Empires and Allies. The latest game under the umbrella of Zynga (who control games CityVille, Mafia Wars, Farmville, and more), Empires and Allies focuses not only on city building but there’s an aspect of wargaming, where you send your units that you’ve built up, into battle. You can choose to either spend your “energy” on fighting your friends or helping them. By helping friends, you gain Honor points which unlock new bonuses, or you can use your energy to invade friends and get Infamy points.
It’s a nice change to a classic formula. Some people will just enjoy building your little city. Mine looks like this:
You’ve got classic ingredients such as farms that produce food, houses that provide coin (and population), but now you’ve got the addition of things such as barracks and hangars, that create different troop types. As you build troops, you place them around your city and they actually help to defend if your friends try to “invade,” which essentially just gives them resources and some Infamy points, no real downside to being invaded.
I’ve found two things. It is an enjoyable experience but I’m also into wargaming in general, so this is something easily accessible to me. Figuring out which units of mine are best to take against my friend’s tanks is something that I can easily relate to. But I can completely understand for the more casual gamer, this game might seem like too much work or too complicated or that the rewards aren’t worth the effort.
This game won’t appeal to a lot of players. Fans of games like Farmville won’t get into this because it’s harder to navigate battles and strategy. People that may have shrugged off Farmville (and other Zynga titles) might find this game extremely compelling though. It’s just a whole new type of game.
I appreciate the simplicity of combat though and I think they’ve made it enjoyable and yet still pretty easy to control.
I’ve got two planes going up against two zeppelins. Down at the bottom-left, it shows what types of units my planes are best against. My “mustang fighter” is best against cannons, airship carriers, and helicopters. In this battle, I don’t believe zeppelins fall into any of those categories but I was just trying to get a cool screenshot.
See that big green button in the middle? That button unlocks all sorts of “one time” powers you can activate during a fight, that you’ve accumulated from invading/helping neighbors, completing missions, and more. Maybe I’m being overwhelmed, so I click on that button and call down an airstrike. Or maybe I use a radio jammer to make their shots miss me completely. It’s another layer of strategy but, again, pretty easy to navigate, as long as you know it’s there.
This game can be as simple as you want. You can login once a day, make sure your farms are growing crops, and maybe help a friend defend his land. Or, you can login multiple times, invade every neighbor you have, and build up a massive army. It manages to cover both demographics, the hardcore and the casual. But it may take a bit of a leap for either extreme to really buy in. The hardcore gamers will find games that are more engaging and more complicated, whereas the casual gamers won’t want to invest as much time into this game as it might require to level up as quickly as they’re used to with other games.
It’s a solid choice though. I don’t know how much Zynga will put into the game, since it’s likely the numbers won’t ever reach Cityville or Farmville numbers, but for the small but dedicated followers, hopefully they’ll have an engaging experience for awhile to come.