Still, developers iSquared should be acknowledged for their attempt.

After several minutes with British developer iSquared's Hammer Wars, there's yet another strong case for the second analogue nub. See, being a Playstation Mini, despite working on the PS3, Hammer Wars is limited to the PSP's control scheme. That means one stick, and lousy controls.

Allow us to explain: Hammer Wars put you in control of a mechanical flying contraption. Said contraption is hooked up with a rather vicious hammer - though later unlocks allow you to attach a maces, swords and other interesting melee weapons. The game plays pretty much solely on the analogue nub: offering both full control of your ship and the physics of its swinging arsenal. So, moving the ship in a circular motion affects the physics of the swinging hammer, allowing you to smash up an array of floating nasties. On paper, it sounds cool. Even in practice, it sort of works. Movement is incredibly fluid, and the physics react exactly as you'd expect them to. It's just, the attacks simply don't "feel" right.

Despite the game trying to give you as much visual feedback as possible, the attacks feel weak. Even though you're hunking a great stonking hammer underneath your ship, a powerful strike seems incredibly tame. There's no weight or satisfaction from attacking in this way and it feels unnatural. There's also the problem that movement and melee are assigned to the same stick, making precise movement and attacking pretty much impossible. Sure, there's a learning curve you can adapt to, but it's easy to imagine a control scheme where the left stick dealt movement and the right hammer blows that would be much improved. Perhaps it's not fair to criticise iSquared on a hardware limitation, but it's pretty hard to see past despite the valiant efforts they've made in getting Hammer Wars to work on a single stick.


Outside of the issues though, there's a decent game here. The aesthetic conjures stark imagery of an industrious, romanticised era, and there's some good variety to the game's rather lengthy campaign. As an original game, Hammer Wars should be acknowledged for trying something wildly different. It's just a shame the controls aren't quite as tight and rewarding as intended.