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Lord of Ultima Review

Lord of Ultima Review
  • Release Date: April of 2010
  • Publisher: EA
  • Developer: Phenomic Studio
  • Genre: Strategy
  • Official Site

Browser-based strategy MMO games are tons out there. While the core elements of city-building and strategic deployment are basics for games of this genre, it’s the way how the familiar mechanics are rendered that set one game apart. And Lord of Ultima certainly knows the knack of being special.

You enter the game as the chosen to rule over the land of Caledonia. Yet the futuristic nation grows out of your starting small village. It provides a tutorial, which mainly covers the resource buildings and defensive structures. It can be skipped, but it’s helpful. In fact, it reveals one special design embedded in the game, that is, the placement of structures has an impact on its function. For instance, farms that are built on grassland or beside lakes yield high; Training grounds, if built near barracks, get a boost in the recruitment speed; Marketplaces near Town Hall increases the amount of gold earned; and cottages increase productivity of bordering resource buildings.

True to its genre, it’s really a game that you need tactics to handle, even from the initial village building section. After the tutorial, you are on your own. Although you follow the quest line to move on, you still have much freedom to manage the resource and construction, due to its originally scripted quests. Unlike those in most strategy games, a large amount of quests in this game just set general objects, to achieve which you can follow your own way. To gain 250 City Score, for example, you need to add different, multiple buildings which grants certain points; but it’s totally up to you which types of building or how many to construct so as to reach the required score. And the quest line offers a wide range of different types of tasks (categorized as Progress, Trade, Recruitment and Dungeon, etc.) simultaneously, so that you can engage in several at once to fill in a bit the waiting time.

The game features over 34 types of buildings (including the Town Hall you directly have in the beginning), which can be upgraded to the highest level of 10 each. You can only build one structure one time, but can add up to 5 in a queue. You don’t have the Instant-finish shortcut, but are able to quicken the construction rate with premium items known as Artifacts in the game which offers a bundle of resources immediately. Besides, you can also pay to activate the Ministry functions, which can offer extra slots in the queue of building or recruitment. So as usual, paid players get advantages.

While you can take the safe and slow way to develop resources and the city, you are offered the alternative path of risk by plundering and conquering others’ cities. If you want to conquer, you need to build castle and meet the other requirements. But beginners may want to show teeth when well-prepared: once the castle is built, one week’s protection ends immediately; and if conquered by others, they have to start over. If you are not ready for PvP, you can freely explore the dungeons only if you think it’s time. Dungeons are scattered around in the Region; and raiding them brings you different amounts of resources or gold according to the difficulty levels. Combat scene is little animated, only serving as another distraction or make-do for the regular building time. To choose the safe or risky way is also applied to the expansion of the town.

Other than aforementioned core mechanics, the game also features other tweaks such as the impact of town’s location on resource yields and the special ships and harbor for sea war. All in all, Lord of Ultima is a unique strategy game that marks its identity with innovation.

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2 Comments on Lord of Ultima Review

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  1. Jaesic says:

    While I’m sure EA/Phenomic appreciate the advertising value of any positive publicity, this is a very poor review of a game. The reviewer’s perspective is clearly that of a ‘short term’ quick experiment with the game. One critical detail that is left out of this review is that the average play time from beginning to ‘win’ for a given world/server is seven to ten months of play… and that many players will eventually manage hundreds of cities, millions of military units, and will need to work in groups of players called alliances to meet the ultimate challenges of defeating their enemies and earning the title of Lord of Ultima though the building of Palaces to the eight virtues.

    If you seriously want to serve the MMO community by reviewing games… you have to be willing to commit to learning enough about the games to provide a realistic perspective. Be complementary and enthusiastic about what you see if you choose… but don’t go into the process with blinders on. The players who take your advice to try out a game will thank you for it later.

  2. Quest of The Avatar says:

    REJOICE!

    'Lords of Ultima' is dying.

    It is a travesty – a twisted abomination which ignores and abuses the 30+ year legacy of the greatest ever computer FRPG series.
    From the Quest of the Avatar onwards, Ultima was about Virtues; Compassion, Honor, Self-sacrifice, Justice, Honesty, Valor, Spirituality and Humility.

    EA (a company who have always put profit ahead of gaming and gamers) have turned it into a game about most of the antitheses of Virtue – about cowardice, back-stabbing, murder, theft, about ganging up with fellow cowards and about the accumulation of self-importance and worldly glory.

    Frankly, it's sickening.
    Goodbye and good riddance.

    REAL Ultima fans should look out for the impending release of 'Shroud of the Avatar'.

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