Developer: Ngmoco, Inc.
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★☆☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

IMG_0052Freemium games are gaining popularity, given the insane sales numbers for games like Farmville and Mafia Wars. The most recent iteration of this approach to gaming is We Rule from developer Ngmoco, inc. Riddled with network problems, its release may have been a bit pre-mature. That said, where Farmville never caught on with me, I can’t put this game down.

We Rule takes players into a medieval world where the main objective is to gain experience by building up a medieval city. An excellent set of tutorial quests provide a seamless entry into the world of building a kingdom. Keep in mind I spent entirely too much time with Evony when it first became big, so I have a familiarity with these games. If this is your first relationship with a freemium style game, the time period that growth requires takes some getting used to. Instead of the standard pick up a game, play it, and put it down; We Rule, and games like it, take long periods of short bursts of playing, with the goal of accumulating resources over longer period of times.

We Rule allows players to interact with one another by purchasing services from one another on the Plus+ Network using a players friends list. Purchases are made using in-game currency, and it takes time for a player to complete an order. This helps both players obtain money and experience. As a kingdom expands, more and more services are available for purchase, and more interaction can occur between players. Players can visit their friend’s kingdoms, check out their designs, purchase some services, and head back to their own kingdoms seamlessly.

Each activity takes a specific period of time. Early on a high volume of activities can occur without much waiting involved. It doesn’t take long, however, before tasks are taking a lot of time to complete. For those looking to rise in ranks quickly, or obtain some cash for that new building, mojo is available. Depending on the activity, a certain number of mojos allow for instant completion of the task at hand. Early on it only requires a single mojo for activities to complete. As tasks become longer, the number of mojos required increases. This is where the pre“mium” part of freemium comes into play. If things aren’t going quick enough, different volumes of mojo are available for purchase with real world currency through in-app purchase. These mojos can then be used to speed up production and building times, or later on to purchase items.

At certain level intervals it is possible to expand the play area, or kingdom, in order to allow for additional resources or buildings to be placed. These expansions require in game currency. In game currency is obtained in several different ways. The most basic way is through farming. Each crop takes a certain period of time to grow, and once completed reaps a fairly significant prize. Houses can be built to produce tax earnings every few hours, and production buildings can be built to bring in revenue from other players as well.

It’s important to make sure to check back around the time that crops are planned to finish growing. I started a five hour crop before heading off to my day job, came home and found that server maintenance was up, and left my iPod at home while I headed out to play a round of Dungeons and Dragons with the guys. When I fired We Rule up after returning home, I was met with frown faces on each of my farm squares. These server connection issues aren’t few and far between, and many players are feeling the frustration of timing their growth rates on items just right, only to come back and find the server down yet again.

There are other errors that still need to be worked out before We Rule can really advance to a viral game like FarmVille has become. There is a real lack of activity once you enter the double digit levels. Game play becomes repetitive, and the overall feel of the game becomes “who can collect more, faster”. Many users are complaining about the inability to see friends within the kingdom screen, and there are serious lag issues as well. Ngmoco needs to take some serious time evolving higher level game play, as well as ironing out these issues surrounding the overall server health.

It’s going to take a little bit of time for We Rule to get its server issues under control, but this game has become a solid keeper on my iPod. Anyone who has grown accustomed to the freemium platform will find this game to be a solid entry into the genre. There is no real risk in trying out this game, as it is a free game with in-game purchases available. Without serious improvements though, We Rule will be lost in the masses of game apps as just a novelty item for a select few enthusiasts.

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