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FarmVille developer’s Empires & Allies lets you make war with friends

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Social network game developer Zynga has had an enormous amount of success selling peace in an industry that has historically generated many billions of dollars each year in making war. Virtual war, sure, but death and destruction-dealing all the same. Zynga Poker and especially the Farm, City and Frontier flavors of Ville games stand as proof that there’s more to interactive escapism than swords and high-caliber weapons. Zynga’s not afraid of making war though, and its latest game, Empires & Allies, challenges players to do just that.

The game is Zynga’s first combat-oriented strategy release, and the press release notes that it includes “more social features than any Zynga game.” Play unfolds across a series of island-nations, each one built up by a individual players. In addition to elements that might be familiar to fans of the Ville games, Empires & Allies also features gameplay mechanics for building an army and making war. Executive producer Amer Ajami describes it as “CityVille meets Risk.”

“We’re focused on bringing our players a new form of entertainment 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,” he said.

The game launches today with support for 12 languages: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Indonesian, Turkish, Traditional Chinese, “and for the first time,” Malay, Korean and Norwegian.

Empires & Allies is noteworthy as a new direction for Zynga, but there’s another layer to consider here as well. Firaxis Games, the home of Sid Meier and the popular Civilization PC game series, is currently working on the Facebook game Civilization World. While it carries over elements of the computer-based series, the gameplay boils down to city-building and a card-based army vs. army combat system. Zynga stepping up early with Empires & Allies is a shrewd move, allowing a base of users to build before a similar experience launches under the Civ brand.

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