Little Empire is a Massively Multiplayer Backstabbing SimulatorS

Camel Games' high-polished "massively multiplayer online" empire building game Little Empires neatly demonstrates why we should never open ourselves up to the inevitable pain that friendship brings. Pretty heavy for a game with cartoon elves, right?

While it may be one of the cutest little empire building games I've come across on my Android phone, lurking beneath that cute mixture of 2D battles and 3D kingdom building lies a poisonous snake, waiting to strike.

The snake is called your friends list.

Perhaps I've been ruined by casual Facebook games. I expect when I add a random person to my friends list that they will join me on my quests, fight by my side, help me complete missions, and stop by my kingdom every once in a while for snacks and social points of some sort.

In Little Empire adding friends to my list gives them free reign to pop by and steal my resources any time they choose.

Little Empire is a Massively Multiplayer Backstabbing SimulatorS

In fact this sort of behavior is encouraged in the massively multiplayer world of Little Empire. There's a special mission that pops up requiring me to steal from my comrades twice. No doubt this would piss them off as much as it pissed me off, especially considering I spent six hours mining that gold, assholes.

I suppose the fury I feel is technically a good thing. It will encourage me to build more houses, upgrade my barracks, and build a massive cartoon army to crush those that would slight me. That's probably the whole point. It's just a pity I have to make them friends before they can steal my stuff.

While not infuriating the piss out of me, Little Empire is actually a rather lovely little free-to-play empire builder, with a little bit of tower defense tossed in for flavor. Players create an account, choose one of three hero characters to represent them in battle, and then build up their army. Rather than presenting combat as a simple numbers game, here you actually place your troops on the field, position your champion, and let slip the dogs of war. Battles are automatic from there, though players are able to cast the odd spell to help turn the tide when needed.

Players can battle non-player characters through a series of story missions, fight other players in the arena, or take the battle to their opponents' kingdoms, invading and enslaving them for a brief period of time. Maintaining a strong defensive force back at your castle is extremely important, as while you aren't playing your "friends" can't still attempt to kick your ass.

This colorful mixture of 3D kingdom sim and colorfully cute 2D sprite battles has its fair share of flaws. The instructions are vague. The game slows to a crawl at higher levels unless you purchase "Mojo", a special in-game currency used to speed up time or buy powerful skills and items. In short, it's a free-to-play game, and you get what you pay for.

Apparently I paid for my new friends to steal my damn gold.

Yes, I am quite bitter. It's not the gold. It's the principle of the thing. Now I am going to have to destroy them utterly, and that's never fun.

Okay, it's a little fun.

Little Empire [Android Market]