Imagine Johnny’s surprise when War of the Roses turned out NOT to be a no holds barred gardening battle to yard supremacy, but a third person sword swinging multiplayer death-stravaganza! Sure, he smashed up a restaurant with a mace, but he still reviewed it. Win win!
War of the Roses
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Genres: Action, RPG
War of the Roses Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
This is that wall I was talking about, where players suitably better equipped than you are resistant to your strikes, all while partitioning your body parts into a lovely autumn arrangement, with some moist, bloody confetti on the side. Early game will have you scrounging around the battlefield, looking for downed allies you can scoop some experience from reviving, or the left behind bodies of vanquished enemies just waiting for an experience hungry newbie to come and finish them off for a couple of bucks.
Third – desperate, careless teammates who put their head down and snuggle up to you and a foe, swinging like three strikes was more a suggestion than a rule.
Fourth – shield bearers who spam a stunning, damaging bash attack that has no cool down (or otherwise broken skills). That is all.
The funny thing is, that with a few provisos, War of the Roses does a pretty good job of making dying fun. It’s still a little buggy, sure, but if you can make it past this four to five hour window, the game starts to feel a little bit more natural, and though you’ll still come head to head with other players who are far and away better equipped than you, but you’ll start to hold your own. Especially if you’re in the company of some decent teammates, who’ll dust you off, pick you up and back you up in a tight corner, hopefully not with a long weapon, because those get jammed up on the walls in the tight corners.
Whatever you do though, stay away from the guys who take themselves too seriously in War of the Roses. In games like Battlefield or Call of Duty, the worst you’ll get from these gents is some profanity, a few homophobic slurs, possibly racist remarks, but War of the Roses? There’s nothing worse than getting teamed up with a guy who whines about honor when he thinks he’s fighting ye-duels-of-auld (of which there are servers dedicated to) when it’s really just a bunch of blokes with sharp objects rolling around in the mud trying to stick each other in the most vulnerable place they can jam the pointy end into. Yes – you’ll find some renaissance faire types in here, in between the other smack talk, and they’re pretty insufferable.
So there are some fun times to be had here. It’s a pretty thrilling experience to go running into a fray of four on one, alone, because your brother in arms needs some backup. You’ll catch maces to the head and drop faster than a Felix Baumgartner (topical!), or sometimes walk out on top wondering how you manage to pull it off, only to catch a crossbow bolt in the ear and go back to the dropping again. But death begets a fast turnaround here, and there’s always some chaos going on around you, so the action doesn’t lull. I would have liked it if there were more maps with more varied layouts, because as it stands the seven they have (one of which is a tournament ground, hardly a map at all) all seem pretty straightforward, and they get repetitive quickly.
Additional good news is that Paradox has announced a permanent team to continue to design content for War of the Roses, with more equipment and game modes coming later this year. That’s good news for future me, but for the moment only 2 game modes, 7 maps, and the limited amount of equipment (not a fan of the progression system, can you tell?) available makes it a pretty tall order to keep me enthralled until that content gets released. What we have is a slightly buggy, decently fun game that could have used some tweaking (technically, mechanically, and skill/equipment wise), a little more robustness, and it could have been a real winner. As it stands now, it’s a pretty swell distraction for a week or two in between the big releases you’re waiting for.
A review copy of War of the Roses was provided to Blistered Thumbs by the publisher for review purposes, and played on a PC for eight hours.
His dream of deathlessly having his head smashed in by a guy with a mace repeatedly in the 1455 battle of St Albans finally fulfilled, Johnny’s medieval attentions may turn instead to mud farming, lice export, or getting into the plague business. If you or your loved ones need the plague something bad, contact Johnny Plague through e-mail or Twitter. You get sick, or you get your money back!
Having been a gamer since 1986 when his father brought home an IBM PCjr with King's Quest and Crossfire included, it seemed destined that PC gaming and Johnny Maloney's life would run parallel forever. Despite his occasional affairs with movies, books, music and single malt scotch, he's never once left the side of his PC. In fact, on a full moon on a friday the thirteenth, if you sit in his old chairs... chills will run up your spine if you say "you fight like a dairy farmer," and you can sometimes hear ghostly whispers in the night respond "how appropriate, you fight like a cow…" -- Attempting to contact Johnny at Johnny@Blisteredthumbs.net may be successful.
