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EA Launches Ultima-Based Browser Game 106

Posted by Soulskill
from the my-face-has-gone-numb dept.
On Monday Electronic Arts launched Lord of Ultima, a free-to-play, browser-based strategy game that's based on the Ultima universe. Quoting VG247: "Set in the new world of Caledonia, players start the game as conquerors raising an empire, and then move from developing a village to evolving it into a highly customized capital. Players can be peaceful merchants by trading resources over land or sea and using diplomacy, or become feared conquerors using armies of knights and mages to crush their enemies one by one in maniacal glee."
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EA Launches Ultima-Based Browser Game

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  • Ultima memory... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by deesine (722173) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @03:21AM (#31919394)

    Finding the rocket in UII was a top ten gaming highlight.

  • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @03:32AM (#31919438) Journal

    The nice thing about these types of browser games is that they require real time to advance, meaning the game is playing even while you are not. I saw that your resources keep growing in the game and you can easily choose how much and how often you check the game. On the top it says my city is protected for the next 7 days until April 28th, and if I click on it theres a menu screen for Incoming Attacks (which will probably get populated if someone chooses to attack me). Perfect for playing even if you don't have that much time for it - just check every few days and issue some orders to queue.

    Another such "real-time" game I have played is a trucking simulator Trukz [trukz.com], where you cant drive your truck more than a 10-11 hours at a time. Then you have to wait that time to drive more, and unless you want to you aren't really required to get to the company stuff or other aspects in the game.

    I wonder why more traditional games haven't had such systems much. There's auctions in MMO's but it's more like a side-effect of the system, not a purpose. Otherwise your character/nation/whatever doesn't evolve at all if you aren't playing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TheKidWho (705796)

      Eve online is real time...

    • Then you have EVE online where character evolves realtime regardless of whether you play or not. (or even whether you are subscribed if you queue enough stuff). It is also very economy-oriented game and majority of that action takes place outside gameplay time.

      It kind of sucks because you can never, ever catch up to veteran from day 1.

      • by Jedi Alec (258881)

        (or even whether you are subscribed if you queue enough stuff).

        This isn't true anymore, "ghost training" as it was called has been disabled for quite a while now.

        It kind of sucks because you can never, ever catch up to veteran from day 1.

        Who cares? There's only so many skills you can train pertaining to 1 particular activity or ship anyway. The 2003 veterans can fly 20 or 30 ships "perfectly", I only have access to 15. Big fucking deal.

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Skills don't progress in EVE if you aren't subscribed - this "ghost training" was removed a year or so ago.

        It doesn't really matter that you started later than some veterans - all skills are capped at 5. So it is very possible that you will have the same skills for flying particular ships, since the amount of skills related to flying each ship is finite.

      • by Plekto (1018050) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @05:14AM (#31919920)

        ****
        Then you have EVE online where character evolves real-time regardless of whether you play or not. (or even whether you are subscribed if you queue enough stuff). It is also very economy-oriented game and majority of that action takes place outside gameplay time.

        It kind of sucks because you can never, ever catch up to veteran from day 1.
        ****
        Well, in a way you can. It only takes two people and 4-6 months of training one "class" of ship to really be able to punk all but the biggest and baddest ships out there. But with cloaks and such, it's easy to pick your targets. Obviously you're not going to street race some guy in a Ford F40 with your Civic, but that aging BMW might be possible to get close to with a few aftermarket mods... ;)

        In real terms, since the game itself is free to purchase, spend $40-60 up front that you would normally pay for the game itself on extra game cards. Use 2-4 of them to buy a 6 month or so old character to begin with. This saves you the initial grind for about the same cost and you can jump right into the game in hours instead of months. It's the initial six months that suck in the game. After that, there's much less that separates the older players from the younger ones.

        NOTE - they recently changed it, though, so that unpaid/inactive accounts stop training immediately - they don't continue any more while you are away. This, as expected, has generated a huge storm of complaints, but they are turning a blind eye to it.

