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Astro Empires – MMOG – First Impressions

By on September 17th, 2009 12:10 am

This is the first of future articles about first impressions when playing a space strategy game. Of course that this kind of analysis is not so deep as a thorough review so it may be subject to more criticism, but that is a risk I´m willing to take.

Astro Empires is already a well established free space strategy (the free mode has some limitations, but is fully playable) web-based game known by many players. The idea of this article is to give the reader a global overview of this game to make it easier for newcomers.

For a review I did on another Web-Based MMOG –  Ogame, please refer to my other article: Ogame Review, Tips and Strategy Guide.

intro

First impact

When reaching Astro Empires homepage, I have to confess that I liked it. Few and synthetic information including a small text describing the game and information regarding how easy it is to install and the fact that it is free to play. It also displayed  information about the advantage of not having to download anything, which captures the player’s attention for a smooth first impact. The homepage also gives a general overview of the game dimension and global information about the number of players, planets and bases in the server.

First Login, First Impressions

To be honest, when I made the first login I was not very pleased, I got a bit lost. I didn’t get immediately what I needed to do, it felt a bit unnatural and non-intuitive. The account overview is a little bit too texty, no graphic overview of your bases, your planets, I mean your location in the map. After 10 seconds, I found the Bases and Map icons…

baseWhen you choose one of your bases the following information is presented to you:  an overview, the  structures on it, the defenses, production, research and trade options. It presents all the standard issues of a common space strategy game, but the problem is with the details. When describing, for instance, the structures, there is no detailed information about them and it’s classification is done by means of numbers from one to a maximum level. I consider this a very simplistic approach that does not transmit a sense of realism to the player (but this is not strictly an Astro Empires thing, many games, like ogame for instance, also present this kind of simpler classification). I would prefer something more meaningful like “Advanced <structure>”, “Hyper”, “Automated” kind of upgrades but maybe that’s just a thing of mine.

Another down aspect in AE is when you click on a structure  it shows the same text as it did on the list of structures (I thought the second was more like a small description in a first place) with no images and with a list of the levels that each structure can achieve… too simple. Lots of work to be done here. But there is lots of space to be filled. I guess that the developers are probably still working on this matter for sure.

map

Galaxy Map

The map is ok, a grid over the galaxy is displayed with all the planets in each grid square. It gives you a nice perspective of your location in the game. There are tow kinds of links in the map. When you click on the planet, you go directly to the colony information, when you click in the name of the player you see information which can be important to test your diplomatic skills…

Timescale

For me, the timescale is the best feature of the game. I´m not a fan of rush kind web browser games where everything happens too fast. I like to take my time when placing a strategy. In this game, just because I was away for two days this didn’t ruined the game for me … my planet was not burning and my credits were not at zero!… against what is usual in some other web browser games like … travian, or ogame. I think this game has done a serious effort regarding this issue, but anyway I’m only playing it for a month, so  I could be mistaken about this.

Gaming experience so far

I needed to do something relevant with the game to have enough juice for a first impression… so, after lots of research levels, I ordered the construction of two Outpost ships (odd name for a regular colony ship), it took me around 6 hours to complete them… After a 3 minutes travel (maybe a bit too fast for my taste), the colony ship reached a metallic planet in the same solar system… I clicked the button “Build Base”… and that’s all. I wanted to see more juice in the process. Building a base is not like building a small fighter, but in Astro Empires, in practical terms, is the same. At least a few extra options could be presented when starting a colony, maybe a small report, or some colonization options presented (native population present in the planet, artifacts/technologies found, decisions to be made that affect the planet quality, etc).

timescale

Future

The future of this game is promising. I felt that the game is a like a raw diamond with many aspects still to be polished. The game is quick to load and to interact with and it seems that the engine beneath is also powerful. Now, the next step is to take more advantage of this engine and allow the player to extract the maximum potential of the concept but introducing more content.

I will continue to play the game and, in the future, I hope to write a deep review. In the meantime, I’ll explore the battles concept, colony management of several colonies, diplomacy aspects and the trading mechanism. I don´t know if I got lucky not having a dangerous alliance nearby (you can also join an alliance later) which allowed me to take me time to do things. IF this is confirmed than if you want to start a game in a “non-rush” mode, Astro Empires is a valuable option for you.

