|10-08-2012, 01:22 PM||#1|
Join Date: Oct 2008
[Review] War Of The Roses
Title: War of the Roses
Developer: Fat Shark
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
MSRP: $26.99 on Steam and Amazon
Do you remember Die by the Sword? How about Rune? Remember the Multiplayer? I do. I remember it very fondly. The hack and slash, the timing of your attacks and retreats, getting that vital swing in at just the right moment. Great times. For a while after no fantasy style game came close to sating my barbaric blood-lust in the way Rune's multiplayer did. But then along came Mount and Blade. A game that was all about getting that sword whistling through the air at just the right moment. Then not long after that Mount and Blade: Warband added Multiplayer to the sword and board gameplay, and I felt that Armağan Yavuz had been a fan of Rune and games like it. Here was a game made by a man who loved to feel like they actually controlled their weapon. I spent many an hour raising myself to the throne in Mount and Blade.
But now there's a pretender to the throne. Fat Shark's War of the Roses has arrived on the Battlefield, and it doesn't care about your quest. It just wants to hack you up.
It would be foolish to review War of the Roses without mentioning Mount and Blade, as it is immediately obvious that Roses owes more than a little to the weapon swinging combat of that series. The combat is controlled with the movements of your mouse, swinging you blade from side to side, thrusting, hefting it high, and blocking with the right mouse button. And as with Mount and Blade it works well. Fat Shark have not tried to change too much, knowing that the combat from the M&B series works, people like it so why not use a similar system. But that's where the comparisons end.
I think I can take this guy.
Unlike TaleWorld's imaginary RPG setting, War of the Roses is in a real world setting, during the time of the titular wars, having the player take up arms for the houses of York or Lancaster in its purely multiplayer battles.
The only concession to a single player aspect is a practice mode against some extremely dumb AI, just smart enough to be deadly accurate with a bow. This mode is enough to allow the player to familiarise themselves with the basic controls and gives the opportunity to get to know the battlegrounds a little.
You won't be spending very long in this mode. There's no option to try different classes, class is selected for you dependant on the practice battleground you chose, there's no progression and little challenge. But that's okay. That's not what Roses is about. It's about 64 player battles across the scenery of 15th century England. It's about the clash of steel on steel, the twang of the longbow, the whistle of the crossbow bolt past your ear. It's about stabbing random internet dwellers in the face with a baselard.
Fat Shark have taken their cues from other multiplayer titles that take place on Battlefields, allowing the player to slowly unlock access to classes, weaponry and the like through experience points and in game currency, both of which are gained for every team based action on the battlefield.
Every blow you land onto an enemy awards you with XP and Gold, the stronger the strike the greater the reward. Incapacitating an enemy pays out even more, but simply knocking your enemy to the ground is not enough, he could be revived by his friends. You need to step up and finish the churl! Pressing the E button when next to your downed foe will begin a murderous finishing move, and you will be awarded not only in XP and Gold but in a brutal death animation, which forces your opponent into first person mode so they experience the full viciousness with which they are dispatched to hell, the treasonous dog!
You start your multiplayer career as a lowly footman, armed with a sword, a shield and a dagger. But it will not take you long to unlock more classes. Within a couple of battles you will gain enough XP to unlock Crossbowman, Longbowman and Footknight. A few more levels and you will gain access to your first custom class which you may kit out to suit your preferred playing style. Weapons, armour and perks are unlocked similarly with some being locked by level while others are priced to only be available to those who have earned them in blood.
And the blood you earn them in looks quite nice. Graphically, War of the Roses is not going to be winning any awards. It certainly isn't on a par with many of the triple AAA multiplayer PC games out there, but that is not to say it is an ugly game. When compared, again, with Mount and Blade the game looks far superior. But this seems to come at a cost. While less graphically intensive than other multiplayer titles, Roses runs a little rough. I found my frame rate suffering badly during circumstances that would not usually cause my system to stutter in other games.
