Game Site: www.evony.com
Game Developer: Evony LLC
Rating: Worth Checking Out
Evony Age II seems to be a pretty standard online strategy game. While it doesn’t really offer anything innovative or brilliant to the genre it does include all the regular game elements and executes them fairly well. Evony Age II really isn’t a different game than Evony; it’s more like an update. There are some improved graphics, a slightly different UI scheme, and a few new quests, but the core elements are all the same.
As with most OSG’s, you have a “City” view where you harvest resources by building Farms, Sawmills, etc. You then have a “Town” view where you build cottages, barracks, an academy, and so on. Evony does provide a lot of slots for buildings, which allows the player to decide how much of each resource he wants to produce. For example, a player can chose to build an equal number of mines for each of the four resources, or could commit all his slots to Sawmills and have a town that just cranks out a LOT of lumber.
You can zoom in and out and pan around both the City view and the Town view, which is a very nice feature, and there’s animation of little people running around in Town view. The graphics aren’t brilliant – most of the buildings are pretty boxy, boring, and can get pixely if you zoom in too far – but they don’t necessarily detract from the game.
The world map looks very much like Civilization III and functions a lot like Travian. There are a number of different terrain types which each give a unique production bonus if you build a city there, or can be captured to provide the bonus to a nearby city. It is curious that you cannot zoom out of the Map view, as that would have been a very useful feature.
Combat is pretty straight-forward. You recruit troops in the barracks and send them to attack other cities. You also have to send a Hero with every attack, which means you’ll need to build an Inn and a Feasting Hall before you can start raiding, and it requires a huge army to launch a successful attack. Some of the ads for Evony Age II suggest that there are “no more bullies”. It seems that they’ve attempted to combat players being farmed out of the game by adding a lot of NPC’s for the stronger players to attack. In my immediate area there are about 5 NPC cities for each actual player city. This is definitely great for new players, and all OSG’s should provide new players the opportunity to launch a successful attack on some sort of NPC before their beginner’s protection wears out. I worry though that Evony has gone a bit too far and the player to player interaction might suffer.
One of the things Evony does well is the research. In addition to unlocking new buildings or units, each research has a bonus affect and can be researched a number of times. For example, Archery unlocks the Archer unit and each level also increases shooting range by 5%. You can do researches to increase each type of resource production, troop movement speed, attack, defense, etc. This is a great feature since, as with the open slots in the City view, it allows players to specialize in one thing or another.
Evony also employs several game elements that are rather annoying. I consider Evony the birth of the “Task / Quest” system; I think my distaste for that feature is well known. There’s also an intricate system of tax rate, comforting, levy, and loyalty that just makes the game unnecessarily complicated. Thankfully, I’ve been able to manage my empire so far without dealing with that too much. Finally, a the Chat system sends out a message every time someone wins an item in the daily roulette. I understand why they do that, but it’s still annoying.
The UI is a bit congested. There are buttons and information displayed on 3 sides of the screen, which is just too much, and there’s no prominence given to important information. Further, all of the building-specific menus come up as smaller pop up windows (which is another one of my pet-peeves I’ll discuss later) and can sometimes cover important information.
Overall, Evony Age II is your basic OSG. Despite the annoying aspects the gameplay is rather solid and delivers an experience of managing an empire, which is what OSG’s are all about.
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