Age of Hammer Wars Review – Fixed!
This is an updated review of Hammer Wars. The game is now known as Age of Hammer Wars, because of the massive retooling.
First off you have to give new British developer iSquared kudos for trying something a little different with this physics-based game. The idea of bashing your opponents with stonking big hammers, swords and maces while guiding a flying machine through the air is certainly a very appealing one on paper.
In practice though? Not so much, mainly because they seem to have shot themselves in the foot (or should that be smashed their foot with a hammer?!) with the strange control method, which leaves the gameplay being nowhere near as satisfying as it should be.
Essentially, the analog stick does pretty much everything in the game, and that’s where the problem lies. You use it both to move your flying machine and as the main method of attack.
How this works is that you swing your active weapon and strike your opponents with it by making circular movements with the analog stick, either clockwise or anticlockwise. You also use the analog stick to guide your machine at the same time. The movement works really well, especially for a physics-based game, but the method of attack is incredibly frustrating.
If you’re right-handed it just doesn’t feel quite right doing all your main attacking with your left hand. You’re wielding all these brutal-looking mighty hammers and swords, but there’s really no feeling of weight or satisfying heft that you’d expect.
Most gamers are used to using the analog stick for movement of course, but not so much for striking or attacking, and I found that constantly rotating the stick started to feel repetitive fairly quickly. I wish they’d used the control buttons on the right for attacking purposes—I think that would have felt much more natural.
Hammer Wars has two main gameplay modes, Campaign and Free Mission. In Campaign mode, you follow the story of a young warrior called “Maleus.” You start in the village location, where you get a quick tutorial in how to whack seven bells out of the enemy with your hammer.
Aside from the aforementioned analog-stick attack method, you can also throw your weapon with O and get a new weapon with Square. You’ll also find that attacking the enemy earns you tiny coins, which you should make it a point to collect.
At the end of each level in Campaign mode, you’ll be taken to a screen which shows your coin tally. You can then also choose to visit the Warrior Hall, where you can spend your collected coinage on Hammers, Maces, Axes, Swords, Armor and Items such as health and throwing weapons. The strange thing is, though, I made so much money at the beginning of the game that I was able to buy everything in the shop right off the bat, which kind of took away the challenge!
There’s quite a variety of missions in Campaign mode, aside from the usual bash-‘em and crash-‘em, such as escorting the Emperor, where you must keep a check on the Emperor’s life gauge in the top right-hand corner as well as your own. If he perishes, it’s game over.
Free Mission mode is simply playing any levels you’ve unlocked in Campaign mode so far, but without the story element. Not much more exciting than that, really. And that’s pretty much it in terms of getting to grips with Hammer Wars.
It’s not a bad game by any means, it just feels like the controls really let it down in terms of the gameplay. I like how it looks, the intricacy of the backgrounds, the fine detail, the Heath Robinson-style machines and contraptions and the variation in the locations, and the fact that they’ve actually tried to come up with a bit of a story. The music is also very enjoyable too—very atmospheric and suits the location settings really well.
How much Hammer Wars will appeal to you really depends on two things: whether or not you’re a fan of physics-based games, and whether or not you can put up with the analog stick being your main method of attack. In terms of general gameplay, for me there’s just too much plugging away doing the same old thing, swinging your weapon, for it to hold any long-term appeal.
It’s a hard one to score because I think it’s a bit of an acquired taste. It’s frustrating, really, because with a different control system, one where you used a right-hand button to strike, I think this would have been a lot more fun. It certainly had the potential to be a great game, and I look forward to seeing many more Minis from iSquared.
* The controls are now fixed: instead of using the analog stick in swinging your weapon, you can press X for swinging the weapon clockwise and O for swinging it counter-clockwise. The analog’s sole purpose is for movement. The core of the game is the same as the review describes. I can’t really provide a compare and contrast discussion between the two versions since I didn’t have the chance to play the earlier incarnation. This revision is really good on its own. Some may find this game repetitive, but each level is designed carefully not to look or feel the same as its succeeding or preceding level. The reward system is also tweaked; it’s very difficult to gain money in this version, which provides a really spiked difficulty as you progress.