Game Site: MinistryofWar.com
Game Developer: Snail Games USA
Rating: Worth Checking Out
Ministry of War is a new Online Strategy Game from Snail Games. It is definitely an “advanced” game, offering many features and a very high level of polish. However, there are many design decisions that push the game between genres and make it a very time-intensive game.
At its core, Ministry of War is a classic OSG. Players are given a city where they will need to build mines, lumbermills, and farms to harvest resources which are spent to construct houses, barracks, a research academy, and so forth. One very nice feature is that Ministry of War has adopted a grid-based city view (like Farmville, Social City, etc) instead of the traditional slot-based city view that most OSG’s use. This means that the player has a lot more control over the look of his city and can place structures anywhere.
One of the features I was really excited to see in Ministry of War was the ability to construct your own castle. Integrated with the customized city view are walls, towers, and gates that players can use to design a fortress. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell this has no affect on actual gameplay.
As with most modern OSG’s there’s a huge emphasis on the Hero. You will need to hire a hero, equip him with items, earn experience and level him up. One interesting twist Ministry of War adds is the “Arena”. Here you can select a hero to do combat, and the game will automatically match you up with another player your level who is currently online, regardless of where your cities are on the world map. Now that you are both online, you are transported to a traditional RTS style map. Here you can select troops, assign targets, etc., just like Starcraft, Command and Conquer, etc.
This is a great feature, but it is very dissapointing and puzzling as to why they didn’t integrate this with the fortress-building aspect of the game? When I attack another player’s city on the map, all I get is a standard report about troops lost and loot.
Another draw-back of the game is that OSG mechanisms don’t really stand on their own. Primarily, there doesn’t seem to be any point to resources. The most expensive thing I can build right now is a Lvl 4 City. This would cost me 2400 Stone and some Wood. My quarries are producing over 3600 Stone per hour. It’s the same with all my resources. Indeed, it seems the only way I could properly spend my resources would be to have two tasks building 24/7. Which brings up a second problem. The majority of structures are complete in under 5 minutes. That is a terrible wait time for an OSG!
By design, any time a player is not playing Ministry of War, he is falling behind. This means that it is not really a casual game. Further, since the most interesting aspect, the RTS battles and Arena, require players to be online at the same time, why not just play Starcraft?
Now, I exaggerate. I think a persistent browser-based RTS would be an excellent game! However, what we have with Ministry of War is a decent browser-based RTS thrown on top of a shoddy OSG (don’t get me started on their tutorial system or the web of rediculous building pre-requisites). There is definitely a place, a huge place, for this type of game in the market. However, Ministry of War needs to think hard about what it’s trying to be, and then shed off all the rest. Otherwise it’s just confusing to players.
On the plus side, the game does have some fantastic tutorial text.