Toylogic's Happy Wars is the first free-to-play game to hit the Xbox Live Marketplace, but despite looking adorable and delightful it doesn't leave you with a want to go back to it.
It came as a surprise to most people when Happy Wars appeared on Xbox 360, it was released like a lot of Xbox Live Arcade titles these days as there was not a huge amount of advertising for it. You would have thought there would have been a lot more advertising with it being free-to-play as it would interest a lot of gamers with the draw of a full-free game plus free achievements.
Happy Wars is a multiplayer-action role-playing-game where playing as a team is its main priority. There are two game modes which allow 15 players on each side equalling a total of 30 little warriors fighting and running around chaotically. Team Deathmatch is the more traditional mode for where as you would expect two teams are automatically assigned to different sides and then they battle it out to win, the other mode is more interesting. Tower Defence which is where players have to make their way across the map to the enemy’s tower, whilst doing so they need to survive in order to defend their own tower.
I found strategic tactics didn’t work most of the time and didn’t seem too important, but it can make things a lot easier for everyone. Obviously you can’t help the people who run off on their own and try and be a one man team, they will most likely get bombarded by 10 little soldiers and die, so working as a team will always work better. In the Tower Defence game mode there are different routes you can take to infiltrate the enemy tower, you can either go through the front door by building a battering ram or scale the walls with ladders. Meanwhile players can construct pillars which can be used as spawn points, although if there is an enemy's pillar already built then it will have to be destroyed first.
There are three main classes in which players can choose to spawn as after they die; Mage which uses long range spells to eradicate the enemy and also give buffs to other players to make them deal more damage. Warrior which as you would expect works as the tank and has you mainly taking part in close combat fights with a series of weapons. Lastly you have the Cleric which is the support class, these are important as they are able to construct the siege weapons and ladders to gain access to the enemy tower, they can also build defensive turrets and also heal team mates.
As characters level up during the battle you unlock new abilities that are automatically assigned to the controller's face buttons, and as your character increases through the levels you can choose what abilities to use. As well as unlocking abilities when you level up you can also equip better gear, during your battles you can get random gear and collect the in-game currency called Happy Stars to spend on better weapons and armour.
Happy Stars allow you take part in minigames that can reward you with new gear, there is also another currency called Happy Tickets which are where you put some of your real-life money in the game. However these are not necessarily better, some paid items come with extra buffs which are not seen on the free gear but apart from that there isn’t a huge difference. The items do change your appearance too but it's a little hard to identify your warrior among the sea of other characters.
There is quite a large customisation section where you can create a more personal and cutesy warrior. You can change them from the bottom up, your male or female warrior can have different facial features such as eyes and mouths, different hair styles and also how they sound when fighting.
It is not the perfect Free-to-Play experience but as it is the first time for a game like this on Xbox Live Arcade it isn't a bad attempt, the few flaws it does have is mainly to do with connectivity issues, and the gameplay is quite repetitive in nature. It can sometimes take around five minutes to join a quick match, and most of the matches are not adequately balanced. The one thing I found most unfortunate is after a little while of playing it I found it too repetitive, I would imagine they're already doing it but it'd be nice to see new levels and game modes added on in patches to keep the interest of players. Despite the few problems it is a fun and exciting game where playing with friends can be very entertaining and worth checking it out as it is free after all.