Instantly when you load the game site, you are greeted with excellent visuals that set an epic ancient battle atmosphere. Once you login, you select one of 4 races: Romans, Chinese, Persians, and Egyptians. Each race has unique units, bonuses and race feature. Once you choose your hero and city name, there is a brief story trailer which you can skip. You start with building your city with the help of a step by step tutorial under the name of ‘quests’. At first, you feel like it is similar to Travian or Ikariam but you soon realise that as you can set your buildings anywhere you please like a RTS game.
After creating the elemental buildings, you are now ready to equip your hero, add troops to your party and ready for battle. When you select your army and send them to battle, you can actually see your troops moving across the map towards the enemy. Once reached the destination, you can select whether you would like to control the battle manually or choose automatic. If you choose manual, you enter the battle field where you can control your hero and units in true RTS style, which is quite impressive for a browser game. When you win battles, you gain points which you could later distribute among XP, MP, Power and Intelligence as with similar hero systems.
The game also requires you to collect resources to build your army before you take on the World. You build farms, forests, mines, etc. on the outskirt of your city. At this point you have learnt all the basics to get you going and the game starts you on your first 1 on 1 battle with another player. The system matches you with another online player of the same level and you begin battle as before (once again you can choose to take control with manual battle mode or let the computer do the work with automatic mode). After this battle, the quick tutorial is pretty much over and you can freely begin to explore the interface to find out more. When you dig deeper into the game by clicking on the quests icon, you find out that you can improve on your empire with research and as you do, your empire advances through the ages like in Sid Meier's Civilization and Age of Empire games.
The game features 3 views of command: city, outskirts and world map. The city is where you have your main buildings, outskirts for resources and world map is where you can see other players on the server. You also find out that on this map you can expand your city and occupy new land. There is also a map icon on the interface which shows you the full map of the entire server and it’s vastness just took my breath away. It really gives the player the urge to build and conquer it all!
Another thing that instantly strikes you with the interface it the global chat where you witness players getting social, discussing game tactics, trade items and form alliances to take on enemies together. As with all browser games, you need an internet connection to play and you are left behind when you are away. The game also rewards the players for sticking around 10, 30, and 60 minutes on end.
With just an hour of play, as a hardcore gamer I’m intrigued to find out more. This is a good sign, as I’m usually not a big fan of browser based games. While this game pushes the limits of the browser, it doesn’t feel too heavy as likely to crash it. The only disadvantage I found was that when you are exploring the world map with other players there are brief bursts of loading time. While this isn't really much of an inconvenience if you have a fast connection, it is a reminder that regardless of how you look at it, this is just a browser game.
Overall, Ministry of War is a brilliant example and well built game showing the full potential of what could be done on browsers. It is unlike anything I’ve seen with Flash technology before. The only thing I found that is lacking with this game is perhaps a desktop client. After all, if you are going to spend weeks and months on end to gather, build, and battle to conquer all, the little seconds of loading time will add up and might be critical in your strategy. No core gamer would want to lose due to ‘lag’