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8 Comments


  1. Speartron says:

    Astro Empires i play, It is easy,Simple,And fun. Most people quit early becasue they dont see there accounts and lvl developing in the first 3 days, Get past them and it is a wonderful game, Is is VERY addicting ,Try the game and you will love it

  2. blahblah says:

    you really need to stay with this game
    join a guild and then it becomes a lot more fun
    it take several weeks to get into but then it becomes a lot more fun
    a new sever starts every 6 month ( juneish & decemberish)

  3. L says:

    You seem to have all the good features about he game here. The bad features such as no real level protection. Fleets when they are off your own base no matter your level can be attacked by a veteran player of any level. Now for you attacking their fleet if you are under level 30 opens up your bases to be attacked. Possibility of your base occupied on a base by guys much stronger when get to level 30. Such as you having 300k fleet and having to try to kick a person off your base with a million point fleet. Don’t get me wrong I like the game just it could have some tweaks on those things.

  4. Master Chief says:

    I have been playing AE now for over 5 years, over 20 years if you combine all the servers i play.

    Dont go lone wolf on this game unless you have the perfect empire set up, so many times i have seen new players join and i offer them safety and help in my guild and thay say ” il work it out on my own” then a week later he is being farmed by a large player cos he could work it out on his own. if your new to MMORPG browser games then take advice rather then work it out on your own.

    also if you do plan to go lone wolf then i suggest you build bases in 1 system regions with no other players in the region. number one noob mistake is sending your mobile fleet to a region where 20 players can see you coming.

    only downside to AE is it is very unfriendly when it comes to noobs, there are some really sick in the head people on AE that would happily ruin your gaming by perma occin you, AE does nothing to add features to help new players,the newbie protection only last a week then after that your on your own.

  5. Dizza says:

    Astro Empires – the browser based MMO is an awesome game! You can colonize planets and build huge galactic empires inside a massive galaxy. You can build massive fleets of powerful spaceships and join a guild to participate in large scale battles aginst other guilds. Sounds cool right? It should be, but sadly this game has a few critical flaws.

    1. The game is free to play, but you will not be able keep up with the capacities of upgraded accounts. So upgrading is a must.

    2. The build time for some advanced items are ridiculous, sometimes being hundreds of hours.

    3. Level protection is imbalanced. After you reach level 30 your open to attack from anyone. Their are many players Lv 150+ that can wipe out months of work in an instant.

    4. The customer service and administration are horrible. Not open to suggestions or refunds, they seem indifferent to most issues. People are often suspended or banned for seemingly minor infractions.

    5. Not a noob friendly game. High level players do not hit each other, and instead take great pride in running new players from the game. A visit to their heavily policed forums can confirm this.

    So in short if you want to spend months of building just to have it all destroyed in an instant this game is for you.

  6. slyostinato says:

    I have to agree with Dizza – on every point he has made. This reminds me of playing similar games, years ago, like Travian and Ikariam.

    These are NOT good online games to get involved in. They are so misbalanced and out of whack that it is laughable. And their sole purpose is to get you to open your wallet and sink coin after coin of real money into someone else’s bank account. I have yet to find a rewarding online game that lets you choose to play in a single player mode without having to deal with everybody coming at you to destroy you.

    I’m sure there are some that like such games, but I don’t have the time to live online to babysit games to protect my progress from poachers and haters.

  7. Adam Solo says:

    @Dizza @slyostinato

    Unfortunately, that was also my experience playing some MMO games of this type. Namely, Travian and OGame.

    I was especially disappointed with OGame, which I initially though to be quite pleasing for a few gaming sessions a day. Like Dizza in Astro I also got overrun after a period of time in OGame. I had a decent defense, was having a good time, and then BANG. I was completely ravaged, again and again till it was simply not fun to continue playing anymore.

    Like you sly, I’m still to find a rewarding online game that can hook me without turning my gaming into a job and constant worry. I try a few from time to time. I will post my impressions here when that happens.


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Post category: Game First Impressions, Game Previews