TLDR: Good concept, bad implementation.
Hammerfight tests your skill at flying a steampunk helicopter (best description I can think of for someone who hasn't actually seen one), which seems to be refered to as a "machine" while attatched to various devices of war which you swing via the momentum imparted by moving your machine. You use this as a weapon in combat aginst whoever is thrown at you.
This review centres around mouse contol as it is the only control in the game.
Note: I played the opening chapter of this game while it was free on Steam which was as far as I could before it became thoroughly frustrating. Not due to the game being hard, but because of the many initial obstacles are due to implementation.
Once calibrated, my mouse (Logitech G5 gaming mouse) was able to give me a distinct and measurable feel in moving the machine around, which is great, the initial close quarters fight felt intense and I felt like I had good distinct control over the momentum of my weapon.
That sounds like great implementation. What's wrong with it?
As I progressed through the chapter, I was pitted against more and more foes simultaneously, on progressively larger battlefields. My high precision movements covered a tiny area, and with no other controls than the mouse, I found myself pounding my desk with my mouse as I pick it up to move it back to a comfortable position.
Why not recalibrate your mouse?
Okay, So I started again, manually calibrated the mouse to give me greater freedom of movement.
Panned in the first fight. Why? That smooth distinct control over the momentum of my machine had gone. But I could move around at pace. A few calibrations later, I still couldn't find an acceptable balance between pace, control and not having to pick the mouse up every time I want to move.
Which brings me to the enemies knockback. When an enemy stikes you, you go flying, not surprising at all, and not a huge problem in game, but you guessed it, you're gonna have to move the mouse if you want to get out of that corner (the sky has corners right? I'll get back to this in a minute.) and this simply added to the wrist flicking madness.
Maybe your setup is poor? Do you have a tiny desk?
Nope. I have two 23inch widescreens, wih room for a third if I really wanted it and the entire width of the 2nd monitor is where my mouse lies.
Something just occured to me, time to Google.
I'm amazed, this game is NOT a port of a touchscreen tablet title. Which seems absurd, as it occurs to me a touchscreen would be a perfect control method for this type of singe control game.
Enough with the controls, what's the rest of the game like?
Visually, I like it, the menus are crisp, the setting seems familiar yet unique, (Think Tatooine, but with apparent unlimited access to trees.) The inspiration for the characterisation seems middle-eastern, and the ideas of fame glory being important seem to fit well. The opening does not seem to do justice to the potential of the game, with the first three fights contested in or near grey mountainous regions, and with the grey brown machines, you can easily lose both yourself and your enemies.
Mechanically, it CAN be good and fun, but I would say only as fun as conkers. (for those of you who didn't grow up in England, we put large seeds on the end of a length of string and take turns bashing them against each other until one breaks.) However, getting back to an earlier point, having the near infinite expanse of the sky to fight in, hitting "the edge" is terrible for a sense of immersion.
Probably not worth your time, as of 7th May 2014.