War, and Peace — A Look at Two Lesser Known Facebook Titles

World at WarMost of our readers gladly take the time to look when big developers like Playdom, Zynga, Playfish (Electronic Arts) and CrowdStar launch new games in a popular genre. But sometimes smaller late-comers do a great job out-innovating the big guys — here’s a look at two thematically contrasting titles.

The first game is World at War, a modern warfare-style take on the classic mafia role playing game. That said, the game has all the standards: Money, missions, energy to complete the missions, stamina to battle other players (dubbed “ammo”), and so on.

Really, it’s the style that’s most interesting. Everything is based on modern military technology, with the goal being to build up the largest military force in the world. Of course, to do so, users must complete missions in order to level up, unlock more powerful weapons of war, and use the money earned to build up their forces of land, sea, and air.

This actually is where World at War stands out a bit: when you choose your country, you don’t get bonuses such as “faster energy regeneration” or “faster health regeneration.” On the contrary, the perks go towards branches of your military. As an example, if you choose the United States, your air force is stronger than others. If you are the United Kingdom, your navy is stronger. This obviously plays a fairly significant role in choosing what units to build when.

Units of WarAs far as the units themselves go, these are more or less the equivalent of items in something like Mafia Wars. They add attack and defense stats to your profile, and are required for certain missions, and in the end, a squad of riflemen is still, essentially, the same thing as an uzi or what-not in another RPGs (though it is a bit more gratifying to have little minions rather than just a gun).

Additionally, players can also build up a base to earn periodic income, but what is different is that the user can convert outdated structures to new ones as they increase their level and unlock new buildings. In many other RPGs, you are forced to buy more land (which you can still do here). Furthermore, each building can be upgraded up to three times to improve efficiency, and some of them even grant bonuses to health, defense, attack, and so on.

Okay, granted, World at War isn’t wholly original, but then again, most Facebook RPGs aren’t. Do missions, level up, buy new stuff, invite friends to become stronger, and take over the world – in theory. That’s about every social RPG in a nutshell. However, if you like modern military technology, and you’re sick of mafias and gangsters, then this is an app worth checking out. Moreover, with over 1.1 million monthly active users, you certainly won’t be alone.

Ocean WorldThe next app is the exact opposite to World at War, in that it is about peace. Called Ocean World, much of the game’s user based appears to speak Chinese, judging from its page; the developer is little-known Stand Up Network. The app has around 255,000 monthly active users.

Ocean World is your standard virtual aquarium game. It is a bit behind the times, as that boom appeared to peak last fall, but the game is still a decent rendition of this common genre. The basics are all present: buy fish, feed fish, plant decorations, and make the world a happier place.

One thing that makes the game stand out, however, is the overall atmosphere that comes with it. The visuals are a cross between Zynga’s somewhat cartoonish FishVille and Tall Tree Games’ more realistic looking Fish World. It actually looks quite good, and there isn’t a bad selection of decorations to choose from either.