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Review: Happy Wars
A lot of people have absolutely no idea what this game is. And it makes sense that it wouldn’t reach a lot of people’s radar on console. The reason being? It’s the first Free-to-Play (F2P) game on the Xbox Live Arcade. Nifty, right?
From developer Toylogic, it’s a multiplayer action game in a genre that’s only traditionally been seen on PC. That’s what I think intrigued me the most. Could a F2P mentality even work on a console? Surprise me to say, there have been a good number of people trying it out. I haven’t run into the same person twice when I’ve jumped from lobby to lobby.
Now it’s important to note, this game is free-to-play for Xbox Live Gold members only.
The game allows you to play as 3 separate character classes: warrior, cleric, and mage. A bit like a MMO, your warrior is all about physical damage, the cleric is a healer, and the mage has all your ranged damage through magic attacks. Of course, all 3 have the ability to straight out whack someone with their weapon of choice when in close range. I actually found that while I inherently prefer the mage (magic and all that), I pretty much switch between all 3 of them in nearly every match. Each character has a traditional attack (with their weapon of choice), plus 3 special abilities.
Now there is a tutorial for each class and a relatively short and unimportant single player story (or rather, I’ve hardly played it). The real fun of this game exists in the multiplayer.
So the goal of the online multiplayer? Defend your castle, build towers, and take the opposing force’s castle. A seemingly easy task that can be way more difficult. Some matches ended by time. In that case, the winner is the team with more towers currently held. Otherwise, it’s whichever team destroys the opposing force’s “big tower” (aka the one in your castle) first.
Castles can be entered by either destroying the castle door (no easy feat) or having a cleric summon building materials for a ladder (of which 2 can be constructed per castle). Laying siege to a castle is nearly as difficult as fighting your way there in the first place.
In each online match your character starts at level 1 and building towers, items, and defeating enemies gives you experience to level up in match. This will unlock additional options for your special abilities, which are normally different variations of each one. For the mage, your first ability is to add an elemental effect to your own and allies weapons (when cast). Normally you start with one and leveling up in match can open more.
Additionally, one of these three abilities is a team ability. When you start it, circles appear on the ground that team members can jump in to improve the strength and effectiveness of whatever you’re about to do. Examples are creating a giant tornado, turning enemies into flowers, shooting a barrage of light arrows, and temporarily increasing the participants strength and attack power.
You as an online individual (so me as Ladyluck or Pete as Peterocc) has a rank as well that increases as we get points and complete challenges in each match. So while my characters start as a 1 in each match, I may be a level 8 (at that point in time). It allows you to build as a player within each match and evens the field for newcomers to the game.
The character designs are quite cartoony and the wide range of weapons and gear simplistically divided into 5 categories makes it amusing to clothe your fighters. Add to that “maps” which didn’t really get boring with size, travel, and design variety and it’s pretty solid. Currency is in Happy Stars and Happy Tickets, both of which can be used to buy or get items and upgrades.
On screen can get a little crazy if a whole lot of people are having a massive fight in one place. However, I found it fun and at times felt like I might in an MMO when a battle with numerous participants happens on screen.
- Easy controls
- Doesn’t take itself seriously
- Variety in locales
- Maps are balanced – no spawn has an advantage over another
- All classes are easy to use
- Single player is pretty unimportant
- Some features of the game are not explained well
- Takes a while to build your gear inventory
- Online can be like a free for all with no team coordination
The Final Word
It’s definitely not a AAA title, but hey, it’s free! For the first free-to-play game to release on Xbox, I think they didn’t do too shabby. And while it may not be the best game you’ve ever played, it’s worth some amusement and a few laughs (especially with friends). So I say pick it up! What’s it going to cost you but a few minutes for it to download onto your system? And if you do, let me know. For straight entertainment value and minimum thought required, this game does well.