A Review of Neptune's Pride: The Online Strategy Game
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A Review of Neptune's Pride: The Online Strategy Game

A review of the real time strategy browser game provided by Iron Helmet Games. See how the game is won by using a careful mix of betrayal and strategy, but can take a very long time to get any kind of meaningful results. Not for those with short attention spans.

Neptune's Pride is a unique browser based strategy game, created and operated by Iron Helmet Games. The game runs in realtime, and players battle it out through a variety of free and premium games for total control of the galaxy. The only catch? The game takes a long time to play. Travelling from one star to another in the beginning moves of the game can take hours, sometimes more than a full day.

The gameplay of Neptune's Pride is quite simple to understand. Players conquer star systems, which can then be upgraded with Economy, Industry or Science upgrades. The cost of an upgrade is dependant on the resources available to a world, meaning certain systems have a greater strategic value than others. Economic upgrades increase your income by 10 every 24 hours, Industry builds 2 ships per day, while Science increases your number of Science points per hour. Building your empire is a careful balance between maintaining your fleets, and researching the many technologies which can improve your fighting ability.

The strategy side comes into play with regards to the huge time scale of the game. It's not as simple as continually building forces and sending them on a campaign across your enemy's space. Because it can take hours before a fleet arrives at its destination, your opponent has plenty of time to react to your attacks. Or, at the very least, can see that they are coming. Once a fleet is in motion, you cannot recall it, and it has a cool down period of 30 minutes before it can jump again. Planning ahead and being wary of traps is integral to your survival in the game. Who's to say your opponent isn't waiting just beyond your sensor range, ready to lure your carefully prepared fleets into a trap? Or he's waiting for you to begin your attack before starting his? This thin veil of paranoia gives Neptune's Pride its real flavour, and makes it a much more intriguing game compared to most other browser strategy games.

The paranoia doesn't stop there. Becoming a master of Neptune's Pride necessitates forming alliances with other players. There's too many expensive research trees to work on all of them by yourself, and closing off one flank of your empire by allying with a neighbour can spare you huge amounts of forces for another offensive. But unless you're in a premium game specifically set to allow alliances, none of it is backed up by gameplay mechanics. You have nothing to go on but your ally's word, and whether or not you trust them not to break it. Perhaps he's agreed to aid you to attack a third player, but is secretly funnelling technology to them so both of you weaken yourselves. Or he hasn't actually redirected his forces, and is preparing to betray you the moment your worlds are undefended.

The combination of paranoia, betrayal and long waiting times makes Neptune's Pride a truly nerve wracking game to play. It's definitely not for everyone, but the ability to log in once or twice a day and not miss out on anything makes it perfect for college students or people with full time jobs. By itself, Neptune's Pride is not a particularly interesting nor entertaining game. Waiting hours to see if your attack is successful isn't enjoyable for everyone. It's only when you take into account your other players, the people who will be luring you into traps and abusing your trust, that Neptune's Pride becomes something altogether different. It's definitely a niche game, but it is this uniqueness which makes it so different compared to other browser strategy games and which helps separate it from the legions of other strategy games online.

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