Zynga launches strategy/combat game Empires & Allies

By Steve Watts, Jun 01, 2011 2:45pm PDT

Zynga has launched a new strategy/combat title that blends core game mechanics with its popular social features. Titled Empires & Allies, the game lets you build an army on a small island-nation, then use your troops to fight through enemy territories. It's available now on Facebook in 12 languages: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Indonesian, Turkish, Traditional Chinese, Malay, Korean, and Norwegian.

Empires & Allies

Oh yes. They're going after the coveted Norway market.

Of course, since this is a Zynga game, social interaction is deeply integrated. You can recruit friends to invade the enemy armies, or just invade your friends' empires yourself to get score bonuses in the form of Infamy Points. Visiting friends can help you get more energy, decorations, collectible items, and Honor Points, and enable special attacks.

E&A aims to attract strategy novices, giving you tips from your personal military advisor Scarlett (no relation), who serves as one of the game's 30 characters. Progressing through the story with Scarlett unlocks more buildings and decorations.

Zynga has been aiming to implement deeper mechanics in its games. We recently heard that chief game designer Brian Reynolds wanted to give the casual games market more complexity. When Zynga opened its studio in Los Angeles, it picked up Amer Ajami, who had previously worked on EA's Command & Conquer series.

Still, the game's first half-hour is more FarmVille than Command & Conquer. I spent most of my time so far bulldozing trees and building houses to support my adorable military-industrial complex. My only battle was a tutorial mission, and I was finally given the opportunity to attack friends at level 5. The city-building and collection mechanics give a distinct feeling that this is a strategy game built on top of existing Ville framework -- which is probably exactly what it is.

"Empires & Allies is strategy combat gone social - think CityVille meets Risk," said Ajami, who served as executive producer on the game. "We're focused on bringing our players a new form of entertainment and a strategy game is definitely a new playground for us. Play is in everyone's DNA, and this game lets you have fun and get creative by choosing your own destiny, building a nation and eventually, conquering the world."

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