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Review: Mushroom Wars 2 (PC)By Renan At 06.10.2017 12:59

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Mushroom Wars 2 isn't revolutionary. It's an RTS with multiple heroes, an emphasis seizing an entire map, and fairly straightforward campaign with a few challenges here and there. A game doesn't need to be revolutionary to be great, however. The mushroom-themed RTS may be lacking in innovation, but it excels in being a well rounded, polished product.

Single player consists of four campaigns covering the four mushroom tribes. Each tribe has their own set of heroes, but there's an internal consistency that allows each tribe's heroes to feel similar enough to each other without coming off as derivative. A hero's skills can only be activated by filling up the special bar, and the special bar is only filled by sacrificing units on the battlefield. Death is expected and necessary in making progress.

In a way, it's this sense of sacrifice with every move that makes each map truly feel like a war. Other RTS titles have shown off the brutality of war, but it's a bit more striking when it comes from cutesy mushrooms. Since there are so many units on field at once, soldiers can be set out in fourths. 100%, 75%, 50%, or 25% of any squad can be toggled with to attack the enemy while also holding down the fort.

Along with the general combat, there's a degree of resource management, as is to be expected of a modern RTS. Buildings can be captured and then upgraded to better fulfill their roles. A village can be upgraded to produce soldiers faster while a tower can be upgraded to increase their radius in order to more accurately snipe advancing enemy units.

Mushroom Wars 2's tutorial does an astonishingly excellent job at pacing out the mechanics and ensuring they are all understood before the campaign truly begins. Each mission is quick with no distracting filler text. All that's present is a charming backdrop and a simple goal to learn how to play. Many tutorials are overloaded with information right off the bat, but it all comes out gradually and naturally here. By separating each tutorial into its own individual mission, it never feels like progress isn't being made within the campaign.

While the tutorial is easy to get through, it doesn't take long for the campaign to actually start offering a challenge. Just a few missions in and it already demands legitimate strategy. It isn't difficult for the sake of difficulty, however; it's a genuine call of mastery while also promoting creative thinking. It does exactly what an RTS should do.

Perhaps because of its iOS origins, making any move feels incredibly responsive, thanks in large part to a crisp UI. Every pivotal piece of information one would need to manage an army is laid out clearly on the screen. There's no need to toggle through cumbersome menus or read small font text to understand what a skill does. It's simplicity at its finest. Some might feel the lack of world-building and in-depth details, but this quicker approach allows for fast-paced management, and speed is incredibly important in Mushroom Wars 2.

The flow of battle demands movement; staying stagnant will only lead to sure defeat. It's an idea implied right away with the ability bar. Since it can only be filled with the death of soldiers that means combat needs to be a constant for higher level strategies to work. Quick thinking and fast reflexes are rewarded. It can be overwhelming not being able to take a breath and assess a situation, but the chaos does lead to more impulsive strategies that, in turn, lead to more interesting matches.

Larger groups, likewise, lead to incredibly compelling matchups. 1v1 does its job well enough, but it's clear that the meat of the game is in 2v2 and four-player matches. With more heroes on the field, the tide turns from taking down one opponent to figuring out how to survive against three. It's not a new idea for the genre, but it's one that's handled well here. Balancing offence with defence is necessary, and it naturally leads to learning new tactics even by just observing the opponent.

The only big downside is just how much of each match revolves around capturing other buildings. There's really no way around it as it is a sure enough way to make use of the genre, but the samey objectives do lose their lustre. That being said, though, the core gameplay is strong enough to cover up that weakness for the most part. When so much of each match emphasises hectic movement, it's difficult to get caught up in the minor details.

At its core, Mushroom Wars 2 is a simple RTS with a nice aesthetic and a great deal of polish. It does nothing new, but it encourages deeper levels of strategic play in a clean environment. At the end of day, it's more important for a videogame to be good than it is for it to be revolutionary.

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Final Score
[i]Mushroom Wars 2[/i] is a surprising balance of charm and depth, offering new ideas and new ways to play at every turn. The campaign offers the right amount of challenge without being overwhelming, and the tutorial is excellently paced, ensuring that all the mechanics are understood before they are put to use. A clean UI and smooth controls keep every match responsive. While most of the gameplay boils down to a capture the flag style objective, the multiple heroes' unique skills allow for plenty of variety in strategy. [i]Mushroom Wars 2[/i] isn't a groundbreaking RTS, and it won't be changing the genre in any major ways, but it does stand out as a particularly strong title that's more than worth investing a few hours into.



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