This game has a massive meta-game on top of it, so I can't see them patching out the online requirement. You basically get votes depending on what you do in the game. The votes help guide the overall game somehow. I never made it far enough to get in to that, though.
The game itself is very similar to Dawn of Discovery. Kind of similar to Settlers. It's a resource management game, spread out over islands. So you have to set up shipping routes for goods. Personally I didn't care much for the game, but I just get bored with that type of gameplay. It was a pretty game though. Worth $25 (with 50% coupon)? Not to me. Just couldn't hold my interest.