Game of Emperors Review
Pros: Great visuals, fairly casual gameplay, plenty of features
Cons: A little too similar to their other title Imperia Online, some mechanics unclear and not covered in the tutorial, no mobile support
We checked out empire building strategy MMO from developers Imperia Online Ltd recently, the medieval themed Game of Emperors; a browser based and free to play it is a casual yet intricate title with some pretty great graphics, feature packed content and a very familiar gameplay feel. In the game we get to play ruler as we build up our own city, construct various buildings and upgrade them, research into new technologies and of course strain up a massive army to field and then go head to head with other players.
The game does have a lot of features, subtle options that make for in many ways a deep and complex strategy, however, the sum of their parts and each individual element is in fact relatively basic, often so much so that it's a little boring. To construct a new building for your city you go to your Town Hall and click the building you want to construct and it is automatically placed (no choice for where to place your buildings), to upgrade it well you just click that build button again. It's the same process for constructing units, researching and upgrading technologies, you click the button and it takes away a bunch of your resources and then a little later you have it. Whilst it's not necessarily a bad way to do it, the problem is that the majority of your gameplay is just spent clicking those buttons and upgrading, that is half of the "gameplay" and that's just not fun.
The other half of the gameplay revolves around combat, at least the building of your army and choosing what type of composition you want, how many of each type of unit (there's around a dozen units spread across different categories such as Infantry, Cavalry, Archery, etc.). You can learn new technologies to boost them through the Military University, whereas the standard University is used to research economy/city based technologies; it seemed cool to be able to choose your focus but the reality is that you simply end up focusing on both at the same time as they can both learn a technology at once so other than the resource cost there's no reason to focus solely on Military or Economy.
So what happens when you've built up an army? You fight of course! Well, the game does, all we go to do was check for a target, click which units we wanted to fight and then send them to attack and the game does the rest with completely automated combat. We click, we wait, we read the battle report to see if we won or not. There's no involvement during the battles, and that's a bit of a shame as once again it reduces the games fun factor incredibly. As a player our job was simply to build an army, use our spies to see what the enemy has in way of defenses and then choose which units to say, the advisors will even tell us if we're likely to lose a fight.
One of the issues we had with the game, and in fairness one that we have with a lot of these types of games, is that you run out of things to do very quickly. With only a set amount of resources and the slow rate at which you acquire new ones, there's only so many buildings, units and technologies you can be working towards at once; you can't build multiple buildings and expand the number of these items you can be working towards; ie. Having multiple Infantry Barracks to push out a ton of infantry quickly; so once you have all your queues going, you can fight a couple of battles until your units are wounded/depleted and then you have nothing to do but wait a few hours before resources are replenished and queues are finished. This actively pushed us out of the game, there was nothing to do and no reason to stay and the game just doesn't welcome long play sessions for a few hours, it is a game where you have to keep checking in to see where your queues are at or waiting on your units to finish their journey across the map for a battle and get the report. This in itself isn't necessarily terrible and it simply highlights the game as being a casual one that you jump in and out of, as it is a browser game we could just log in on our phone to see where things were at, but unfortunately with no supported app and only the default browser we have to say on our Samsung S5 Mini the game is most definitely not optimized for mobile play and was so frustrating that it forced us to go back to the PC to check things.
For a genre that is pretty full with this type of game we will say that GoE doesn't break the mold and sticks to a fairly typical/traditional gameplay, though it is heavy on features there is nothing there that we haven't seen in plenty of other games of this type. One game especially stands out and that is Imperia Online (developed by Imperia Online Ltd, obviously), other than the different graphical style, which admittedly is great, Game or Emperors' core features and gameplay seemed to almost clone the developers other title.
If these types of strategy game are your thing then, for all the complaints, we will say that it's actually not a bad little game and whilst it's not the most original at least what it does do it does well; anyone jumping into the game will get what they expect and will no doubt enjoy the strategy element behind it.