        NOTE 2 - CCP, the company that runs the game are without a doubt some of the most anal and useless toads when it comes to customer service and bug fixes. They do what they want and simply never listen to the players or admit anything is wrong unless it's made major news. Just expect to play it as if support is essentially never an option and you're completely on your own. And I do mean completely. Think Wizards of the Coast support levels. Just don't even bother 99% of the time barring obvious stuff like getting stuck.

        But the game *is* fantastic once you ignore the company's irksome nature. It's without a doubt the best online game out there because literally anything you want to do is allowed and possible as soon as you step out of the newbie areas. Make money, make a guild, screw players over, lie, cheat, steal, bribe, or be a good guy(are there any left?) and hunt these scum down. Whatever you want to do... the company in charge pretty much ignores it unless you're literally breaking the game or doing real-life illegal acts.

        And that's why I still like it after all of these years. Most other games like it force you to be good, play along, and are as boring as a stick of chewing gum that you've been chewing for an hour. At least with this one you can head out to the bad areas and, well, BE as bad as you can manage to be. That's kind of refreshing, actually, given the idiocy and nannying that most games now suffer from.

        • Not being able to catch up to a veteran is one of the drawbacks of the single server for all players that Eve uses.

          Don't know if Lord of Ultima will have more than one server; but competing games like Jagex's War of Legends have multiple servers, with new ones coming always online. If veteran players are dominating the old servers, you can just start up on one of the new.

          • by Calinous (985536)

            Many other browser-based MMO do this (and Lord of Ultima already have four servers - but maybe only for geographical reasons).

            • by Plekto (1018050)

              The best option though that I know of is where the competition runs in rounds. If you reset everyone every 3 or 6 months, it allows for a "winner" and prizes and so on as well as a fresh start for new players. With 2 or 3 games cycling, it never gets old. A good example of this in action is Planetarion. It's still going along despite being horribly dated in many ways. Because it's fun, cheap, and more importantly, there's no ability to become entrenched and powerful.

              Games need an ending. The best exam

      • There was an online game I use to play years ago where you developed a nation and minions and attacked others etc as some sort of arch mage. They solved that problem by having 'Armageddon' every few months and starting everyone more or less over. I don't recall what it was called.

    • by cmaxx (7796)

      In a word: 'Eve' (um, 'Online' :)

    • The nice thing about these types of browser games is that they require real time to advance, meaning the game is playing even while you are not. I saw that your resources keep growing in the game and you can easily choose how much and how often you check the game. On the top it says my city is protected for the next 7 days until April 28th, and if I click on it theres a menu screen for Incoming Attacks (which will probably get populated if someone chooses to attack me). Perfect for playing even if you don't have that much time for it - just check every few days and issue some orders to queue.

      Another such "real-time" game I have played is a trucking simulator Trukz [trukz.com], where you cant drive your truck more than a 10-11 hours at a time. Then you have to wait that time to drive more, and unless you want to you aren't really required to get to the company stuff or other aspects in the game.

      I wonder why more traditional games haven't had such systems much. There's auctions in MMO's but it's more like a side-effect of the system, not a purpose. Otherwise your character/nation/whatever doesn't evolve at all if you aren't playing.

      Corncob 3d had a "feature" like this, where if you destroyed allied sites, you were thrown in the stockade for so a few days. Those days were in real-time. Of course, back in the days of DOS, and without NTP, intarwebs, user-access/root-access, changing the time and cheating this wasn't that hard...just had to remember to change the clock back.

    • This reminds me of another fantastic free strategy game called Tribal Wars [tribalwars.net]... I have spent so many hours enthralled in its strategy and tactics! (I am in no way affiliated with this game other than an avid player)
    • by Z34107 (925136)

      If this game does sound like something you'd be interested in, join World 3 (the NA EST server). Whisper Zeal, Temple, or Danderfluff for an invite into the NakedAndPetrified alliance.

    • Another game that has been using this is OGame [ogame.org].

