Majesty Online: A Noble Effort Worth Your While?
By Mitch Baylosis-Benesa (Syllica), OnRPG Journalist
You have to give props to the noble efforts of Chinese developer 77.net for introducing another possibility in real-time strategy games like they did with Majesty Online. They created a browser-based game that puts the player in the gray area when it comes to control. While most browser-based RTS games focus on making you build everything from scratch including your resources and military, Majesty Online seems to stand out by letting the player experience the combined elements of the typical RPG questing mode and the typical RTS building and upgrading features. But the question is, does the concept work?
Gofer Mode ON
Having played my fair share of browser-based RTS over the past couple of years, Majesty Online proved to be quite a surprise in terms of presentation and intensity. In this game, you are not someone who must establish a village and rise up the ranks to unite the kingdoms of the world. You are a character surrounded by well-known historical figures depending on which empire you chose at the beginning: the Empire of Charlemagne, the Empire of Alexander, and the Roman Empire.
Unlike other browser RTS, you are much more dependent on quests to level your character and expand your army to aid the leader of your empire. How you strengthen your given resources and military (like upgrading horse stalls, collecting taxes, buffing tech and military components) will be your key to finishing quests quickly. However, don't expect much substance from the quests. There isn't much to read (and some even suffer from translation errors). Your quests are basically just an excuse for Aristotle or Leonidas to make a gofer out of you.
I Might As Well Marry My Character
Graphics-wise, the game employs the usual isometric view that most browser-based games are known for. What came as a surprise was the art for each character and the consistency of my character's animation. I honestly think Alexander's blond looks are quite fetching, and Leonidas eerily resembles that this-is-Sparta dude.
My Alexandrian Empire character Syllica actually runs from the Babylon Palace to deliver Alexander's orders to Themistocles of Thebes. She wields her sword in the Practicing Area and actually digs if left to collect resources, which is pretty cool since it helps tap down my impatience while waiting for my fort wall and army upgrades.
Familiar, Yet So Different
Each town has a very unique feel to it. Different layouts and different styles make you feel like each place you go is really something new to explore compared to the templates repeatedly employed by other browser RTS games.
Majesty Online plays like any familiar RTS-you fight for a higher cause, you constantly need to recruit and equip your heroes and upgrade resources, you do random battles with monsters and other players in turn-based combat, you siege other empires, etc. However, the questing component can be a double-edged sword in the game. While it makes sure that you have a certain direction or path in the game, it does take away your full control since the factors that you usually put first in regular RTS are a given already.
Furthermore, the questing can feel repetitive when you are at the point when you want to do sieges, church war, PvP, or taking a chance at a Waterloo conquest instead. The sound is quite standard, but even this is a bonus in itself since sound effects like background music and fighting grunts are quite rare within the genre.
How it is played is familiar, but it will definitely court a different kind of interest. Overall though, I believe Majesty Online delivered quite well in presenting something new and challenging.