You wouldn't hurt little old Squid?
Customizing your soldier is limited, but possible. With the ability to create your own coat of arms to display on your breastplate and shield, while your choice of helm and crest also allows for a little individuality.
The perks that can be added to your custom class are far from cosmetic however, and fall into five categories: Offensive, Defensive, Supportive, Movement and Officer. In the time I have spent with the game the perks seem fairly well balanced. I wasn't able to kit myself out in such a way that I became a walking un-killable arsenal. Not yet at least.
Indeed, the only times the game feels imbalanced is when you face an opposing force that has a lot of mounted players, while your army has only infantry. Mounts are only available as a perk, it's a choice between a horse or reduced weapon encumbrance. Are you quicker with a weapon or do you ride a mighty steed?
If you do come across a mounted army, while your side has chosen mainly infantry then it is easy to become overwhelmed. However this can easily be combated by changing your class or load out accordingly after you've felt a horse's hoof crush your skull. Or by tactics.
And that's where a problem lies. As with all large scale multiplayer games your experience is often driven by the behaviour of the players. When faced with an open field and a large mounted force the sensible tactic would be not to run out into the field. Stick to the village streets where the riders cannot get any speed up, can't manoeuvre and cannot wield his lance properly, then press the attack with polearms. Or hide behind the dry stone walls and pick them off with archers. Or repeatedly skip into the field to present the largest, slowest moving target possible, over and over again.
And then there's the respawn system. Battles can swing drastically in favour of a team very quickly due to the ability to respawn on squad members. This can prove disastrous to the battle as a whole, but also can be quite infuriating on an individual level. After battling valiantly only yourself and one foe remain standing. Facing off over the bodies of your respective companions you steel yourself. It's him or you now. Oh his friends just appeared right next to him and are now flanking me. Bugger.
While useful in Conquest mode, this feature is immensely irritating in Team Death Match.
Oh shi.... eld.
Then again, there are the moments when War of the Roses really shines as a multiplayer experience. In one particular game I charged into battle, one of at least a dozen Footmen, storming down a river bank and wading across in unison. At my back our archers rained death on the advancing force as they rushed down the opposite bank to meet us. Hacking at their legs as they scrambled down, we dispatched them with ease but the sound of hooves thundered over the clashing of swords. To my left a York knight was charging his steed, his lance levelled at me. Then from nowhere a second horse crashed into his, throwing him clear of his mount to land at our feet. In no time at all he was chopped to bits by many Lancastrian swords as our timely knight galloped away, giving chase to the fleeing York scum.
And those times when it's him or you and his friends don't appear right next to him? When you've been part of an intense hand to hand melee and you see off your last foe with a finishing move. These are the moments when the game is at its finest.
Overall Fat Shark's brutal combat can be a lot of fun. It looks nice, plays well and is satisfyingly brutal. At a time when running around with cutting edge technology and a dizzying array of guns is the norm you have to give Fat Shark credit for their attempt to put something different into the multiplayer arena.
It's not without its flaws and bugs, feeling a little rushed. One gets a sense that a month or two of polish would not have gone amiss. And certainly the optimization needed more time.
Yeah, I think he's dead.
With the lack of single player, only seven maps and two game modes the asking price may be a little much for some, too much to ask them to put down their guns and pick up a sword. Especially when there is not a great deal more to it than we have already seen in Mount and Blade: Warband, but then Fat Shark have promised plenty of post release support and regular content. The addition of more game modes, perhaps some siege weaponry, would be very welcome.
If you are a fan of this hack and slash style gameplay then it's certainly worth a look, but if you own Warband it may be worth waiting to see how the content grows.
Score: 3.5 out of 5 CoGs
A fun but limited experience.
|10-08-2012, 08:48 PM||#3|
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Las Vegas
That said, getting a headshot with a crossbow feels awesome. The noises that go off are just so nifty.