Phenomic, partnered with Electronic Arts, brings a web based casual strategy game based in the world of Ultima, from the Ultima Online Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) released in 1997 that bases its style on medieval folklore. While in actuality Lord of Ultima has little to do with the original MMORPG it is nonetheless great casual fun. With virtually no application installation required and little startup time you can easy hop in and out of this casual game as your schedule permits, and you do not need much free time to in order enjoy the game or advance within the game. Lord of Ultima is simply a mashup of text-based web MMOs with of the past, which have gained increased popularity recently through facebook, and Warcraft style micromanagement town building strategy, also a game from the past seeing a resurgence through the soon to be released StarCraft II.
The basic gameplay revolves around building up your town to harvest resources and growing your troop strength. I highly recommend getting familiar with the buildings and the bonuses they receive from neighboring other structures as this will make our break your town in the long run. Once you have leveled up your buildings high enough to establish a castle within your city walls you can begin to enjoy the MMO aspect of the game in which you can raid other players’ towns and attempt to take control of their castles ultimately expanding your empire, but be sure you build your defenses up to counter anyone attempting to capture your town. Just as with most MMOs you can form alliances with other players online to pool your resources and work as a team towards world domination, this too is easy to do and highly recommended.
What makes this a casual game is the fact that every time you build new structures, upgrade existing structures, or adjust troop strength your activity is placed in a queue and is attributed a time until task completion, which can grow into hours per activity as you reach higher levels. You can fill up your queue with activities and then return to the game the next day to see your progress and select new tasks to top off your queue and make strategic advancements with your troops. Also, resources required to advance your town slowly stream into your resource funds based on your built up extraction structures so that once you deplete your funds you will have to wait a few hours before you have enough resources to build some more in your town. The nice thing is that resource nodes in your town do not become depleted. If you want a fast paced strategy game, then this is not the game for you as you will end up staring at the screen for hours until you get to make your next move and the rudimentary graphics may permanently burn into your retinas.
Lord of Ultima uses micro transactions as its funding source, so in essence the game is free to play, but the more money you are willing to spend the faster you will become more powerful. I have no problem surviving without making any purchases; however you are highly unlikely to become the true Lord of Ultima if you do not splurge on some monetary driven advantages. I highly recommend this game to casual gamers looking for a new place to establish an empire.