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Cultures Online Review

Sara Lau
Feb 27,2012  03:02 by
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War games with diplomacy and long-run strategic planning are all the rage these days, and are getting tons of players hooked on their virtual land. Although it takes quite a long time to get things rolling, it could be fun once you got your empire established. Play through Cultures Online and submerge yourself in the Viking Age ruled by violent and bloodthirsty thugs. Are you able to become a competent ruler of the village to turn your small town into a thriving colony?

You start the game by choosing either Vikings, who take less damage in battle and consume less resource for construction, or Asians, who can inflict much damage in battle and spend less time on construction.

From the bird eye view map of town, the colorful and intricate landscape is very nicely laid out. You are able to see town-folk scurrying between houses and working on their assignments. And you are allowed to scroll the middle mouse button to browse the lovely-crafted town in different zoom levels. The game put much more emphasis on “heroes” compared with others. For example, you constructed a lumber mill, but it won’t automatically yield resource for you without a lumberjack. So you will have to assign at least one hero to work in order to produce resource, which can be easily done by drag and drop the hero portrait. This is also how “passive gaming” part of almost every war game comes into play: the resource-gathering and construction is done by itself, then you need to log on several times per day, to check what has happened: reassign your hero to do other things when the capacity of a certain type of resource reach its upper limit; or use the accumulated resources to build the next facility. But in this game, thanks to the considerate game design, even though you minimize the game window and switch to other job, there’s still a count-down timer indicated on the minimized tab, showing how much time you will need to wait until the building finishing constructing itself.

Farming is not the only thing for a hero to do. You’d embark on an adventure to explore the unknown places, and earn rewards and experiences to make yourself more heroic. You can send your heroes out for single-player missions. Depending on the distance, certain amount of time will be needed for you to wait until arrival of expedition, which will be also displayed on the minimized toolbar tab on desktop. The combat system is kinda Rock-Paper-Scissor based, ranged heroes gain advantage over single-handed-weapon users but are weaker against two-handed weapon wielding heroes, and something like that. As for the social part, you can raider other players to plunder resources if they have not deactivated the PvP mode. In the game, engaging or being engaged in PvP combat is optional, because, it allow you to freely toggle the status between “peace” and “aggression”, so no matter whether you play a pacifist character just concentrating on resource-hoarding, or you cannot log on to the game in the next few days, you are recommended to switch it to peace mode.

If you are tired of raiding, or you just want to kill the time while you are out for an expedition, you can at least give the mini-game a shot. The game is simple and addicting, you must match 3 or more crystals of the same color to disappear and achieve as more scores as possible in a given time period.

Ultimately, Cultures Online is a solid wargame suitable for those who enjoy the concepts of city-building and hero-management simulation. The peculiar art style and nice bgm can also keep you entertained.

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