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SummaryThe undisputed Age of Empires III
The Good*2nd Review Update
So there I was, hearing rumors of an Age of Empires III that turned out Age of Mythology. Unfortunately for us AoE fans, Age of Empires III turned out to be a pile of crap. At least AoM wasn't disappointing at the least. Hah, they finally use "mythology" has a main theme. See this is what happens when people start thinking "Medieval RPG". Hey, nothing can go wrong with "Medieval RPG Thinking" :p
So Age of Mythology did a total upgrade to old AoE II game play. From 2D to 3D and very stable I might add, which was still rare considering 3D graphics were quite new, very unstable for a lot of games.
I remember the first time I saw the intro cut scene. My jaw was in awe. The sight of mythological units was somewhat amazing. The fact that I've never seen a giant beetle unit is very much memorable.
The game itself comprises of the different approaches, which is represented by the 3 different races:
Each with different units, different abilities but also different techniques and styles of playing. It’s like playing cards, the difference is the Greek is Poker, Egyptian is Blackjack, and Norse is Bridge. They all have different rules of playing which makes it all more complicated (and fun!).
GODS - Technological Tree
The age advances now are represented by gods. Each race has different gods which represent an outline of a technological tree. The first choice is to define 1 out of 3 possible Major Gods, which will branch into several Minor Gods. Each God has their own specialties effecting units, powers, and game play tactics (ie. production, etc.)
The units are divided into 3 major groups:
Well its a little more complicated than that, since some units don't follow the rule above (replace "good" with "usually good"). Basic units are the main bulk of the army. Infantry, Ranged, Cavalry, Artillery --> the numerous and often cheap. The hero units are the leaders of your armies. The elite single unit that can fight off many units at the same time and usually gifted with unique powers. Myth units are the monsters in the game. The representation of the wraith or blessings of the gods in physical manifestation. The presence of these “Myth Units” is the soul of what Age of Mythology is all about.
Strategy and Tactics
This is the most unique and complex RTS I've played yet. To a certain point I must dare say balance of the 3 races (and their hybrids) out-maneuver Starcraft which by most veteran RTS gamers is considered to be the most perfect balance of RTS gameplay in existence...probably because of its simplicity that compliment each of the races. AoE however is not simple. The races introduce very complex and extremely different methods of game play, may it be its combat tactics or its production strategies.
The existence of "favor" for example (a requirement for certain buildings, powers, and units) differ for each race. The Greeks gain favor by worshipping at temples. The benefit is the more worshippers there are, the more favor is generated. The disadvantage is that this effects your population limit. The Egyptians generate favor by creating obelisks. The advantage is that you have a passive flow of favor from each obelisk. The disadvantage is it takes awhile to build. The Norse generate favor only by combat. The advantage is besides wiping out (or being wiped out for that matter) enemy units, generation of favor by the Norse is extremely fast. The disadvantage is of course, you have to fight a lot (and try not to die too much).
That is a simple example of the differences of each race. The Greeks in general are the "default race" found in most RTS games. The Egyptians however have a unique and powerful Pharaoh which helps hasten production and buildings. The Norse have a portable or moveable supply wagon (read=supply depot).
The differences obviously affect unique strategic and tactical approaches during game play. Especially in multi-player.
In the campaign mode, you play Arkanos. Naval commander, protector, and son of Atlantis. Obviously fictional it seems, even from a mythological point of view, but I must admit the story plot leads into very interesting way.
Besides advancing in the game to find out and experience new units and technologies, the story itself is also as addictive. The plot brings you around the world from Greece to Egypt to Scandinavia though what seems to be an underground subway route :p
The BadOnly one thing I've found that is depressing. Unit stances. Not short keys. You actually have to click to set the "aggressive", "defense", etc. stance. Although there is a "global" stance option, I doesn't help much in fast maneuvers though.