Quite some time ago I was listening to a cell phone radio Geek broadcast where they are discussing MMOs. A person asked what the most popular MMO was in the world. One man said, clearly World of Warcraft. Another commented on the popularity of Asian free to play MMOs. These opinions all held sway with the commentators and were generally accepted. Then someone brought up the black sheep, Farmville. One person called it a “viral game” a “game within an application.” “Not even fit to be called a game.” It was quickly dismissed as the conversation continued.
Today Zynga Games is one of the most powerful gaming companies out there. They are the front line of casual games and are making a mint on it. This has become a billion dollar industry. On top of that the browser based MMO has become more and more powerful and is dominating MMOs.
In these reviews I will not be rating them as I normally do games. Instead I will be focusing on looking over what these games offer and introduce social as a category in place of graphics. A rule of doing these reviews is that I will not be forcing any of my friends to play via requests and I will not be purchasing any currency to further myself ahead. I will be playing simply as a social gamer who wants to meet friends, not force my friends to do things with me.
When Sid Meier stated he was going to stop making Civilization games and start making casual games for Facebook people felt that he would become the herald for casual games. His first move was to bring his most famous title to Facebook and call it “CivWorld.” A number of articles were published talking about how Sid Meier was going to save Facebook from itself.
Does CivWorld live up to the hype?
Is Sid Meier the herald of Facebook?
When you look at the gameplay of a game designed to be casual in nature you look at its ability to keep you playing the game. CivWorld presents a game that will always give you something to do.
The first primary part of the game is constructing buildings and managing your city’s resources. Think of yourself as just one city in a civilization, because that’s what you are. You select your homes and give your people jobs to do. Each of these people will gather a certain type of resource for you. There are four types of resource: production, food, art and money. Production is used to expand your infrastructure and upgrade buildings. Food gives you more citizens. Art can be used towards wonders and great buildings. Money can be used for purchasing armies and more of other resources. Money of course does not exchange into the other resources
Money also allows you to play the market. You can buy low and sell high to get more money and buy more stuff. The top players in the game are quite controversial. The game offers contests and these people play the market and then buy up whatever the contest might be.
The game is loaded with mini games. The mini games are unlocked over time and successfully completing a game will give you some sort of bonus. This puzzle scrambler for example rewards art points:
Then there is this game that involves building roads. This one grants you more trade:
These are all repeatable and all will continue to reward a currency to you.
Of course you cannot have Civlization without… WAR
Yeah it’s Yu-Gi-Oh.. but in truth Yu-Gi-Oh was pretty damn exciting (despite the show being for children).
It actually runs in world time and you can see battle decisions being made. If you’re not online the person with the largest army takes control of your troops.
The game is casual so it is not something that should involve you like a normal game should. All that is required is that the parts of the game are fun, and they are.
Upon entering this game immediately Sophocles will show up. Sophocles of course is an Ancient Greek playwright who had many views on science, society, and politics. Many people associate a bust (head only sculpture) as a symbol of society and intelligence.
Sophocles is going to guide you through the game step by step. He will tell you to do things and introduce you to every single element of the game. If you choose to skip the introduction you will be at a loss since you will not gain the bonus resources you would gain for doing pretty much nothing.
Usually with tutorials I have had no problems with it. The game slowly and systematically introduces you to everything so that you know exactly what you can do with this game. The only thing that needs work is dowries. I’m sure this is something in the works. Currently there is no explanation for how they work outside of going to Youtube and downloading a video on it.
Everything is based around 16 buttons that are just obvious. Understanding how the buildings work is simple.
It is, a perfectly noobie friendly game.
A lot of people call facebook games “traps.” This is because the game cannot progress unless played by all of your friends. The alternative that some of my Facebook game playing friends have come up with is to make new friends specifically for these games.
CivWorld has an option to include your friends in this game, and it does (in the tutorial) force you to open up this menu. It does not however actually force you to invite people. It’s a lot like when people install a new piece of software and there are these options to install all these other programs. 99% of the time you are not required to install them you are just made to feel like you do. Sup Direct X 10 for the 90th time. Sup Apple Quick Time (that NO ONE uses). Sup various search toolbars.
CivWorld immediately immerses you into a world that is inherently social. You are a city in a civilization. If you do not choose to join a civilization you are an independent city and vulnerable to attack from one of the powers. I for one joined the Japanese Shogunate seeking the protection of the ancient Shogun. They were also the largest nation at the time so it was not a hard choice.
From what I’m getting from this game is you might not make friends, but you will definitely find allies to play with.
Will I continue to play this game? I say no now but every time I have a break in raids I flip on Facebook and hit the harvest button. I then spend all my other free time spending my production, creating new structures, picking new sciences and picking new art. It is potentially the best developed game on Facebook to date and it sets a very high bar from Zynga and other big Facebook app developers.