Posted on November 12, 2012 AT 02:32pm
After Sony found some success in the free-to-play model (EVE Online: Dust 514, the plethora of games in PlayStation Home) it would seem like a no-brainer that Microsoft would dip their feet into this popular form of gaming. Teaming up with Toylogic (who helped out on Super Smash Bros. Brawl) the big M’s first foray into F2P-modeled gaming has come to fruition in Happy Wars.
The basis of Happy Wars is fairly simply: a tower-defense war between two parties of fifteen online gamers takes place on a field. The first one to infiltrate the enemies’ castle and smash apart their totem-poled Big Tower wins the battle. Of course it’s not that easy; you simply cannot just mosey into the castle and take the win.
During each battle you’ll have to face off against the enemy using one of three classes (warrior, cleric, mage), each of whom have their own style of special powers. Fortunately all three have a strong style of melee, as well as the ability to switch weapons and gear with one another in-between battles. As the battles progress you and your teammates must take over respawn Towers so as to regenerate closer to enemy territories if you were to die. You can even use weapons such as baristas and door rammers to help you in battle.
As the game goes on you are able to earn coins (or tickets, in some cases) that you can use towards upgrading your weapons. However those who are looking for new and better weapons have two choices: either earn them with the Items box that you gain during highlight moments in battle, or use Microsoft Points to purchase them outright. The former is definitely the route to go if you want to stick to the “free” aspect of F2P, but if you want the advantage in Happy Wars it may be best to put the cash down for the weapons.
If you tire of playing the online multiplayer mode then you can try out the single-player Story Mode. In the story the two kingdoms are in a never-ending battle due to the dumbest of arguments. Upon the start of the recent war the Princess of the Light Kingdom tries to stop the battle from happening, only to find herself kidnapped by the leader of the Dark Kingdom. A very simple (and overdone) premise, but it has its entertaining moments, especially when the robots come into play. The only issue with Story Mode is that you will need to reach specific level in multiplayer mode in order to unlock the next chapter of the game, so if you’re not a fan of online gaming and are only interested in the tale behind Happy Wars then you are s**t outta luck! (This may sound like a major downside, but it’s really not.)
Usually I’m not a big fan of MMOs (which Happy Wars can constitute as), but I cannot lie when I say that I had a lot more fun playing this online than most of the bigger-named titles’ multiplayer modes. Maybe it’s because it’s funny watching these cutesy characters beat the living bejesus out of each other, or perhaps it can be because the games are evenly-matched nicely depending on the levels of all the characters. Whatever the reason is, Happy Wars is the first MMO I’ve come across that gave me the feeling of “wanting” to return to battle instead of “needing”.
That said there are some flaws in Happy Wars. The fact that there’s only one style of online play may leave some bored after awhile. Thirty-player online modes may sound great, but I greatly noticed a drop in frame rate when too many gamers were onscreen at the same time causing cartoonish carnage. I found that battles with twenty players or below have no visual issues in gameplay, but at the same time it’s difficult to really keep your eye on your character while tons of movement happens in your surrounding areas.
Despite some of these setbacks Happy Wars does have quite a good amount of multiplayer fun for all to take part in. With battles lasting at most fifteen minutes each it gets fairly rewarding whenever you figure out the levels you fight in, let alone the locations of special weapons and other hidden gems that will help you earn a victory on the battlefield.
- Tons of fun customizations
- Battles are long and enjoyable
- Cool worlds, adorable characters
- Only one style of multiplayer
- Frame rate goes down with too many players onscreen
- Paying customers have the advantage all the time
As this was Microsoft’s first time with free-to-play on the Xbox 360 it would’ve been a mistake to think it would have been a knock out of the park. That said Happy Wars has many hours of online gameplay for all to enjoy. Sure it may have only one online battle mode, but when you’re facing an army of funny-looking opponents it’s almost impossible not to enjoy yourself each time you play it. However I do hope Toylogic adds a new mode or two later on in the game’s life; otherwise they may see folks losing interest in playing it, free or not.
FINAL GRADE: 7.6 (out of ten)
Review copy provided by TriplePoint PR
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