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Goodgame empire is a free to play multiplayer castle building game.  The game runs on flash, so at times can get a bit laggy, and is quite resource intensive, I see 40% CPU utilisation on one core and 300MB RAM usage when playing.  As with most F2P games these days, micro-transactions are used in the form of rubies.  The cost ranges from 1515 rubies per GBP to 2120 per GBP so they’re not too expensive, and 1500 rubies will buy you a fair bit of the basic stuff in game if your careful with what you buy, it can get expensive quickly though.  It is entirely possible to play the game completely for free though, you won’t be at much of a disadvantage to P2P players and you won’t be constantly being nagged by the game to spend real money.

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You start off with a simple castle consisting of a keep and wooden wall.  A tutorial system will guide you through the early stages of the game, explaining what each building does and what you should construct.  It works well and doesn’t overload you with information.   To level up you must complete quests which will reward you with XP, each new player level will unlock more buildings or building levels.  You also have quest which will reward you with some rubies.

The game feels less competitive than Tribal Wars, which is the same kind of game, as you won’t be constantly receiving attacks from players who are much larger than you.  The attacking system is thought out quite nicely.  Each player has a level and also an honour points value, honour points are gained or lost when attacking or defending.  Attacking a player who has more honour points than you will net you a large amount of honour, whereas attacking a player with much less can take honour points away from you.  This means that you will usually only receive attacks from other players who are at roughly the same level as you, making the fights much fairer.

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There are a few issues I have with the game.  Firstly, an alliance’s notice board, which works like a forum, can only hold 10 topics, each of which has a rather small limit for replies.  Obviously this can make communicating and organising an alliance rather tricky and is something that most other games of a similar style have sorted fine.  There is an update coming soon though which sounds as though it will improve this.

Another issue, is that in the mid sort of levels, around 30ish, it can become quite tricky to find suitable targets to attack, due to the large number of high level players or high ranking alliances, you don’t want to pick a fight with someone who can reign death and destruction down on your castle afterwards.

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Also, the restricted view can sometimes make clicking on buildings awkward, thanks to the recently introduced planning mode, which just lays out the buildings as 2D shapes on the ground, this problem is largely solved, although being able to rotate the view might be a nice feature to have.

Overall, it’s a pretty good competitor in the MMO castle building genre.  I have come to prefer this over tribal wars due to the slightly more relaxed play style and not having to pay to be able to compete at any reasonable level.  You don’t need to be on for every minute of every day, I log in a few times a day and am progressing well, and the fact that the micro transactions aren’t stupidly expensive is a welcome change.

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