Zynga Channels Settlers Of Catan In New Social Combat Game Empires & Allies; Debuts In 12 Languages

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Social gaming giant Zynga is launching its latest game tomorrow—Empires & Allies, the company’s first strategy combat game. Zynga is going big with this launch, debuting the game on Facebook in 12 languages (CityVille only launched in 5 languages). Zynga says this is the gaming company’s most social title to date.

Empires & Allies, which is the company’s first title to be launched out of Zynga’s Los Angeles studio, is set on a sprawling multi-island game board. The game itself is a cross between FarmVille and CityVille in terms of the layout and overall feel. There are two main parts to the game. First, players aim to build a island-nation by arming themselves against enemy forces and preparing for battle. Second, throughout the game, players build army units, recruit friends, and encounter allies and villains as fight their way across enemy-held territories on the quest to defeat the final villain. It’s sort of like Risk meets CityVille meets Settlers of Catan.

Once you secure you island, you begin to strategically place your housing units, community buildings, military bases, and farms with reinforcements against invading enemies. As you build your empire of Islands, Scarlett, a female personal military advisor will help advise you within the game.

Empires & Allies also introduces 30 other characters that help guide play and reveal plot secrets along the way. “The Raven” is tyrant who wanted his pet mascot to be an eagle. You’ll also fight “Captain Krunsch,” an old school seaman who relishes taking out his enemies with his bare, arthritic hands.

Of course, what makes Zynga’s game social is the ability to play and interact with your Facebook friends within the game. Empire & Allies allows you to build up your troops, recruit your friends and send them out to invade in-game villains.

You can also visit your neighbors’ empires to help them secure more energy, decorations and collectible items, and gain Honor Points along the way. And you can enlist your neighbors help in combat to quickly finish off enemies with special attacks.

For the first time in a Zynga combat game, you can actually fight your friends and choose to invade your neighboring friends’ empires to collect Infamy Points. Friends who are not invading you or a threat will have a red heart next to their icon and friends who are threats will have a gray heart.

While this is one of the few combat games for Zynga (Mafia Wars is also considered a combat game); Empires & Allies is definitely not for the hardcore gamer. As I wrote above, it combines elements of combat and hardcore gaming with more mainstream, casual components. Amer Ajami, executive producer of Empires & Allies at Zynga, says the focus of the game of combining social gaming with elements of combat gaming. He says the game is deinitely not for the hardcore gaming crew, and is designed to appeal to a wide audience.

“We’re focused on bringing our players a new form of entertainmen and a strategy game is definitely a new playground for us. Play is in everyone’s DNA, and this game lets you have fun and get creative by choosing your own destiny, building a nation and eventually, conquering the world, ” says Ajami.

One aspect of the game that Ajami says is worth noting is that it is significantly more social than any of Zynga’s previous games. Many of the social gaming interactions, such as fighting against your friends, are new to Zynga’s games, says Ajami.

Another question I had for Ajami was whether the game would appeal to both women and men. Ajami says that Zynga’s goal with Empires & Allies was to appeal to both genders. In fact, I’m told Empires & Allies is a hit with Zynga’s female employees.

Empires & Allies will be available at in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Indonesian, Turkish, Malay, Traditional Chinese, Korean and Norwegian tomorrow.