Terra Militaris Review: A Bit of Civilization, A Dash of Casvian!
By Vincent Haoson (Vincenthaoson), OnRPG Journalist
Terra Militaris is a browser based game from developer Snail Game and is distributed by Gpotato. The game puts you in the shoes of a ruler of one of the great civilizations (namely: Rome, Egypt, China or Persia) to dominate and conquer the land around you.
When I started playing Terra Militaris, I assumed that the game would follow another browser based game by Snail Game, namely, Casvian. I was expecting Snail Game to copy Casvian gameplay and just add one or two "new" features like so many game developers do these days. However, I was surprised that Snail Game did one better by keeping what worked for Casvian and adding more features that sets Terra Militaris apart from the usual browser MMOG.
I must say that Terra Militaris feels more like an online Civilization game rather than just the usual browser MMOG. Terra Militaris has a lot of game systems that remind you of standard RTS games which I never thought I would see in a browser game.
I was really impressed with my first try of the game, which to be frank I never expected.
Build, Create and Destroy
Terra Militaris follows the usual formula of browser based games in the sense that your primary concern is to stock up on resources, build armies and then fight monsters or players. While the gameplay is already tried, tested and over used by other browser based game developers, what sets Terra Militaris apart is the "small things" that help you do these tasks.
In building structures, the game doesn't follow the usual static images just popping out for completed buildings. Instead you are given a grid inside your city to work on. This creation process is reminiscent of structure building in RTS games. I liked the fact that you are given the choice of where you want your buildings built, and take note, they're not limited to certain spots like in Ikariam, but rather you are given the whole grid to work on.
The grid structure is only limited to inside your city, resources on the other hand follow the usual path of being limited to certain parts of the map region. Terra Militaris uses the usual build path where the more you upgrade your resource structures the higher the output they provide. The only "added" feature in the regions section of the game is that there are monsters in your territory that you can send your hero to eliminate.
Speaking of heroes, Terra Militaris has a hero system in place. The heroes serve as your "commanders" in battle where they take part and provide the necessary morale boost and unit strength the normal grunts don't have. Your heroes can level up and even be equipped with weapons, armor and accessories. You can even allot skill points to your hero's stats when they level up. Your hero can also learn skills which you can use in battle.
The hero system is similar to the character leveling system you often find in MMORPGs. I liked how Terra Militaris applies this system to the game because it provides a familiar but fitting mechanic that players can easily use. This game system in fact provides a reason to go back and keep on playing especially if you're the type of player who loves to PvP.
Heroes can participate in the arena where you are matched with another player.
Battles in Terra Militaris occur in real time. Unlike in Casvian or other browser games where battles are done through turns, in Terra Militaris you have full control of your units in actual battle. You can direct where your units are placed and even activate hero skills at the crucial moments.
This game system is another variation Terra Militaris provides which keeps your gaming upbeat and less monotonous in the long run. I like the fact that the game also allows you to go "automatic" in your battles if you don't want to waste time micromanaging your hero.
The whole game itself is fun, however, my one gripe about Terra Militaris are the loading problems if you have a slow connection. There are moments when shifting from one area to another is a slow process because the game resources needs to "load" and even if the game has already loaded there are still some sprites that don't come out properly till after a certain period elapses.
This is very apparent whenever you switch from the normal window to the battles. I like what Snail Game did when your character sprite doesn't load, a block image appears over the area where your character and units should be (which is a nice solution btw so props to you guys).
Among the myriad of characters you have in the game, I must say that the presence of Missionaries in Terra Militaris as another form of "conquering" lands makes me almost point at the game accusingly of lifting this system from console and pc games of the same genre.
Of course, that would be just plain biased so I stopped myself. This is even more forgivable because it works well with Terra Militari's gameplay. In fact, this gives you another option in getting land without resorting to military force.
Being a browser based game I never expected much from Terra Militaris and yet the game has exceeded my expectations and more. I liked how Snail Game made a whole new game instead of a rehash of one their other browser based games. This kept Terra Militaris from feeling a little too common while maintaining the image of a turn-based browser based game.
What made me enjoy Terra Militaris are the little things that we never notice or even see in old browser based games. In fact, I can go as far as saying that Terra Militaris can be called the online version of the first Civilization game. I highly suggest this game for anyone who's looking into playing a browser game that can really take your time. With the game just entering its open beta stage the game has definitely more in store for you in the future.