      The problem is that even though it may seem like it gives you more freedom, this type of game will cost you a lot more time than you'd want. I used to play on the first french universe, the raider game style forced me to have a fleet, that other users wanted. As the universe matured and gamers became more experienced, the tactics and techniques developed quickly outpaced the easy going playing style.

      Before I retired from the game, I inherited an account i
    • As a few others have stated, Eve is just like this.

      I've been playing online games, off and on, in various forms since the early 90's on Muds. I'm the classic person who should NOT be playing games like World of Warcraft.

      I've got an addictive personality and i waste vast amounts of time playing them, often at the neglect of things that should take priority.

      I started playing eve, and it seems to have cured my desire to spend time on the game daily. I might login once in a while to change the queuing for my

    • Perfect for playing even if you don't have that much time for it - just check every few days and issue some orders to queue.

      Wrong. It always starts out like this, but as you build your empire/character/whatever, you find yourself having to pay more and more attention to the game. Slowly your life starts to revolve around the game rather than the other way around. Every second you don't play gives your opponents an opportunity to move ahead. Truly nerve-racking.

      • by Calinous (985536)

        And every second you play gives you an opportunity to move ahead of the ones around you. And it soon starts to aggregate and to need more and more time. Building one village is easy, building 10 villages at the same time is also easy, but once you have armies, targets and so on it starts to be a time sink

  • by Yuioup (452151) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @03:34AM (#31919448)
    It comes complete with Natalie Portman [kotaku.com].

    Y
  • [long_no] (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xtense (1075847) <xtense.o2@pl> on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @03:48AM (#31919532) Homepage

    As someone, who was with the series from the very beginning (Yep, Akalabeth and all the spinoffs too.), I think I speak for all fans of Ultima when I say...

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

    That said, I feel this particular title should stay buried under hazy, but beautiful memories, as one of the precursors of RPGs, and a very good series of games. Reviving this as anything other than an RPG game dilutes it's essence - it's amazing storyline, great set of characters and innovative approaches to quests.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      As a fellow long-time Ultima fan let me just say that the "hazy, beautiful memory" of Ultima was stabbed in the heart when Ultima Online was released; and then the corpse was violated and burned when the abomination known as "Ultima Ascension" was released.

      Ultima has been dead and gone for a long time, and it didn't even get a good burial. Can't even blame EA for that, the blame lies squarely with Richard Garriott and Starr Long, who decided during Ultima 9's development that MMORPGs were far more importan

      • Re:[long_no] (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew&gmail,com> on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @10:28AM (#31922700) Homepage Journal

        Richard Garriot said that EA demanded the entire U9 team move over to focus on UO, and then nearly 3 years into development, EA demanded they basically scrap the whole game to focus on a new 3D engine and start from scratch.

        That being said, EA owns Bioware, perhaps the best RPG shop today. Richard Garriot isn't working for NC Soft anymore. Can bridges be mended? Most people today have heard the name Ultima, but they've never played the old Ultima games. The original trilogy was all over the place to begin with. Hobbits and such just disappeared from existence.

        Why not reboot the Ultima franchise? No new worlds. No samurai. Just do Sosaria properly in an engine like Oblivion or Dragon Age.

        • by Chuk (89731)

          Richard Garriot said that EA demanded the entire U9 team move over to focus on UO, and then nearly 3 years into development, EA demanded they basically scrap the whole game to focus on a new 3D engine and start from scratch.

          That being said, EA owns Bioware, perhaps the best RPG shop today. Richard Garriot isn't working for NC Soft anymore. Can bridges be mended? Most people today have heard the name Ultima, but they've never played the old Ultima games. The original trilogy was all over the place to begin with. Hobbits and such just disappeared from existence.

          Why not reboot the Ultima franchise? No new worlds. No samurai. Just do Sosaria properly in an engine like Oblivion or Dragon Age.

          Somebody mod this guy up.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Gulthek (12570)

      Don't speak for me! I have the Ultima Collection and periodically replay the gems. Exalt is also great for actually playing Ultima 7, although 5 is still my favorite.

