If you’ve been on Facebook at any point in the last year or so then you will have no doubt noticed just how many of those time management games there are on there. You know the kind, the FarmVille’s of the world, those games that drain your life away without you even knowing there was anything wrong; and that’s coming from a World of Warcraft player.
Considering just how many of those types of games litter the internet, with the majority of them being concentrated on Facebook, it could be seen as a surprise to find out that not many of them are any good. A handful of them are worth anybody’s time, with The Sims Social topping that list for a lot of people. 8 Realms is another game in that same vein, some nice changes make it a little bit different but, for the most part, people that have played those games before will feel right at home.
8 Realms is developed by Jagex, a name that may be familiar to those of you that have played their other popular time-sink, Runescape. With a hugely popular MMO like that under your belt you can rest assured that they know how to get your attention and keep it. 8 Realms takes the expertise that they gained developing and maintaining Runescape and puts it all in a wrapper that makes it accessible to just about everyone.
The first thing you’ll notice when you start up 8 Realms is just how good it looks, there’s a nice cartoon feeling to the whole world that you’ll be playing in and that helps to keep the target audience of the game aimed squarely at the general market. You’ll be given a set of tasks that you have to complete as well as plenty of instructions in order to help you along your way to absolute domination. Before long you’ll be doing everything without much prompting from the game. If there was anything to criticise about this early part of the game it’s that the world that you’re given to play in feels a little small. The size of the game world is probably just about right for people that don’t play games on a regular basis but those of us that spend almost every minute of free time with a controller or a keyboard and mouse in our hands will feel like we want to get out and do a little bit more exploring; this isn’t possible. This small issue isn’t a game-breaker though and even the most hardcore gamers will probably find themselves coming back from time to time to check on how their civilisation is coming along, finishing off some quests and maybe invading some nearby settlements for those ever-so-precious raw materials.
At this point a lot of people may be asking “where’s the game part of this game?” and that would be a good question, while the casual players – those that are used to simple Facebook games and other games of that ilk – will be more than content clicking around in the starting area, doing the odd task here and there and maybe progressing a little bit, the hardcore gamers in the audience would feel left out if there wasn’t something to work towards, a proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (ask Colm, he knows) and for those people there are the different ages that you can work through. Just like in the Age of Empires games players can progress through their current age by completing tasks that are given to them. This will give the people that aren’t content with just clicking around something to aim towards, and it’s always a good idea to have a goal in mind.
There’s not much more that can be said about 8 Realms, it’s close enough to something that we’ve seen before that people will feel comfortable moving across to it and there’s something here that everyone is going to enjoy. The casual players will be happy doing their normal tactics of clicking around, upgrading their structures, researching different things and generally tending to their little towns; and being damn proud of it too. The players that require a little bit more substance will find what they’re looking for too in the sense of advancing through the ages, raiding nearby villages and towns and working through their required tasks in a strategic, methodical way in order to do what they need to do in the most efficient way possible; just as gamers tend to do.
If you’re looking for a time-management game with definite real-time strategy leanings then you should give 8 Realms a go. With a name like Jagex attached to it you know that you’re getting quality and the fact that you don’t have to go to Facebook in order to play it can be nothing but a good thing; especially if the aforementioned website is blocked at your place of employment. This genre of game screams for the touch interface of something such as the iPad and while there isn’t a dedicated app on the iTunes App Store (please Jagex, release one!) the web version of the game at www.8Realms.com works perfectly fine on the iPad through the Safari browser; it’s a little slow at the moment but it works. That’s more than can be said for 95% of those Facebook games I was talking about earlier.
8 Realms is set for release this year, be sure to check the official website at www.8Realms.com for more information.