Top critical review
Skill is not unlock - but gear still is
on March 7, 2013
Basically this game's claim to fame is that it takes skill - or at least that's what they'd like you to believe. The bottom line is you'll need to invest a bit of time in order to unlock gear to be viable, and the stock characters that they provide you are simply not going to do it. The game is fun, to a degree, but certainly not balanced to a level where it is truly about "skill".
For starters, you'll find out very quickly that shields are the absolute height of frustration in the game. Regardless of what you're wielding, it is possible for your opponent (or you) to simply hold down the right mouse button and survive near indefinitely, sometimes even against 4-5 people at a time. Couple that shield with a malaneese axe and you're basically going to go down unless both of you are cheesing with the axe/shield combo, in which case you will most likely just end up abandoning the fight altogether. Sadly, there's really no way around this, and even with the shield breaker perk and a halberd equipped, trying to take down your opponents shield will just score you a quick death-stab to the gut.
Moreover, hit-boxes for some weapons are extremely bizarre. At times you'll find yourself landing perfect shots with a halberd and getting nothing (the hitbox is theoretically at the tip of the weapon) - and other times you'll end up tearing through an opponent in one hit while you're hugging shoulders (where your halberd should never have registered a hit).
Damage counters are also very strange at times, you would think a fully-charged overhead attack to an archer's head while their back is turned to you would register an instant-kill, but more often than not, it will do about 30~ damage to what is around 100 hp per unit, give or take, while using a two-handed weapon.
Balance issues aside, the game is not an easy load-up. Even at the lowest settings, War of the Roses is fairly taxing, especially if you've got a low or mid-tier setup, and I would not recommend trying to run this on a laptop, unless you've got a beast, because it will be straining hard to keep up with the demands of the game, especially on snow maps.
Overall, a decent game, and certainly worth a 5$ price-tag if you can get it on sale, but definitely wait for the sale, you'll likely find yourself with a bit of buyer's remorse at full retail.