  • Sorry but... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zr-rifle (677585) <zedr&zedr,com> on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @03:49AM (#31919536) Homepage
    if Lord British is not involved in the project it really doesn't qualify as a real Ultima for me. So it's merely an attempt to cash in on the Ultima franchise while it's still lukewarm. Oh, and by the way...

    > feared conquerors using armies of knights and mages to crush their enemies one by one in maniacal glee.

    Why... very Ultimish I would say... what happened to the eight virtues, making ethical decisions in order to become an Avatar (U4), resolving conflicts thorugh the use of peace and diplomacy (U6), etc...?

    Just call it 'WOW in a browser'.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      what happened to the eight virtues, making ethical decisions in order to become an Avatar

      They didn't want to upset James Cameron.

    • Why... very Ultimish I would say... what happened to the eight virtues, making ethical decisions in order to become an Avatar (U4), resolving conflicts thorugh the use of peace and diplomacy (U6), etc...?

      Ask Lord British, who built the original "crush your enemies with maniacal glee" Ultima (UO).

    • by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @04:35AM (#31919754)

      Why... very Ultimish I would say... what happened to the eight virtues, making ethical decisions in order to become an Avatar (U4), resolving conflicts thorugh the use of peace and diplomacy (U6), etc...?

      Electronic Arts has altered the franchise. Pray they do not alter it further.

      • by xtracto (837672)

        +1 geek reference :)

        I also remember the Ultima game for NES (the only one I played) with fond memories! the "virtues" dimension really gave the game great depth compared to other series of the same era/system such as Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest.

        • I believe both Ultima III Exodus and Ultima IV Quest of the Avatar both made it to the NES. Ultima VII (maybe my favorite game of all time) was ported to the SNES pretty poorly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Goffee71 (628501)
      It is indeed a cashless cash-in, having a game with the Ultima title and no RPGing involved, I was hoping for the classic 8-bit-era game, perhaps with a little tweaking. Alas, no.
    • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      Why... very Ultimish I would say... what happened to the eight virtues, making ethical decisions in order to become an Avatar (U4), resolving conflicts thorugh the use of peace and diplomacy (U6), etc...?

      Those were nestled in other times. There was stealing food from the drive-thru window at Britania's McDonalds where avoiding guards was a quick few steps out of the city limits (Ultima II). Or seizing a ship in a busy town port meant domination of the entire town's police force (Ultima III). Then there was Ultima Online. An entire "community" of murderers and theives that were either opposed by small bands of bounty-hunters and the occasional posse or served by merchant guilds who's malls profited by be

  • by Bugamn (1769722) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @04:01AM (#31919602) Journal
    EA created its own Travian in Ultima setting?
    • by Palantar (938968)

      EA created its own Travian in Ultima setting?

      Really? You found some Ultima setting? All I found was Travian. Even that intrigued me because I thought that no one would dare put stupid microtransactions in an Ultima game, so maybe it would be better than Travian. Then I hit the "Shop" button. Lord British rolled over in his grave/coffin/gilded mansion. You know, whatever they put game designers in who are done designing real games.

  • Fun so far (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by ShakaUVM (157947)

    It's fun so far, though I'm most looking forward to Stronghold Kingdoms (www.strongholdkingdoms.com/) when it enters beta.

  • Yet another clone (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @04:23AM (#31919700) Homepage

    Yet another clone of Hamurabi [wikipedia.org]...

    As to the claim that the player can expand "peacefully"? Yeah, right. If it's like other games of its ilk, the only way to be peaceful is to have the biggest, baddest army around or by being part of the biggest, baddest alliance around. Otherwise, you're just meat.

