By Vincent Haoson (Vincenthaoson), OnRPG Journalist
Astrowars puts you in the seat of a commander of a planet. As its head, it is your responsibility to develop and create an empire that will dominate space with an iron fist or become a strong, peace-seeking nation.
First and foremost, Astrowars, as most browser-based games out there is a resource centered game. The important resources that you need to harvest in the game for survival are: population, science, production and culture points.
As a resource centered game you have to properly allocate which resource needs to go first and so forth. Everything is balanced if you started playing the game using the default choice for newbies. However, players have the option of getting a 'race' for their starting game. The races, unlike the default newbie accounts have more freedom in choosing what they will start with. This gives the veteran players a more adjustable gaming style.
Using the resources you earn, your goal is to reach 500 points or more, once you do reach the required amount of points a seven day countdown will be announced server wide. During this period you need to keep yourself from dropping below 500. If it does drop within the seven day countdown the clock resets and you would need to reach 500 points again. If you do get to maintain your points from dropping below 500 you win the game and Astrowars starts a new round.
With this in mind, you generally get the idea that the game is more of a 'you against the world' thing. You turn into a walking target once you hit 500 points and you need to outsmart, outmaneuver and out play everyone who wants to get to the top.
The competitive nature of the game makes up for the lack of anything visual found in the interface. However, it gets tiring if you all you see are texts whenever you log into the game. This affects the game's longevity especially if you would find a game that has the same concept but has more graphics.
The advantage the game has compared to other more graphic heavy browser games is that the game loads faster and you immediately see what you do because the game auto refreshes whenever you do something. At first glance this seems to be a faulty feature of the game however if you play long enough youwill see that the auto refresh feature smoothens out the transition per actions you take without causing much delay.
Trying to maintain 500 points for seven days is in fact a hard thing to do especially if everyone online wants a shot at it. Unless you have the ultimate strategy that would keep you from losing chunks of points within the seven day time period then it would seem to be an impossible goal.
The game does have an alternative way of winning and its through an alliance. Your alliance must keep 470 points once the countdown starts to win. This gives alliances a more important role in the gameplay unlike in other browser-games where an alliance would only serve as a community tool rather than being an integral part of the game feature. Astrowars is also a strategic MMO that is why the alliance has an alternate feature where you can contact each other which serves as a strategic tool as well. Alliances reduce the paranoia factor whenever you interact and share because you are part of a group that has the same goals in mind.
The problem about the Alliance system is that thecommunication feature is not happening in real time. Unless you go out of the game and communicate through a third party messenger there would be a lag time in-between alliance communications. A lot can happen in that time and maybe the info you would be giving or receiving may be important to your alliance's strategy.
The best feature the game has is that it has a very helpful wiki page. What's more is thatit's integrated into the game interface that you willimmediately be transported to the page where the information is found regarding a certain aspect of the game. The drawback to this is that the click does not open another tab or window whenever you click on it, therefore making you press back whenever you click a help link instead of being able to read the guide while doing it in-game in real time.
Another drawback to the links is that you do not exactly see if the link you are going to click in the game is a help guide or an in-game feature. There are no warnings or texts that say you are being transported into a help page, what you get is your cursor changes into a link and that's that. For new players this would be the biggest problem they would have to face in the game aside from the lack of any visuals. Everything goes on smoothly once you get the hang of the interface.
The first thing you would notice once you start playing Astrowars is that the game concept is very similar to a new browser-based MMO, Galaxy Online. The idea of having your own planet, nurturing and developing the technology your planet has smells all to Galaxy Online. However, you cannot say that Astrowars is an exact Galaxy Online clone, even if the two games have similar game concepts. They are different with each other in a lot of aspects. Astrowars is faster-paced and is more of a strategic MMO whereas Galaxy Online has a more 'RPG' feel to it. You would not necessarily get tired of playing the game because the rounds refresh whenever someone gets to survive seven days while maintaining a 500 point cap or that an alliance gets to win. If you are more of a numbers and strategic type of player then I can say that Astrowars is the game for you, the game won't eat away a lot of your time unlike other browser-based games out there. It's a straight-up strategy space game.
- The game goes fast forward when you reach the start of the countdown
- The game has a very huge game guide database and really helps new players
- The interface is simple and you the game load time is fast.
- The game starts on slow and you need to each 500 points before things become exciting
- The interface is bland especially to those who are used to browser based games that have pictures
- You'd have to cycle through the guides as you play.