Vampires, Pirates and Hit Men

Farmtown and FarmVille are supremely popular games on Facebook these days, but I have spent a little time trying out three other Facebook games: Vampire Wars, Mafia Wars and Pirates: Rule the Caribbean!

The three games are all by the same company, Zynga. All three are similar, but have a few differences in game play that become more significant with time.

In all four, you have four basic statistics (called different things in each game): Money, health, action points and fight points.

Actions (called Plunders for pirates, Missions for vampires and Jobs for mafiosi) are the heart of the game. You get a list of actions to accomplish for each set of levels, and when you accomplish an action, you get experience points and money. Experience points will eventually bump you up to the next level and money can be used to buy equipment with which to complete actions.

As you reach new levels, you get additional points to allocate to health, action or fighting, as well as defense and attack skills. New missions and equipment open up too.

Fight points (Stamina for mafiosi, Rage for vampires and Strength for pirates) allow you to take on other players for more experience and money. I hate player-vs-player, though, so I opted out of pretty much all the fighting possibilities in all three games.

It’s much simpler than it sounds and the games are all very similar.

Vampire Wars has the best atmosphere, but then, I like vampires and the spooky creep factor. In this game, you can make your own vampire avatar, quests don’t have three separate levels (forcing you to repeat them ridiculous numbers of times), you can get random gifts each day and the abilities/items you buy can be enhanced.

The downside of Vampire Wars is that there don’t seem to be as many quests as there are in Pirates or Mafia, and it seems to be a slower game, generally speaking. I may have merely chosen the wrong "type" of vampire to be at the beginning. Also, your avatar is cool, but there aren’t that many options so most of them look about the same.

Mafia Wars randomly awards you items that you can collect, and when you gain all the items in a collection it gives you a bonus. Cool stuff for the Pokemon crowd, and you can make wish lists for items you want. You also get to go to Cuba eventually, but I’m only level 29, so I’m not there yet.

The downside is that each quest has three levels, so instead of repeating it just a few times, you have to repeat them many times in order to finish out a level.

Pirates is the best of the three games, in my opinion.

All three games have a way to give you continuous income over time, even when you’re not playing the game, but in Pirates, you have an island, too. On your island, you can place buildings which give you bonuses (extra energy per hour, reduction in costs for items) and collect resources, which can be traded for health refills, extra experience or energy refills.

The island gives you a lot of extra options that you just don’t have in the other games, allowing you to play for longer if you want to. Time is a big factor in all the games, since when you run out of action points and fight points, you’re pretty much done. Pirates has more options for renewing action points than the others, as far as I can tell.

The downside to Pirates is: you get a pirate pet, but no avatar. After having played the Vampires game I was really looking forward to making a cool pirate chick avatar, but alas, it doesn’t seem to be included in the game. Mafia Wars doesn’t have an avatar system either.

Another caveat on all these games, I take directly from Wikipedia: "Zynga has been accused of copying or cloning other popular online games for their own catalog." FarmVille looks an awful lot like Farmtown, and apparently, Mafia Wars looks an awful lot like Mob Wars, another popular online game.

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