By Rick Charbs (Jammart), OnRPG Journalist
Bang! Howdy is a free to play browser based MMORPG set in a western theme. Built with loads of humour in a witty atmosphere, this game is sure to please many. Released back in late 2006, Bang! Howdy still shows signs of growth and improvement and remains consistent in said elements. The game is fairly simple; it uses elements from RPG and from RTS (real time strategy) games, and combines them to create something fairly unique and fairly confusing. The game is set based on turns between you and your opponent, but various systems make it seem as though you are fighting real-time.
Of course, I won't be getting into detail with this feature, although it is not that difficult to master. Each character has a set amount of moves available in a certain period of time, and thus turns don't really exist in the game as much as one would think. This only means both sides can use up their turns simultaneously as the controlled characters are given set times separately rather than the opponents themselves. The learning curve is tiny-don't worry about it (unless you are not familiar with tactical games... but that's what the tutorials are for-and there are plenty)!
Bang! Howdy can be played in a single player mode or in 1-4 player battle series that last roughly ten minutes each. The single player mode offers many different mission based challenges. You have to reach certain goals in order to move on to more difficult challenges. Currently, the game packs a huge variety of challenges within two towns: Frontier Town and the Indian Trading Post. They both offer different environments to play from, being either the western cowboy scene or the native tribal area. I'll give you a quick rundown on four of the game modes in the Frontier Town.
Firstly, Gold Rush is a capture the flag type of game involving gold nuggets scattered through the map. Your goal is to capture as many possible until the time limit of the game ends. You have to pick them up and bring them back to your claim in order to keep them from thieves. If the gold nugget holder dies before reaching your claim, the assassin of your victimized character will gain that gold nugget for himself!
Another game mode, similar to Gold Rush, is Claim Jumping. The only difference between these two modes is that, in Claim Jumping, you begin with 3 pieces of gold in each players claim, and you have to fight to protect your three and steal from your opponents claim.
Cattle Rustling is a pretty unique game mode I must say! Your goal is to brand as many cows on the map before your time runs up. The catch is that only one type of character in your arsenal can brand them (the big shot character). Cows run away from you, making branding them quite difficult. Evidently, the player with the most branded cows wins.
Land Grab is another game mode that heavily involves the big shot character. The goal in this game is simple: you have to destroy your opponent's land claim and then protect your as well as your newly obtained land claim. This can be quite confusing if you play with three other people.
However, there is much more to Bang! Howdy than game modes. The game consists of a very elaborate ranking system based on how you play the game, a pretty varied customization for your character's avatar, a medal/badge system to flaunt your accomplishments, the Back Parlor (a social chatting area),
Graphics and Sound
For a browser game, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised in terms of the graphics and sound in Bang! Howdy. The character model graphics are comparable to Runescape but in a more smooth style, and the concept art matches the game's humorous theme excellently. The graphics are simple and thus the game runs very well on pretty much any machine. The sound is very subtle, but it adds to the atmosphere of the game. The background music is upbeat and entertaining whilst the game sounds are not too overdone and I never felt the need to mute them even if they got a little repetitive. Needless to say, this is one of the best browser based games in terms of graphics and sound; no doubt about it!
Again, paying no real interest to strategy based games, I still have to credit a ton of respect to this browser based MMO. I am really surprised of how well it was made, and that I did not even know of its existence until a few weeks ago. Goes to show how their recent wave of advertisement has really made a difference!
The gameplay offered in the game is extremely simple and can be played in increments of 5-10 minutes at a time. Thus, the game is extremely casual and you can pick it up anytime as it is browser based (no download required ever, unless you decide you want to be able to access it right off your desktop). Bang! Howdy features a lot of content in a small package, something gamers with lower end computer or time restraints strive for. The game is completely free, too, but you are given the option to pay for premium items. This ensures that they get some revenue-the game definitely does not pay for itself. Thee Rings, developers of Bang! Howdy makes the billing process extremely simple.
Unfortunately, the social aspect of the game is flawed and does need some work. The avatar customization is almost pointless as hardly anyone really gets a look at your avatar, the chatting system of the game is minimal, and there is no ability to trade with other players in the game. From a single player point of view though, I highly recommend the game. You can even play with three others without paying any attention to the rest of the social aspect of the game. Happy gaming!
-Simple and unique
-Great concept art
-Lots of content for a browser based game
-Playable single player or multiplayer (1-4).
-Social aspect needs work
-Small player base.