1000 A.D.: Not Different Enough
Being a history junkie, it didn't take me long to jump at the chance to play a game who's theme is centered around a historical period. 1000 A.D. brings you back to a century where the Vikings -- led by Leif Erickson -- discovered America (1000 A.D), the Chinese developed the water-powered clock (1090 A.D.), and the Byzantine Empire controlled much of Southern Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa. Before I scare people off thinking that 1000 A.D. is an educational game, just relax. 1000 A.D. is a free, turn base, strategy in which you build up your empire and compete against other players in the hopes of winning the current round.
With 1000 A.D. you have four game modes to choose form: standard, tournament, blitz, and a beta testing game for upcoming releases into the game. The game modes vary by minutes per turn and the limit of turns you'll be able to store. 1000 A.D. offers 10 playable civilizations which includes the Turks, Inca, and Franks. Each of the 10 civilizations have their own unique features providing you the chance to find one that matches your style and strategy.
Your learning curve will vary depending on the experience you have with other strategies of this type. Even with no, or little, experience, you won't feel like a fifth grader in a nuclear fusion seminar. The tutorial provided on their website is very user friendly and detailed, as well as giving you a few tips in getting your empire started. Although, if you have played your fair share of strategies, 1000 A.D. doesn't do anything to revolutionized the genre.
As in most strategies of it's kind, you have your basic features and options like building structures, exploring for land, training your army, researching skills/bonuses, and attacking other players not in your alliance, or clan. With that being said, 1000 A.D. does provide more detail and depth with their features and options than most. You'll have 16 different buildings with different attributes, each important in their own right. You have three types of land to explore while making sure you have the right buildings and resources to enable you to explore. There's 10 different military units to train, and each civilization will have their own unique unit. The researches you'll be able to learn aides you greatly while trying to grow your empire. There's 18 researches that increase various production and stats. When attacking other players, you have three attack style to choose from -- army, catapult, and thieve -- and up to 13 sub-options combined. You'll spend a good amount of time forming different strategies to become successful, and it also makes up for the game having no storyline or back-story that would help you get further into the game.
The flaw with most strategy games like 1000 A.D. is the lack of a story. If for any reason you fall behind, or join during mid-round, you can quickly be turned off and find yourself looking for another game. Traditionally, most strategies don't concern themselves with this and gives you the straight-forward purpose of battling for the top player spot during each round. Don't get me wrong, the challenge of being the best is always one of the most enjoyable features to a game. It just becomes hard to distinguish between each strategy game you come across, since once you take away their theme (i.e.: middle ages, outer-space) you'll be able to find the same game anywhere else. However, with a good or unique story, gamers will find a reason to continually come back and become attach with the game. This also helps a strategy game stand out from all the rest.
Now, ending on a negative wouldn't be entirely fair since compared to some strategies, 1000 A.D. is a slightly above-average game. The replayability is moderately high for a round or two, even though the potential redundancy in game play is there. The 1000 A.D website is fairly organized, so you won't get confused in trying to figure out what's what, or how to start playing the game. Most games lately just start throwing links, update articles, and miscellaneous things around on their website where it becomes a game in itself to figure out how to register and start playing. 1000 A.D. has few graphics, but the ones they have aren't that bad and go with the theme well. Which it should be said, graphics are not everything. The game options menu is a little cumbersome, but manageable to navigate through. Overall, the complete interface of 1000 A.D. doesn't hurt the game, and can be appreciated to a certain extent.
I enjoy the theme of 1000 A.D., but only wish they would of had some sort of story to really stand out. Even while mixed into the fold with so many other strategy games, 1000 A.D. does deliver depth and detail with the options of game play offered. If you're looking get into strategy games and experience the basics of them, or trying to find one to spend a few rounds playing, this wouldn't be a bad one to try.