  • "We Create Worlds" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thylordroot (1794396) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @04:26AM (#31919722)
    Origin's motto was "We Create Worlds." I think EA's might as well be "We Destroy Them." The Ultima series was so masterfully crafted that I have shown it to hardcore Final Fantasy fans and have watched their jaws drop in pure amazement. I am not sure what others think about this, but I have noticed that just about every franchise that EA got ahold of due to acquisition has been adulterated in some of the most bizarre ways. I'm no longer surprised that even franchises acquired from Maxis are no longer worth keeping up with. Naturally there will be independent developers who will always fill the gap, but it is never good to see an astounding series go down the drain. I can only hope that gems such as Ultima are rediscovered by gamers and that they will begin to demand the kind of top-notch quality we expected in the 80s and early 90s.
  • by migla (1099771) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @04:36AM (#31919756)

    Played for a while, until I clicked "Get diamonds" and was taken to a page to enter credit card details. With diamonds I could get a magical bronze hammer or something, which in turn would magically give me extra food, wood and stone.

    So, if you're rich and like a game where real world money gives power, knock yourself out.

    As far as I'm concerned AE can stick this game right up their butt.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nkh (750837)
      You're lucky. I played for 5 minutes, tried to buy a "Building Minister" and when I clicked on Shop it told me that my session expired. The game was interesting but it's not free-to-play at all, and it has a few bugs to iron out.
      • You're lucky. I played for 5 minutes, tried to buy a "Building Minister" and when I clicked on Shop it told me that my session expired. The game was interesting but it's not free-to-play at all, and it has a few bugs to iron out.

        Having the option to spend real-world money does not mean it's not free to play - buying things is not required.

    • by Nico3d3 (930755)
      So, in other words it's another Farmville only with more complex interactions and strategy.
  • Quick review... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_mind_ (157933) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @04:49AM (#31919798)

    I have been playing this game for a few weeks now since the closed beta.

    I can safely say that the game at this stage is no where near release ready.
    Its definitely forced out of beta by some bean counter.

    Heaps of bugs, even more then your average EA game.
    No trading system. You can send resources but you have to trust the other party to send back what he promised. And you can't trade gold at all.
    Graphical glitches galore.
    Buttons to buy "power items" with real money everywhere.
    The artificial restraints put in place to encourage you to buy power-ups are way to strict.
    The ranking system only takes the amount of buildings you have into account. Nothing about army size.
    Poor graphics that are not much better then place holders.

    Having said all that, the game is still quite fun to play if you are in to this sort of game.
    After you have your cities set up, a 15min gaming session twice a day is enough to keep playing.
    So its perfect game to play on your lunch break.

    If you want to play, don't make the mistake of building a castle in your first city.
    You will get ripped apart by a large army within a day if you do.

    • by Calinous (985536)

      This was true in other similar games (and there were point whores that had no troops to speak of).

    • And?

      You're looking at a game from EA. You actually spent time in doing so? Better yet, did Beta-testing for them?
      EA used to be a brilliant company, many years ago, when it called itself EOA. Times change, companies go to waste, and earn my filter badge. Even EA turned into a piece of garbage, not worthy of my attention (and, worse, money).

      • EA used to be a brilliant company, many years ago, when it called itself EOA. Times change, companies go to waste, and earn my filter badge. Even EA turned into a piece of garbage, not worthy of my attention (and, worse, money).

        While the old logo on the Commodore 64 looked liked it said EOA, I'm pretty sure it was supposed to be ECA.

        • Aaaaah... have a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_Arts [wikipedia.org], Section 'Logos': The three shapes were meant to stand for the "basic alphabet of graphic design." Nix EOA, and nix ECA.
          Looks like we both learned something new today ;)

          (PS: Yeah, I loved the C64, too, but preferred the 48K ZX Spectrum, which actually had more available RAM)

    • by tomk (20364)

      Heaps of bugs, graphical glitches, broken quests (trading)? Sounds just like Ultima 9.

  • by stjobe (78285) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @05:10AM (#31919878) Homepage

    EA games, where computer franchises go to die.
    EA games, milking the last drop out of a franchise near you!
    EA games, if it makes a buck who cares about lore or canon?
    EA games, We Destroy Worlds(tm). (thanks thylordroot)

  • by dgym (584252) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @05:26AM (#31919982)
    EA also produce Battle Field Heroes which is free to play. They originally stated that the premium content would be limited to perks, and not give a significant game play advantage. They later decided to change that, so although you can still play for free you are very much limited to being cannon fodder for those that have bought the extremely powerful abilities and weapons.

