Happy Wars (Xbox 360) Reviews

This review has 39 positive votes and 16 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Free to Play is a new area of gaming on the Xbox system. The first of three announced games is Happy Wars. The game plays as a giant 15 vs 15 tower defense/capture with three classes. The key to the game is teamwork, especially in larger conflicts.

Gameplay: The basic VS. game plays as follows: Pick a class, join a team, capture towers, and capture castle while slaughtering everyone on the other side. However, you quickly learn that you must have a team that works together and knows how to use both individual and team skills to accomplish the goal.

Co-Op is the same as above except one side will be filled with bots sticking to a theme, and you fight for three rounds. This can be easy or difficult depending on what they throw at you. Nothing is worse than a team of warriors with rush attack or a team of mages throwing lightening everywhere. Again team strategy is vital.

Single Player pits you in different challenges and tells a story of a princess captured. The story unfolds as you rank up, and each challenge offers special loot for completion.

Graphics: The game isn't going to win any awards for style, but the graphics convey what they need to. The camera can be a little wonky, especially when leaving the castle or dealing with trees and landscaping.

Micro-transactions: As of when I started playing, you were given 45 free Tickets (unfortunately, this no longer seems to be the case). This allowed a smart player to pick up a premium item, satisfying the achievement. I have yet to see anything that would compel me to spend money. The tickets are used to purchase weapon unlocks, character customization, or to avoid a grind in leveling equipment. Currently however, the equipment can be earned just by playing the game and single player story.

Final Thoughts: This will be a game that lives or dies by it's community and how they handle the micro-transactions. Currently the servers seem to be wonky as i find myself frequently disconnected while matchmaking or just booted in the middle of a game. This is a major issue that needs to be addressed and quickly since the game depends on matchmaking.

The game on the surface appears to be just a simple hack-and-slash but there is a balance to be struck. I have seen high-ranking teams lose to bots because everyone wanted to just go their own way. While they pursued their odd goals, the bot team got to their castle and defeated them. I've also seen low level characters dominate better equipped ones by intelligently using skills and team skills.

EDIT: Noted that they are no longer handing out free tickets. Sorry if there was confusion.

EDIT (2013 Jan 19): The matchmaking issues seem to have been resolved in a recent patch, and the developer seems to be actively supporting the title.

There is also a new mode that has been added to the gameplay for Co-Op that involves fighting powered up versions of the AI, along with Boss enemies for the chance at random loot that seems to change monthly. It makes for a nice addition.

The apparent continued support for this game, along with the improvements made to it has caused me to modify my original score since they addressed most of the issues I had with it. This is now more of a 4 star than a 3 star game, especially when you factor in the price.
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93,709 (52,053)
TA Score for this game: 911
Posted on 17 December 12 at 01:57, Edited on 18 December 12 at 12:40
This review has 26 positive votes and 7 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Happy Wars is something of a basic version of PC luminary DOTA 2, with teams (of 16!) attempting to cross a map to destroy their opponents' base. It's got something of a fantasy setting, with character classes of Mage (ranged and weapon enchantment), Cleric (healing and castle defence/offence), and Warrior (melee). Whilst your characters have a shared levelling system, you also get a to level up per-battle, unlocking extra skills as you fight. With matches lasting about 10 minutes, the closing stages are often pyrotechnic shows of some of the more powerful Team SKills, with tornadoes and meteors filling the skies.

Graphically it's a mixed bag, with a cartoon style and some lovely level art giving it a certain charm, but this is obfuscated by a god-awful camera that seems intent on looking at everything except the action. Important UI details like the mage's targeting marker are often lost beneath all this glitz, which is a real shame.

Happy Wars main, err, 'selling point', is that it's entirely free. Well, ToyLogic absolutely wants you to spend money at every juncture, but almost everything that can be bought can also be earned through the slow acquisition of 'Happy Stars' through normal gameplay. Frankly, the idea of paying money so you don't have to the play the game as much seems a strange one to me, but that's presumably one of many reasons why I'm yet to make my fortune.

There is something of a single player, but it's not much more than AI variations of the mutliplayer, and won't hold your attention for longer than the achievements require. It's also punctuated by some truly awful cut-scenes, which may well have been funny before they were sent through google-translate, but are a hot mess of nothing now.

All that said, it's a fun concept and is an excellent way to wind-down after an intense session of -insert your online game of choice here-. There's a real slow build to getting all the decent loot, and although it rarely seems to make much an impact in the actual game, I can't get enough of watching numbers go up. However, there is this one minor thing...

...I was holding off this review for a while because this game came out in a fundamentally broken state. On release, the matchmaking was flawed to the point of farce, with it taking far longer to connect to a game than it would to finish one. Once you were in, the teams were often 3 or 4 level 1 players, versus a full complement of level 30+s. An excusatory note was there on the main screens ticker, but this same message may has well have stayed there as, despite numerous patches, two months on Happy Wars still feels like beta software.

At the time of writing (17th December 2012), the matchmaking is much healthier, but I still regularly get full lock-ups, and lost connections mid-battle (particularly at the end). The Team Skills, previously such an important part of the game's ebb and flow, are now impossible to launch as players are immediately kicked out of them when they try to join.

As such, this is still a game with many issues, and it's difficult to assume this situation is going to change when 2 months down the line, ToyLogic have still been found wanting, despite putting clear effort into patching their software. It's free, and there's fun to be had, but it mainly serves as evidence that often it's best to just spend money on something that works.
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