For those of you who don’t know, Mushroom Wars is a RTS game in which you control armies of soldiers that are grown in Mushrooms and sent to take over other Mushrooms until you are the Lord High Almighty Great Mushroom Ruler who rules over all of the Mushrooms in that particular field.
(I may have made up the rank of Lord High Almighty Great Mushroom Ruler, but you get the idea!)
A popular game, available on PS3, Steam, Android and iOS, it has unsurprisingly spawned a sequel, and that sequel had a beta test last weekend, which I was invited to be a part of. So I eagerly logged into Steam, downloaded the game and started.
And I discovered, very quickly, that I am not very good at this game!
OK, I wasn’t helped by the company I was keeping – the beta was populated by other games reviewers as well as people who had bought the original game and requested a code, so I was battling against people with a lot more experience than me, but this wasn’t a negative thing!
Let’s backpedal a little. Before I jumped into the Multiplayer areas with both feet, I did take part in the helpful training missions so that I understood exactly what each aspect of the game provided you with. And these did a great job of making sure I understood what was going on. The tutorials took me through each aspect of the game, making sure I knew how to attack and upgrade other mushrooms, how to turn them into forges or towers, and what the advantages of each option were.
So after playing all of that, I turned to the multiplayer, picked a character at random and jumped straight into a match. And moments after that, all of my mushrooms had been conquered, and I had lost.
With a new determination I started a second game, this time moving faster and starting to utilise the tactics and abilities that had been shown to me in the tutorials. And I lasted a little bit longer before suffering complete obliteration. So I tried again, and again, and again…
Anyway, you don’t want to hear a blow-by-blow account of every match I played, you want to know what the game is like overall. Well, it’s very good fun! The controls, which are always a key aspect of any game that needs quick reactions like this, are tight and simple to use. All of the keyboard shortcuts are visible onscreen, which is a real help when you’re not a practiced player (as I quickly discovered!), and these apply for choosing what percent of your mushroom-underlings you are sending out when you click (You can choose between 25%, 50%, 75% and all of them) as well as the shortcuts for your character’s special moves.
Yes, each character has four special moves, and once you realise this and figure out which ones suit your play style, you’ll find new and interesting ways to win the match you are playing. The special moves vary, ranging from a move that drops an extra 75 soldiers into whichever of your mushrooms you choose to a move that locks up an enemy mushroom, preventing anyone entering or leaving it for a certain time. Other special moves include teleports, reversing a selection of the enemy soldiers so they go back on themselves, dropping a bomb and destroying a selection of soldiers on the field, doubling your soldiers attack ability and many more.
And these moves really did add a whole new level of tactics to the game as each takes a different amount of time to recharge, meaning you need to use them when they are going to be most effective, as you may not get another chance.
Graphically it is lovely. It has a cartoony-style that really captures the mood of the game and the music and sound effects are perfectly suitable if slightly repetitive.
Most importantly (especially for someone who is as bad at this game as I am), the learning curve is perfect. After every match I lost I felt as if I had learned something, or realised a better way to attack, or found a special move that was a lifesaver for me, and this meant that every game I got that little bit better, until eventually I won a match!
The only negative I found was that there isn’t Mush-Room for error (sorry about that pun, it’s the only one I assure you). Once you’ve started losing the match then nothing short of a miracle (or a significant mistake by your opponent) will allow you to get back up to strength again – but this is common in a lot of games of this type, and I’m certainly not going to hold it against the game.
In conclusion, Mushroom Wars 2 has the makings of a great little game. I became deeply competitive while playing, and although I lost many more matches than I won, there was not one instance where I felt the loss was unfair or that the game was unbalanced in any way, which for a Beta is pretty impressive! After playing for a while I did wish that there was some more obvious progression for you as a player, but obviously that’s something that will come with the full release and its multitude of gameplay modes. I can’t wait to try this game again when it’s finished, and I have high hopes for its full release.