OSG News

Just wanted to catch you up on a few important OSG news items I missed earlier this week.

First, did you think this was the only blog with extensive coverage of online strategy games Aloriah and Lord of Ultima? Well, think again! Reader Guzzer has his own blog, “Guzzer vs Browser Based Games” and he recently posted a great article about the end of Aloriah’s Midgard server.

Also, Khan Wars has gone to version 3.0, the Dark Embrace. As far as I can tell it’s pretty much the same game, but with a few changes to the graphics. To be fair, I haven’t actuall logged in to version 3.0, because I can’t seem to remember my username / password. But, XS software was kind enough to send me a poem about their new version, so enjoy.

Walking in fog and darkness, through forests, plains and hills,
destiny made me witness the fall of great warriors.
The forces of Darkness rise again, commanded by the Ghost Khan,
proclaiming his evil fame!
Their blades are sharper than ever before
Their masters fearless – as only the bravest must be
They took our dreams, our faith and our trust
And left behind only shadows, tears and mistake



Double Review: Utopia Kingdoms and Khan Wars

Game Site: www.utopiakingdoms.com
Game Developer: Jolt Online

Game Site: www.khanwars.com
Game Developer: XS Software

Rating: Play it!

I stumbled upon a new game the other day: Utopia Kingdoms. The comic-book-style art really grabbed my attention and I was eager to play. It didn’t take further than the opening screen though to realize I had already played this game as Khan Wars. I’m not sure what the relationship is between the two developers, Jolt Online and XS Software, but thought this would be a good opportunity to review two games with one stone.

The games play like your standard OSG. Players will develop their cities by building mines that produce resources, train units, etc. The city layout is predetermined, but beautifully rendered in both games.

The games are heavily geared towards combat. There are a wide variety of troops and troop types. Each troop has a different Power against each troop type (infantry, cavalry, archers, etc.) as well as Life and Range. Because there’s so much more going on than attack and defense, there can be some real strategy involved in raising your army based on who you plan on fighting.

The games let you choose from a number of races, each of which have three different bonuses. For example, Utopia Kingdoms’ Avians get a +10% Wood production, Bonus to Healing units, and 10% cheaper Archers. Khan Wars’ Germans receive a Trading Bonus, 10% cheaper cavalry, and +10% Iron production. On top of that, as you play you gradually gain experience points that give your empire additional bonuses, such as increased morale or increased infantry strength.

I find this level of customization makes the game much more interesting. In most OSG’s, you eventually construct every building in your city, and alot of armies end up being composed of the “best” troops, and so every player’s set-up is pretty much the same. Combat then boils down to who has the most units. Utopia Kingdoms and Khan Wars, however, allow each player’s army to be different, so a well-designed army could possibly defeat a larger, but poorly balanced one.

As mentioned, the graphics are quite appealing, especially Utopia Kingdoms. The UI is also pretty solid and easy to navigate. The only exception is the world map. Both games have a pretty ugly world map that doesn’t really compliment the look of the rest of the game. There’s also the annoying “prove you’re a human” test you have to pass every time you log in. I certainly understand the need for it, so that players don’t create a bot to do their work for them, but it seems that most other OSG’s get by without having such an annoying interruption.

The main downside to the game is the near explicit emphasis on combat. Aside from the standard production buildings, most every other structure is related to combat. There’s no research, little need to trade, and nothing (as far as I know) like Travian’s end-game. This means that in terms of general strategy, the only option is to build a powerful army and start raiding. If that’s what you’re interested in though, these games are choice. It’s worth mentioning that Khan Wars won BBGSite.com’s “Favorite Strategy Game of 2009“, and now that both games are available you can play with whichever graphic style you prefer.