Published on October 10th, 2012 | by Mark Gibson, Editor/Community Manager
War of the Roses Review
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Genre: Action, multiplayer
Review Notes: A copy of the game was received for review purposes.
The War of the Roses was a violent and bloody war over the Throne of England between the Lancasters and the Yorks, during the years of 1455-1485. The symbols of each royal house were red and white roses. Thus, the War of the Roses became history.
Paradox Interactive made its mark on the medieval video game genre with King Arthur and Crusader Kings. However, The War of the Roses takes a new approach to the battlefield genre. You won’t find any story modes or careers; no dialogue, or narrative. Just two game modes: battle training and multiplayer. It’s a big step to charge $29.99 for a game that is just a third-person multiplayer and you would expect a lot more for the price. But, alas, War of the Roses does not necessarily stand up to those expectations.
You start as a basic foot soldier, earn experience points and gold which you use to upgrade your weapons, armor, special abilities and eventually unlock new characters such as archers and knights. The equipment and character building is unique where you can even choose which metal your sword is made out of. You can fully customize your coat of arms, which was one of my personal favorite aspects of the game. There is a wide variety of customization for your coat, so seeing the same shield on the battlefield is highly unlikely.
The drawback to unlocking everything is that you can pretty much do this in a day. A few hours spent in some multiplayer combat, and you will earn enough XP and gold to max out your characters and armory. This causes concern in player incentive and replay value.
When you get past the RPG elements of building your soldier, you will discover that the multiplayer gameplay has its ups and downs.
There are only a handful of player maps and only two multiplayer modes to choose from: Deathmatch or Conquest. The battle gameplay is a lot like a battle in third-person mode on Skyrim. That being so, you will notice that hand to hand combat is a bit of a challenge. There is no way to actually lock onto a target, which make power swings difficult to land. When fighting in a big group, it can become slightly disorienting keeping an eye out for oncoming attacks while trying to focus on one enemy at a time. However, one on one combat can be tense at times and last for some time until one player makes the mistake of not raising their shield at the right moment.
There is a learning curve to the combat. Because the game is based on a real war, the developer tweaked the gameplay to mimic that realism. Your soldier can become fatigued when wielding a heavy weapon, crossbows take a long time reload and certain armor can deflect arrows. The archery is very precise– there is no “close enough” when firing the bow. You will need to be right on the money with your shot to yield any sort of satisfying results. This can be frustrating challenge, but with some time, you can get the hang of combat.
There are a few aspects of the multiplayer that become a hindrance, the biggest being no health bar. Usually when your health is low you know to bail on the battle and try to retreat, or take your chance and power through. Instead, you are notified by a message that pops up in the middle of the screen that screams “select B to use your bandages!” Not exactly the most efficient way for the game to let you know your health is low, as you will not even get any fair warning that you are at half health. The other issue is that there is no mini map to help find combat. You could be wandering around for a while in some cases looking for a big battle cluster.
War of the Roses is one of those games that starts out with promise, but ends in disappointment. With all of the potential that this game has, there are too many aspects that miss the mark, including a single player campaign that takes you through the major events of the war would make the price tag more justifiable.
For a game sold as only third-person multiplayer, War of the Roses is just a “big OK.”
[xrr label=”Rating: 6/10″ rating= 6/10]
+ Great theme for a multiplayer game
+ Customizable armor, weapons and coat of arms
– No single player campaign, only multiplayer
– Some combat elements can be tricky and annoying
– No health bar or mini map in gameplay