and capture the enemy’s castle. Along the way there are checkpoints which you can capture and use as spawn points, making it easier to drop in right outside the enemy castle when you’re making that final push. If both teams fail to capture the castle, then the winner is decided by the team with the most checkpoints.
There might not be a lot of choice in character classes, but this is made up for by the selection of weapons and armour available to unlock. By completing quests (challenges) and levelling up in-game, you can unlock item boxes which contain gear for your character. Most of the gear you receive will be the same, but the values for damage and defense will be different. After a while it does become repetitive, but it can give you an edge over an opponent if you have the same sword in appearance, yet your weapon deals out more damage – so the numbers are significant and shouldn’t just be ignored.
Gameplay wise the game is very similar to Castle Crashers, but with less comedy effect. You can taunt opponents with witty lines when you beat them and you can shout commands at your team if you want them to help you build a ladder into a castle or kill a horde of enemies chasing after you. Most players probably won’t even notice what you’re saying, but it’s a nice touch if you’re in party chat and don’t want to shout down your microphone at people.
One of my pet hates with the game has to be the destructible bridges, simply because some of your team mates will decide to sit on the other side of the bridge, waiting for you to cross it before destroying it and causing you to plunge to your death. I’ve rarely seen enemies actually use these against the other team and if a bridge is destroyed, there’s always another way around.
Every game mode you play will have AI controlling some of the characters. Now you may think that’s a negative to the game, as a lot of AIs play like newbies. In Happy Wars this isn’t the case, as the AI are actually fairly smart. Walk towards the edge of a cliff and you’ll find yourself being thrown off it or if you try sneaking around the back of an AI group, you’ll find yourself being pursued by them before you even get behind them. It’s a great feeling to actually have an AI that you can rely on.
Multiplayer throws 30 players onto one map, which does seem like a lot when you’re actually playing it. I often found myself lost amongst the carnage, as large battles took place and I became emerged within them. The main icon you have to look out for during battles are the red blips above characters, as they are the enemies and it can become very confusing who’s on which team.
The maps on offer provide a variety of settings, from a wintery wonderland to a sun-scorched desert. All of which are designed to make you take your own path, which may be different to your team members. In the end though, you’ll always meet up with your team mates to take down the enemy’s fortress or capture a checkpoint. If it wasn’t for these alternative routes on the map, there would definitely be a lot of kills and deaths on the scoreboard due to all of the chaos.
One of the downsides to this title is that you have to be connected to Xbox Live and have an Xbox Live Gold subscription to play the game. That even applies to the game’s offline story mode. I guess future free to play games will also take this stance, as it’s a way to repay those who pay for Xbox Live.
I think it’s great that we finally have some free to play titles coming to Xbox Live Arcade and Happy Wars is a perfect title to kick this off. I certainly look forward to trying out more games. I wouldn’t say I’m a cheapskate, as I just purchased two pieces of new DLC this week already, but it’s nice to know that there will be games on the Marketplace which you don’t have to pay anything for, unless you want to buy in-game items from the store, which in return supports the developers.
Review: Happy Wars Results
What we liked:
Levels and items to keep you going
Fun game to play online
What we disliked:
Once online activity drops it will struggle
You can't play it without being signed into Xbox Live