AD400 is a browser based strategy game from Gamebox. Set at the turn of the medieval age when years’s wars engulfed the whole European Continent, the game allows players to choose from one of three factions: Western Roman, Eastern Roman and the Hunnic Empire.

The brief empire introductions attached to the names would specify the strengths and weakness of the 3 empires respectively. After you have selected the empire, four heroes with unique skills and specialties will be listed before you. You can pick someone you prefer for your empire and the game starts. There are some words on the Internet that different races follow different storylines but I did not try all of races yet. I opted to be a tribal leader of ancient China.

Starting in the game, you will be presented a magnificently well-built oriental-style village. The graphics and figures, designed in the Tynon‘s style, are anything but beautiful or fascinating. The uniqueness and simplicity of the visual design feasted your eyes in every corner.

However, that is just the capital city of the empire you swear your allegiance to. You still need to toggle “personal castle” interface, where you are given a plot of land to build on. Given detailed brief tutorials on how the game mechanism functions and how to construct, the learning curve is fairly low. It does allow for a bit more freedom in building, as you’re able to place your buildings on whereever you want on the lands as long as they are unlocked.

There is a single player campaign in the game. The AI campaign itself isn’t really in depth and there is no strong story to keep players hooked. The premise is that you’re expanding your territory and you need to explore and take over other nations. The problem is that it is rather static and linear and you need to take over a certain nation before exploring the next one. The progress for this is rather fast and will get you stuck at certain points where you will have to recruit stronger units or hand in certain items to quest NPCs before proceeding again.

Combat in the game is done by means of “Turn-based”, the way similar to old school tactical RPGs. However, the action the character performs is not based on top-down chessboard-like battle area that has square or hexagon looking tile, but is viewed from a side-view camera angle, making it clear and easy for players to see the panoramic view of the situation.

The combat does not strictly follow the rules of “Turn-based”, in which opposite two factions take turns respectively – the AI takes a turn while the player does nothing. Instead, in each turn, both factions share the tactic phase, during which the player deploys tactical action, which is done by clicking on corresponding unit icons on the mini map to issue different commands. When the player ends the turn, both player and enemy’s forces move forward at the same time. When the melee units bump into each other, the combat begins. There is a flaw in the battle that your troops could only attack enemies on the same row, and attacking from the diagonal position is not possible.

There is a PVP system in AD400. Like what you’ve seen in other games, AD400 features one big world map where player’s kingdoms are spread, and new players randomly spawn in different places on the map. You can visit and attack other player’s kingdom. Visiting also allows players to support others by boosting construction speed, which helps other players and gives you a little bit bonus for your charitable act, or you can attack them and raid a supply depot when it holds maximum amount of resources. The imbalance issue about the attacking part is that the attacker does have a bit of an advantage. Since the battle is turn based, the attacking nation has the ability to control their units manually while the defending nation has to assign the AI to fight for them. It would have been a bit fairer if both nations were forced to use the AI to fight, not just for the defending nation.

Overall, AD400 isn’t bad, but it seems to emphasize too much on single player for something that is supposed to be a multiplayer online game in essence. Those who look for a more lonely gaming experience and try to compete with others in an almost risk-free way may find their heaven here. While those who do care about a bit more interaction, however, will feel a bit disappointed.