Bang Howdy is a free online multiplayer game with a wild-west theme. It is a tactical strategy game that introduces an innovative hybrid between turn-based and real time modes of play.
Pick a squad of units (each with its own unique characteristics and abilities) lead by your ‘hero’ unit, and wage battle against other teams in a series of skitmishes in an isometric 3D setting. Depending on the scenario, the objectives vary but center around collecting the most resources (gold, cattle, towers for terriroty) or accomplishing certain goals.
The more successful player scores the most points, and the objective is to garner the most points before the clock runs out. Good performance earns cash, was can be used to upgrade your unit and/or buy practical items that can be used be used on the battlefield.
There are 5 unique wild-west settings to play through, and each introduces new units, features, and scenarios to play through.
Many of the typical elements you would expect in a strategy game are present in bang howdy; knowing your units strengths and weaknesses and planning accordingly will enable you to successfully engage your opponents in a kind of ongoing rock-scissors-stone calculus. Some units, for example, have a longer range that they could travel per ‘turn’ than others, while others deliver more damage when attacking (or can sustain more damage). Some units are more effective against melee or mounted or ariborne units (yes there is an airborne unit), etc.
The biggest innovation with Bang Howdy is the way it combines real time strategy with turn based elemenets. Each unit has two “gauges” associated with it. The first of these is the typical “energy” gauge that depletes whever the unit sustains damage, until the unit “dies” and has to respawn at the nearest base. The second gauge is a timer for when the unit can take action. For example, it you use one of your units to blast an enemy unit, you can then command it to move to another location on the map (or shoot again, or whatever) but the unit will not actually perform this action until their timer re-charges, which takes approximately 20 seconds. This results in an interesting mesh of real-time and turn based modes, for while both you and your opponents play simultaneously without waiting for each other’s turns to finish, each one of your units does have a “turn” that you have to wait through, with the added twist that the faster you take action (the faster you execute a command) the more turns you are going to get out of your units during the game duration.
The verdict: While this RTS/turn-based hybrid makes Bang Howdy a very original and innovative game, I am unsure as to how much value it adds in terms of gameplay. I guess it could go both ways: if you like more complexity to wrap your mind around then you will probably really like this system; for myself I must admit that I am a big fan of turn-based gaming, and would have probably preffered to keep things simple. I do realize, however, that a turn based Bang Howdy would make it yet another Worms clone played in an Isometric 3D environment, and not vert interesting conceptually as a game.
Overall I would say that Bang Howdy is a very entertaining game in its own right that is very well made with enormous attention to detail. My only gripe is that there were a few times when I logged in to play this game (at around 10pm Pacific US time) and was not able to find other players to play with (the game will eventually provide a computer opponent, but the points scored in that situation apparently do not influence your rankings).
Note: you have to create an account to play this game, which includes providing a valid email address. You can play the game within your browser or otherwise download a game client that installs locally. An internet connection is required at all times.
Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux; or within browser; requires JAVA; 1Ghz Processor, 512MB of RAM, 64MB Video Card, OpenGL 1.2 Compliant Video Drivers, Internet access.