War of the Roses Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
Paradox Interactive kind of reminds me of your neighbor’s dog. Not in a chewing up the furniture way but more in a way that he’s usually best appreciated when he isn’t digging through your backyard or trash. What do I mean by that? Paradox Interactive seems to have this knack for picking at genres that already have established kings. Not that only one game can occupy a genre, merely that some of the titles they publish come out the other end as “lite” versions of meatier fare. Their more interesting titles distinguish themselves though, and often keep an admirable air of originality to them, such as Crusader Kings II or Magicka. War of the Roses keeps a little of that air, but can’t help but make me feel like they’ve been digging up some azalea bushes somewhere.
|PROS||Graphics, Mayhem, Immediacy|
|CONS||Maps (Number & Layout), Advancement, Stability|
|WTF?!||I have a honey badger on my helmet. Deal with it.|
In case you didn’t know, War of the Roses is a third person smash ‘em, cut ‘em, spear ‘em, and even crossbow ‘em up. Initially I found it pretty similar to the Mount & Blade series of games, but without the single player campaign during which you rise to the ranks of the elite and command entire armies of cannon fodder to carve out your piece of destiny. Instead, War of the Roses is pretty much as base as you can get with its aims: maneuver your guy into a position to bleed the other guy out. How you do it is pretty much up to you, with no over land map required.
There’s very little else to explain about the gameplay. Your standard WSAD controls apply to a left-button-attack (combined with mouse directions to dictate the swing direction), right-button-parry mouse scheme with a couple extra keys or combination presses to round out a special ability or two. A quick browse of the control layout and you’re pretty much ready to get dying. “Not me, Johnny,” you say “I have a knack for these things we call video games. I can even get to level eight and a billionty.” Trust me, you’re going to die. It’s often gorgeous to look at, but gorgeous slaughter is still hapless death at the hands of ruthless foes.
There’s no real way to prepare yourself for it either. There’s a “Battlegrounds Training Mode” here that really does absolutely nothing but send the worst AI I’ve ever seen at you in lemming like droves. The only thing it pretty much prepares you for is to not look like a TOTAL idiot for the first three minutes of a match when you would otherwise figure out which way you slide the mouse to initiate a strike in that direction. Suffice to say that nobody fights like they coded the computer to fight and in lieu of that, many a corpse you will strew upon the plains of battle. Not your opponents corpses, you understand: yours.
There’s a few reasons why this is the case. We’ll tackle them one by one, with the first being the strange functionality of the weapons. Alarm bells should always ring off whenever someone develops a game that they tout as having the “most realistic swordplay ever seen in a videogame.” What that should often read is “the most hilarious swordplay ever seen in a videogame.” While War of the Roses doesn’t do its melee combat badly (nor does it claim to be the most realistic) by any stretch, it does baffle occasionally; from your character willingly loading the back swing of a weapon through walls that prevent it from unleashing, to instant death when you catch a stray arrow in the back of the ankle (personal experience), you’ll find many moments that make very little to no sense in the greater scheme of the game. These weapons are poorly explained as well, with statistics demonstrated in bar graphs, but actual damage taking the form of numbers. Slash a guy, and 44 appears – well, 44 what? 44 OUT of what? Is 44 good? Nobody knows, and if they do, they aren’t telling you or me.
Second – you have your leveling up/unlocks system. Yea, verily like other online arena games of its ilk, War of the Roses prefers to bestow its greatest treasures upon the players who need the least advantage – the veterans. I’ve stated before that I’m not a huge fan of this type of online play, but I can understand that it means a lot for your core fan base to feel like playing the game has more reward in it than just getting naturally better at dispatching foes, but something doesn’t feel right here. Much of the first hour or so of the game will have you beating your head up against a wall (or sturdy straw peasant hut) repeatedly, with meager experience & gold to show for it. As you make levels, equipment and perks become available to purchase, rather than auto reward you, but the level restrictions on nearly all the equipment and perks drop you into this horrible valley a few levels in, especially if you prefer deathmatch to conquest mode (pro tip: when starting, play conquest mode and capture, capture, capture. The points you get from point capture will give you a leg up on your first few levels). You can’t even spec out your own class for the first few hours of the game, relegating you to cookie cutter, mostly useless templates. When you can purchase your first custom class slot, the equipment available to you is hardly choice.