English Language Version of Empire Online Comes to iPhone

Empire OnlineIf there’s one type of game genre that we’re beginning to see pop up more and more on the iOS, particularly the iPhone, it’s the massively multiplayer online game. Typically free-to-play, the latest one we’ve come across is a game by the name of Empire Online, from Lakoo. A bit older, the game has been available only in Chinese for a rather long time. That said, a recent English language release has allowed us to take a look at this often recommended application.

A traditional style of MMOG, Empire Online uses many of the standard mechanics of the genre has a whole. Since the game is on the iPhone, however, it does change the battle system significantly, taking on a more traditional role-playing game approach. Along with some interesting character customization, and the random appearances of pop culture characters, this freemium game is pretty decent, if not wholly inventive.

Players start out in a land that reflects the character class they choose. Ranging from the mystical lands of “China” to those of a Nordic persuasion. All the standard classes are present including the typical warrior, mage, healer, and so on, jobs. However, as one of the interesting aspects to Empire Online, players have a very distinct customization power for their character (but let’s save that for a bit later).

OverworldWe started with a “Kongfu Fighter” class in the area of Eastland (China, essentially) and right off the bat, players are greeted with by a pop culture parody (basically Chun Li from Street Fighter) and the now standard formula for quest giving. Yes, the World of Warcraft, floating exclamation mark.

Regardless, early quests do a good job of explaining the basics, and while this is not particularly useful for a veteran MMOG player – since the game feels very standardized, such users already know the basics of inventory, leveling up, etc. – there is still nothing to really complain about, as each tutorial quest gives a respectable amount of experience and coin for completion.

This actually plays in well with getting a new player hooked, because each element of the game learned basically expedites the leveling process, letting the player becoming more strong, more quickly. In fact, this is a significant point, as one of the biggest fallacies to MMOs is that it does take too long for the player to feel accomplished in any way, leading to a significant churn rate of new players.

On this same note, it was very early that we were able to begin acquiring new equipment for our avatars. This is yet another excellent means to hold the new player, because it is possible to actually start making one’s avatar look (and be) significantly stronger and more interesting. To add to this, there is a tremendous variety of weaponry in the game, which also alters the visual combat style of the character itself.

BattleBeyond being aesthetically different, different weapons are needed to use different types of skills in battle. Unfortunately, and as one of the negatives to Empire Online, the game is not entirely clear on what weapons allow for what, and it becomes a sort of trial and error exercise. It’s a little annoying until figured out, but the fluidity of the battle system does make up for any complaints.

Combat is a lot like in a standard, console RPG. Whenever players walk into one of the enemies milling about in the over world, they enter into a separate phase of the game and use simple taps to attack enemies in a turn-based fashion. Picking from special skills that cost mana points, to basic attacks, to items, it’s all a system that any Final Fantasy player ought to be familiar with. Additionally, since this is an MMOG, users can team up with other players to tackle more dangerous groups of enemies as well as the occasional, “elite,” boss monster.