With today’s economy, more and more gamers are looking toward free internet games as a way to still get their fix, but yet not have a monthly fee or even an upfront purchase fee.
There are a number of such games available, ranging from simple card games to arcade type games to major franchises such as Dungeons & Dragons. Recently, a friend of mine from World of Warcraft recommended that I take a look at a game that is not new, but seems to be steadily growing. So, I ventured into the world of Evony.
Evony is a massively multiplayer online real time strategy, or MMORTS, game. It has been compared to the game Civilization, although I cannot say myself as I have not played that particular game. It does remind me a bit of early games in the Sim City series. The basic idea is that you begin with a plot of land where you start to build a city. Over time, you will build places for people to live, farms to provide food, and other necessary resources and buildings such as lumber mills, inns, and warehouses. As your city grows, you will build walls and other fortifications, and eventually build up troops to protect your city and attack others.
Let me state here that while I believe they have not used these ads recently, Evony did advertise using scantily-clad women, and this irked many people. I can assure you that the game is nothing like what you would imagine from those ads.
There are both player-versus-environment (PvE) and player-versus-player (PvP) elements to this game. You are playing against the environment when you work to improve your city. PvP occurs when you attack the cities of other players. Attacks can cause you to gain or lose not just soldiers, but also resources. You can conquer the cities of others, and even join alliances and conduct wars.
What makes this different than some other games is that the actions occur in real time, regardless of if you are logged into the game or not. For example, the time needed to build a Level 1 cottage might be three minutes, whereas it might take an hour to build a Level 5 cottage, and that will continue if you are logged in or not. Also, your city continues to function, so you will gain gold and resources all the time. This also means you can be attacked while you are not online, so you should try to be prepared.
A beginning player is granted a seven-day grace period, during which you cannot be attacked, nor can you attack other players. This gives you time to build up your city in all important aspects. There are quests you can complete that will give you rewards, but they also guide you toward how to succeed in the game by leading you through the steps to building your lands. There is definitely strategy involved, as all the aspects are linked, so it is important to make sure you are planning properly. For example, before you can build a relief station, you must know horseback riding, which is learned at the academy. The academy must be of a minimum level, and certain other technologies must be learned first.
This game is web-based, so there is nothing to download, and it uses Flash Player to run. You can easily have this game open in one window while doing other things, such as e-mail, web browsing, or even playing other games. Build buildings and walls, train troops, and educate your people all while clearing your favorite instance in Warcraft or killing Klingons in Star Trek: Online.
Evony is free to play. However, like many games these days, you can purchase items to improve your gameplay with real money. For example, you can purchase items that will enable you to build faster or improve your production on crops and other resources. While I like that the basics are free, the ability to purchase items will sometimes mean that players can buy advantages rather than use their strategy skills.
I do want to caution potential players about something. If you choose to purchase items in Evony, be very careful when making your selection. While they do have many one-time purchase options, they also have a number of packages that are a recurring purchase each month. The packages look good, and have a number of nice items, and allow you to give items to your friends as well. However, if you do not read carefully, it is very easy to commit yourself to a monthly purchase without realizing you have done so.
For a web-based game, the graphics are attractive, and the interface is easy to understand and navigate. The only real criticism I have is that some of the text in some areas of the game have typos and grammar mistakes. Of course this does not really affect playing the game, but it does impact the image players have of the developers.
Recently, Evony introduced a new version, Evony Age II. I just started playing that version a few days ago, and there are some major differences, with two notable ones being the updated graphics, and the ability to play through Facebook. I’ll be checking into all of the changes and additions, and will be writing a review of Age II in a future column.
If you like strategy and creation games, then give this one a try. It is fun, and even if you have never played a game like this before, the game itself gives you hints to get you started and help you learn. Be warned though – players say that the game can be cutthroat, and you can come back to find your cities destroyed. So, no hot girls to look at, but plenty of strategy, planning, and fighting in Evony!