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Author Topic: Sabby Reviews: Hammerfight  (Read 344 times)

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Offline SabbyTopic starter

Sabby Reviews: Hammerfight
« on: April 21, 2010, 11:01:14 PM »
I have always been of the firm belief that games need more physics. Yes, it seems every game these days has some kind of system to handle dying enemies and the way that they flop and roll about. But this is all just for appearances sake. How many games truly use physics for anything other then just eye candy?

The answer, is sadly very few. Half Life 2's Combine Gunships are a prime example, the simulated rules of gravity not only handling how it crashes, but also how it evades and suffers damage, leading to far more dynamic and interesting gameplay, then if it were to simply 'switch to' after its health depleted.

Hammerfight, to me, is a dream come true, and an example of what we should all be hoping for in the future of gaming. An indy project now a full retail game, it is honestly an amazing title, and it deserves the attention of anyone who has ever been bored with the torrent of gray, dull muck being paraded about.

Story

It seems a fallen empire from long ago has left technology scattered and buried, steampunkish flying machines being dug out, fixed up and put to use. Three kingdoms in this fantasy realm now rule the earth and the skies in these machines, and true warriors find their glory at the controls of such devices, attaching weapons like flails and blades.

You, a nameless noble and warrior of the House of Griar, have fallen. In the defense of your Kingdom, you have become enslaved, and your once mighty empire lays in ruins. The Griars were always heralded as the greatest warriors the world had to offer, so it was no surprise you found yourself shoved into a chained flying machine and forced to fight other slaves for the amusement of your captors, and the bloodlust of your fellow slaves.

Rising above the simple scrappers, you catch the attention of men in higher positions, and find yourself coming up in this dark new world, both in reputation, and in price. And when finally you are purchased, it seems your new owners have more in store for you then being a simple attack dog... it seems you have a common enemy, and wish to extend a chance at vengeance.

Naturally, you take it.


Artwork/Graphics

Truly stunning sprite work and effects! On the highest setting, weapons leave ghost trails, flying machines spark and gush smoke as if at random, and each fight is accompanied by dramatic and cringe inducing special effects. The lighting systems are quite good as well, explosions casting shadows even from falling debri's, which really adds to the impact of a well places bomb.

The sprites themselves are not pixelated, as you would expect, but hand drawn to minute detail. The same is said of the backgrounds, the vistas, the customizable items, and the speaking portraits of the characters have a very old school Fallout feel to them, facial expressions cycling randomly, as if flappy eyebrows and pursing lips portray words.

This all comes together quite nicely in battles, and while it definitely has an old school quality to it, while not being ugly and slow like 'old school' usually is.


Sound

Honestly, theres much to say here... theres no voice acting to speak off, and the sound effects are suitable for what their portraying. Glancing blows and full, hard impacts, scraping collisions, all the clanking and crashing of battling air machines is done well enough, and in some cases, its above average. Its just a shame that theres no voice work, but considering that they had to translate the text from Russian, I can forgive this :)


Gameplay

THIS is where I take my hand, get my fingers behind your bottom teeth, yank your mouth open and then shove the praise this game deserves roughly down your throat.

Aside from the optional hotkeys for items, your machine is powered by just your mouse. Move to the left, your copter will pitch and then drift lazily. Go darting to the side and then hook upward and it will lurch up and try to fight off its own momentum. This is all you need to play.

With a chain and ball attached, your movements can swing your weapon. Sounds simple enough, but since you actually need to throw some real balancing and momentum juggling in there, a simple sword fight actually takes on the metaphorical foot shuffling and dog circling you get from real one on one combat. No long is it just blocking and then unleashing a memorized combo attack, each dodge or shift can become a counter attack or a parry with the right balancing, and you'll find yourself adapting stances and testing or drawing your enemy into a misstep.

I don't know about any of you, but I haven't played many games where I had to, let alone feel compelled to 'dance' like this. Sure, there's sword fighting games where a bit of shuffling and seeking an opening will pay off, but never have I seen it at such an authentic level.

And this is just scratching the surface. Add in customizable shields and items, destructible environments and the like, and you have a battle system that feels about as real as you can get without the inclusion of a third dimension. Hell, one time my flail missed its mark and got lodged in the wooden beams of a roof, and I had to yank it out, ripping most of the roofing out with it.

The stories I could go on with... dodging a giant worm and slitting its side from nose to tail with a halberd, watching it crash into the wall and collapse under the wreckage, spearing down to impale its fleshy neck, only to watch it shake the burying debris free and tail whip me careening into a wall. Throwing up my shields just in time to get slammed into the roof by its mouth, crunching hard and my blade sliding down its throat.

Swinging my hammer to smack an enemies own weapon from its ship and into the air, darting up and grabbing it, then bringing it down on its head, then using the two hammers to beat the heavily armored ship continuously into a corner, eventually breaking enough of its armor off to finally deliver a final, powerful smash right to its frame.

Batting away an arrow and then bringing your shields up to barge a much more armored ship into a corner, hoping your sword will slip between its plates and stick it in its center, then darting back just in time to avoid its own counter attack, watching its strike hit your own measly shield and sending you crunching hard into a wall.

And thats just the straight up fights! Hammerfight takes full advantage of its physics engine with diverse and interesting mission types. Hacking at giant bee's is just fine, but when they are swarming a blimp you need to protect, just nicking one off of it becomes a much more precise matter. Or how about being chained without a weapon and assailed by three armed ships? Goading them into smacking each other is one thing, but if you can get one to accidentally disarm its comrade, a quick maneuver will see you changing the battle. Or maybe the slavers would prefer to chain you to your enemy! In that case, beat him into submission and then whiplash him into the roofing, then yank him back out for a hard coat-hanger strike!

Yes, I am going on and on, but truly this game deserves my ranting! It is a testament to what I have been saying all these years, that a physics engine can give so much more to a game. Half Life 2 opened my mind to the possibilities years ago, and Hammerfight is just solidifying this.

Buy it. It is a magnificent game, and not only worthy of your time and money, but hopefully an inspiration for the near future. If more developers were to follow its example, we would truly have reached the golden age of gaming.


In Conclusion

PROS
- Great physics engine and good use of it for gameplay
- Beautiful artwork and effects
- Customizable ships
- Fun and dynamic.
- Good sized Campaign and multiplayer options.
- Diverse levels

CONS
-No conventional scrolling levels, only arena type scenarios
-No voice acting
-Occasionally frustrating learning curve

Final Score: 9 out of 10