Sparta: War of Empires

management historical war

Sparta: War of Empires brings you to an ancient greek world, where city-states endlessly fight or unite for domination, glory and cash. Apparently, the reference historical setting is the one of the Second Persian War (made famous by the movies), at the time when the greek cities (or poleis) united to face the persian ... read >>


Supremacy 1914

war 1 strategy 1 historical 1

In Supremacy 1914 each player is the leader of one historical nation, and can use diplomacy or force to subjugate enemy territories, build powerful economies, and rule entire continents. Although many other browser-based games promised us the same exciting experience, this game by Bitro Labs is by far above them all. ... read >>

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Anno Online

historical sim management

Anno Online  in short
pros cons
in-depth economics huge waiting walls
good pace limited multiplayer
usable interface
originality 4 details 8
care 7 diversity 6
experience 7 longevity 8
graphics 8 multiplayer 4
would you recommend it?

Anno Online upholds some traditional in-depth economics that made the fortune of this franchise. It is a city-sim set in a Renaissance setting, in some remote part of the New World, and your goal is to build a flourishing network of cities and islands. So far nothing really new, but the detailed representation of your population's demands and outcome is quite surprisingly well conceived. As a game concept is quite standard though: by satisfying the needs of your population, constructing new buildings and managing production, you will progressively unlock new features, other buildings and productions, commerce links, remove the fog of war that splits your island in sectors, and even claim additional islands to connect them to your economic empire via trading routes.

So the focus of Anno Online is on commerce, not on war. And this is good. The key core or your cities is the population. Each pioneer can 'evolve' into a vassal, a merchant, and so on. Hence, each of this tiny Lilliputians wandering around your streets will demand shelter and some basic services (safety, entertainment, etc) for sure, but in exchange he will also provide you the most fundamental thing in a game about commerce: needs. They will eat the food you produce (buying at the local markets, which have to be carefully placed to cover all the city), drink at the tavern, etc. The more they become civilised and wealthy, the more proficuous their needs will be for you. This is how you make money, kids!

At the beginning you can only host visiting ships in your filthy, small port. But eventually, players become active part of the commerce network, and they can upgrade the docks and raise a small commercial fleet. This is inevitable, as you can not grow everything on the same island, so your population's needs will lead you on the sea.

Needless to say, the core of all of this is the city management. Each building has a area of influence, so that its effects and benefits only apply in that neighbourhood. This seems a lot stressing, isn't it? Luckily, you are allowed to move building to reshape your settlement, so you can enjoy playing without caring too much about the future. Also, the game interface is very well conceived, and it helps you a lot with balancing of needs and costs.

Almost all the time you have 2-4 active tasks, normally related to the city development or about delivering goods. They constitute a good source of income, as your productivity will be very low at the beginning.

As expected, there is a lot of waiting in this Anno Online. This is not to be considered a drawback per se, as it is part of every sim-game. However, about 10 hours in you will start to notice that buildings' prices are near to exponential. To cover your city with (say) a new set of taverns, you will need a lot of money and resources.

The pace is however good, and relaxing. There are no wars, no invasion of aliens, no zombie apocalypses, no natural catastrophes, and no..., no pirates. This may induce you to think that Anno Online is an easy game. And probably it is, but it requires some good planning and practice to get the things on rails. The real-time chat is flooded with requests of help by bankrupted majors, but the community seems helpful and decent. This being said, Anno Online feels... easy. Again, not in the economic structure, or in the details, but it is just lacking some good, old fashioned challenge. It will be then more appreciated by casual gamers rather than hardcore sim-players.

I noticed that about every 2-4 minutes some natural resources will spontaneously spawn on the ground (rock and wood), ready to be collected. I assume this is to incentivate connected players to keep the game open in a tab.

As already mentioned, at some point you will hit huge wait-walls. And this is when real currency comes into play. Buying rubies you can considerably speed-up the entire game, even though some of them will be regularly assigned to you for free, as rewards for small tasks. I did not feel the urge of buying any, but I must admit that the pace become slower and slower, so frustrated players may fall into the trap.

Interactions with other players are possible but very limited. Essentially, this looks like a single-player game, in which every city will eventually be alike, and there is not so much competition either (nor incentives to excel). This is most definitely a down point, so the score for the number of player will be used here to reflect this.

Finally, the tutorial is long, but welcomed. By the time I completed it (a few minutes), I already had a good idea of what to do next, which is good in this sort of games.

In conclusion, Anno Online is a good game I would probably recommend to casual players. I personally played almost for 30 hours so far, about 90 minutes per day, split in three sessions. It is not boring (ok, I may be biased as I normally like this type of games) and really well realised. I liked the datails, the music, the palette. However, I encountered some technical issues: differently from the majority of other 2D games, this uses some sort of java/flash interface. When your internet connection is lost (and it happened at least twice per day, on my wifi), the application doesn't seem to notice, so you keep playing a bit before realising that you are wasting you time. This should be most definitely improved.

Anno Online ()
VideoGame > Browser Game (web browser)
Anno Online, historical, sim, management browser game
Score: 57 out of 100

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