    Why should we expect anything to be different with Lord of Ultima? In this sort of game you can spend months building everything up, and someone else can destroy it in a week, so people are going to feel compelled to buy competitive advantages if they are available.

    Free to start but expensive once you are addicted, this is becoming such a common business model it needs its own word.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Xerp (768138)
      I believe the acronym here is P2W (pay to win)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by khallow (566160)
      The first hit is free.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Hurricane78 (562437)

      I came here to say exactly that: It is not free to play! It is free to use.
      Playing involves by definition a motivating interest curve (the base of all game design), which itself unconditionally demands a certain ratio of winning. And this is not the case with those so-called “free to play” games.

      Basically, unless you pay (usually more than with normal games), you’re just walking around in a very elaborate lounge. It’s not even a demo, since a demo also includes playing.

      So you don

    • "Crackware."

  • Purchase 13000 Diamonds 99.99 USD lol
  • If you are looking for a free to play browser rts, try War of Legends. The games is published by Jagex makers of Runescape, a company that generally treats its customers well.

    War of Legends was also launched at the beginning of April, so I wonder if EA is forcing Lord of Ultima out the door to compete. It's tough to compete with Jagex in the browser game space though. After all, Runescape has something like 6 million players (5 million free, 1 million subscribers).

  • It's like Baron Realms Elite, Trader Wars, and Ultima all mashed together.

    What a waste.

  • It's Travarian with a few references to ultima... wait, there are not references. So it's just Travarian. Also, it sucks.
  • I read the title and got excited. "Wow EA is really innovating" I thought.

    Then I read the summary and found it was just a shitty evony clone riding off the success of the best RPG series. These games have been done for decades, why make yet another.

    They're also the easiest things to make, reports of bugs just shows how shit EA really is. No original ideas, crap programmers.

  • Sadly, Ultima is produced by Origin games. Anyone else attempting to provide an Ultima game besides Origin games is sellling nothing more then a rip off of something that was great.

    Sorry EA, putting the Ultima name on anything with Origin and Lord British is just smoke up our asses and I am gassy enough as it is...

  • Evony clone... (Score:1, Redundant)

    by CountZer0 (60549)

    This is just EA creating an Evony clone and trying to cash in on the Ultima franchise. Pathetic really.

  • This looks like it has about as much connection to the source material as Legends of Zork [legendsofzork.com] which was a bitter disappointment. Why was this even a good idea? It's not like Ultima has a lot of name recognition in the non-geek populace, and anyone who has enjoyed anything about the Ultima series will hate this.
  • based on the Ultima universe. Quoting VG247: "Set in the new world of Caledonia

    So... How is it based on Ultima if it's not got anything to do with the former worlds?
    Also: Is it just Britannia with kilts?

  • Know that Britannia has entered into a new age of enlightenment!
    Know that the time has finally come for the one true Lord of Britannia to take His place at the head of His people!
    Under my guidance, Britannia will flourish. And all the people shall rejoice and pay homage to their new... Guardian!
    Know that you, too, shall kneel before me, Avatar. You, too, shall soon acknowledge my authority - for I shall be your companion... your provider... and your master!

  • Sic transit gloria mundi. [So passes away the glory of this world.] -- Thomas `a Kempis

    Fare thee well, Britannia!

  • It almost plays on my iPad. The UI loads. There's some problem loading data.

    On my desktop I started picking it apart. The front page seems to be some enormously complex JavaScript, and that JavaScript does not contain "object" in it at all anywhere.

    Neat! I kinda bet Adobe is a bit concerned.

  • The game is free to play, but you can actually "put coins into the machine" to upgrade yourself above your competitors (by buying "diamonds" and spending them on yourself for combat and tactical enhancements).

    Essentially, the more money you put into the game, the better you'll probably do at it; sort of defeats the purpose for anyone who just wants to play without excess enhancements. This essentially puts the game into the realm of Zynga-type, Facebook-esque games where you can upgrade yourself through ca

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