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Ministry of War review


Ministry of War review

Browser based MMORTS

 Genre: Free to play real time strategy MMO
 Publisher: Snail Games 

Ministry of War free MMORTS


When a game describes itself as the most advanced browser game in the world, you have to take a step back and admire it. No doubt some marketing genius patted himself on the back over that one for hours, but really that can only be setting things up to fail, surely. I came across that exact phrase – “most advanced browser game in the world” – while doing a little research for my Ministry of War review. It’s not hidden away somewhere, hoping that somebody doing a little light googling happens to come across it. No, Ministry of War quite openly brags about its (self-decided) status all over their website, including the loading screen for the game itself. So, whether the game was any good or not, I had to at least congratulate the developers on their confidence. That sort of bragging really takes guts.

Picking babes (and a Chinese man)

And what better way to start the most advanced browser game in the world than with beautiful woman, sexually starved and no doubt ready to entertain you – with engaging browser-based gameplay – for hours to come. Miss Persia, Miss Egypt, Miss Rome, all wearing clothing that looks like Paris went warrior crazy and got Boudicca-influenced babes to strut the catwalk. Then there’s Mr China, who looks like the least Chinese person in the world. It’s almost like somebody went for the most multi-cultural adaption of Charley’s Angels ever. Most confusing is that the pictures of these characters, as you see them in the screenshot, aren’t the characters you play as. Upon making your decision, you get to choose between a male or female avatar, neither one the character depicted as representing your chosen country.

Upon choosing your country (it could take hours of thinking, weighing in the pro and cons and then picking the one with the biggest breasts anyway) and being granted a plot of land by your ruler, in my case Ramses II, you’ll be let loose on your own little town (Matville makes a return). Instantly the tone for the rest of the game is set: “building things can take a very long time,” you are told. That is no joke, the first warehouse apparently would take nearly ten minutes to build – a lowly warehouse, something other MMORTS's can do in seconds – but our gracious king has deemed to give me a speed-up voucher. This will cut down the time from ten minutes to mere seconds. Of course, in future, if I want to have any sort of enjoyment out of this game (as in, not waiting for ten minutes over a warehouse) I’ll need to pay for more vouchers. Other buildings prove to take less time, but it all depends on what you pick.

The most advanced browser game in the world?

In terms of Ministry of War being the most advanced browser MMO in the world, well, it depends on how you look at it. The average MMORTS is not a difficult game to beat out when it comes to being advanced, a static picture of a cat from 1998 and a “coming soon” sign is pretty much more technologically advanced than almost anything within the genre. It’s certainly a very pretty looking game, the colours are lovely and the character designs are well done. There are ways of doing things that are impressive and different, but they’re most graphical and don’t make all that big a difference. You’ll still find yourself sitting around, you’ll still find yourself waiting and, in the early parts of the game, you’ll still find yourself being led around by an “advisor.” It’s annoying and it stops it from being as enjoyable as perhaps it could be.

In the spirit of being completely fair, Ministry of War offers a lot more than I ever expected from an MMORTS. Granted, you’re not going to be spinning round and round in excitement, but there’s more to it than endless waiting. Battles have a manual mode in which you can control the movements of your troops (although your actual influence on the battle, at least in the early part of the game, is arguable). Instead of getting a notice pop up when you deploy an army, you instead get a little animation on the world map showing your character moving towards his destination. It’s a nice touch, but hardly pushing things too far into the future. It reminds me somewhat of Castle Empires/Settlers Online, in that the developers have obviously realized that pushing graphical perfections can sometimes overwrite complaints about the gameplay.

Same old, same old

In short: nothing can make up for gameplay and you’re left sitting around and waiting far too much. That’s the key component in the genre and still, even in games claiming to advance things, it stays a key component of the genre. As much as it would be nice to shake things up somewhat, as much as it would have been great to have the battle system expanded on or the strategy made more Civilisation like, you’re left with the same things you could have gotten from any other MMORTS is existence. And, while I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest you give this one a go – because it really is the best of what I’ve seen in the genre – don’t go in expecting all that labeling to be anything more than a clever marketing plot: it’s a sheep in a shiny suit. And, as nice as the suit is, it’s still just a regular sheep underneath the glitter (and the fact they got the sheep wearing the suit at all is rather impressive).

Moving on

After a short tutorial, the world becomes your oyster. In previous games, I’ve celebrated giving the player a certain degree of freedom and I’ll do so again here. It’s fantastic to be given a list of tasks to perform and to be able to perform them on your own without the need to be constantly bothered by an advisor. It’s nice to have that independence to make mistakes. The problem is; the mistakes are superficial. It seems that the developers have pre-empted every move you could possibly make and everything you do results in you completing a task. You’ll spend more time surprised that you’ve completely tasks than perhaps actually trying to complete tasks. It’s not a terrible idea, it means that you always have plenty of resources to play with, but at the same time it makes everything you need to do pretty tame.

Spell checking

If I were to have any major complaints about Ministry of War, I would have to start with a general lack of polish when it came to spelling and grammar. Usually when a word is out of place it’s mildly amusing (and you can’t always presume the translation is done by somebody who’s first language is English; for small developers with not a lot of money, you have to forgive the odd error) or at the very least inconsequential. There isn’t a lot of speech in Ministry of War, but there’s enough that the amount of spelling and grammar mistakes on display stop being funny and start being annoying. If you have to read the same sentence three times, you know it probably should have been caught in the testing phase.

Ministry of War review : TheConclusion

Ministry of War is a quality example of a developer trying to push things but not quite pushing it far enough. There’s enough there to warrant this being a replacement for your favorite RTSMMO, but not different enough that somebody who has played every game in the genre will be suitably impressed. For somebody looking for their first, this would be the perfect starter. It has everything every other game has, plus a little extra. Is it the most advanced browser game in the world? I’d like to know which criteria they gave themselves when deciding, but at the very least I can say that it’s very impressive. After seeing the constant bragging on their home page and the semi-naked women that made up their character roster, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Ministry of War and, honestly, I’m thinking that you might be as well.

© 2012 -
M. Growcott

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