Age of Empires III

aka: Age of Empires 3, AoE III, AoE3, Rocket
Moby ID: 20055
Windows Specs

Description official descriptions

Age of Empires III is the third installment in the series of real-time strategy games. The main idea of the gameplay remains unchanged: with the limited amount of resources and a handful of settlers, you must think about the expansion of your colony. Besides the strong economic thread, you should also think about the development of your army. Like in the previous games your people start in an early part of humanity's history and progress to new ages (up to the industrial age) with better weapons and other possibilities.

The game offers you a complex single-player campaign that is divided into 24 missions and three acts. You take the role of Morgan Black and his family which struggle against a mysterious European cult. You can also challenge yourself in the multiplayer mode where you can command one of the eight European powers (from French to Russian). A new addition to the game mechanics is the home city in Europe which regularly sends supplies or military reinforcements. It is persistent and after multiplayer successes you gain the ability to upgrade it through a tech tree.


  • 世紀帝國3 - Traditional Chinese spelling
  • 帝国时代III - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

239 People (212 developers, 27 thanks) · View all

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[ full credits ]



Average score: 83% (based on 92 ratings)


Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 88 ratings with 5 reviews)

The best RTS since WarCraft II

The Good
The graphics are colorful and varied, animations uniformly excellent, sound effects wonderful -- especially the female German villagers, and the cannons firing in quick succession. Multiplayer is really where this game shines.

The gameplay is extremely well-crafted and well-balanced. There's eight different nations, from the English, who breed like rabbits, to the Dutch, who accumulate vast wealth thanks to their bankers. All the nations are distinct from one another, and there's all sorts of play styles for different personalities. The Russians are for unpredictable wildcats, the Ottomans are for those who prefer blitzkrieg, and the Germans allow you to hire great numbers of powerful mercenaries. Of course if you want to hire ronin (masterless samurai) you'll have to go with Portugal.

One last thing: AoE3 uses the Havok physics middleware package, so when you blast apart a windmill you'll see individual beams of wood go flying. This also applies to humans: fire at a crowd of pikemen, and they'll be airbound in a no time. It's a very nice touch to this already spectacular game.

The Bad
Single-player's only really value is to prepare you for multiplayer, and it doesn't do a very good job at that. Anyone who takes this game semi-seriously will make mincemeat out of you if your only experience is against the computer.

The storyline is instantly forgettable, but no worries, the developers surely developed this game with one thing in mind: massive multiplayer matches.

The Bottom Line
Pretty well a flawless game. Fortunately for me, I didn't waste my time on the previous installments of the Age of Empire series, nor any RTS since Warcraft 2, so when people tell you that AoE3 adds nothing new to the genre, they are both lying (Home Cities, for example) and suffering myopia from being too close to the genre. If you haven't played an RTS this is where you begin.

Windows · by Chris Wright (85) · 2007

A good game, but not a worthy successor

The Good
By playing AOE3, one can easily tell (if they didn't already know) that this isn't Ensemble Studios' first game. No, this title bears the mark of experienced game design peppered with tiny improvements over the previous titles in the way of presentations.

I welcome the improvement in graphics (looking at AOE2 now almost looks DOS like in graphical quality) and sound, and to my personal tastes, I appreciate the time frame that AOE3 takes place during. Instead of catapults we have cannons. Factories can crank out canned goods to supplement your food supply, and the difference in nations' abilities is enough to allow for entirely different strategical and tactical approaches as they are quite varied in their individual strengths and weaknesses.

But perhaps the biggest improvement is the notion of home cities and customized decks of cards. As you play through the game with your profile (I have not bothered with the campaign, I only play multiplayer games on LAN), you earn experience for things like number of kills, resources gathered, and the like. These experience points go towards earning your home city "levels" which can then be used to purchase cards to build a deck with.

These "cards" allow your civilization to have special abilities. For example, in game you could play a card that gives you an extra 600 food. Another card gives you say, two cannons for free. There are all sorts of cards, and you can have up to 20 in your deck. However, as you progress you will be able to choose from more than just 20, so the player must choose carefully which cards they will take with them to a game, and which to leave behind. This allows for extra fine tuning in play styles. Coupled with the civilization differences, various players can have an entirely different approach to gameplay here. Good stuff.

As your city gains levels, you'll be able to customize its features. In the main menu screen, one can see their city while people walk around in it at real time. As levels are gained, your city grows and you are able to add new features like adding decorations, people, idols, and the like (if you play England you can add Jack the Ripper and he wanders around with a knife). These additions are purely visual and have no part in the gameplay, but it's still fun as it gives some incentive to level up your city and play more.

The environment seems a little more alive here as well. There are Native Americans which are neutral at the start of the game, and by building tradeposts nearby it's possible to get access to their technologies and warriors. Animals of all types roam the landscape, each with their own relevant amount of meat to feed your population. Buildings have shingles and chunks fly off of them when hit by cannons. A mortar round from a Monitor ship will send a villager sliding across the ground, their lifeless body hitting rocks and such along the way. Trade carts have been replaced by stagecoaches and steam locomotives that ride on rails sprawling through the map delivering supplies. The world is just much more alive here than in AOE2.

Furthermore, I appreciate that the resources now consist of simply food, wood, and coin. What's more is that there are different ways to produce all three types of resources. You can hunt, farm, and/or mill for food (among other things). Coin can be gained through mining, plantations, whaling, and other endeavors. Wood must be chopped down from trees by hand, but you can supplement your supply by having it delivered in tradeposts or produced from a factory.

AI is pretty decent. If you're producing lots of cannons they'll marginalize infantry and produce other types of units. In other words, the AI will adjust unit types throughout the game depending on the challenges you face them with.

The Bad
Unfortunately, there are some giant steps backwards with this title when compared to previous installments of the series.

For one, there are NO wonders. None at all. No wonder victory, no special abilities from wonders, nothing of the sort. Why?! I feel like this is intentional. I mean, AOE and AOE2 had wonders from the start, but with AOE3 they don't exist. Well, the Asian Dynasty expansion released in October of 2007 has them. I feel like the designers intentionally left them out so that they could sell an expansion pack with them later on. The practice of strip mining this franchise is starting to interfere with game development, and it shows.

Another step backwards is that there is really only one game type; kill your enemies. You have supremacy where you have to focus on building up your empire along with defeating your enemy, and you have deathmatch that just has you crank out units to throw at your enemy. There is no regicide, wonder victory, idol victory, timed game, or anything else. Again, they have lowered the number of features in the game. This is a huge let down for me as I play LAN games daily with AOE, and I find it disgusting that a newer installment is sporting fewer features.

In addition to that, the map options for multiplayer are pathetic. They've gone mostly from map types, to map styles. Teams islands are gone, replaced mostly by Amazonia that has a giant river separating teams. Furthermore, you can't play with two players on a four player map, four players on a six player map, etc. If you have four players, you MUST play on a four player sized map. The game will not start if you have open spots (which by the way cannot be closed in the drop down window as a player must join or a computer opponent must be added), so if you like doing a 1v1 on a giant sized map, forget it.

This game also fails to offer up options that many other RTS titles have already done. It's not possible to vary the difficulty with more than one AI opponent. For example, say you have 3v3 against the computer. You can't have say, two expert opponents and one medium. They're either all easy, moderate, expert, etc.

Combat is too much like rock/paper/scissors. Cannons are good against infantry, calvary against cannons, pikemen against calvary... it just seems old hat at this point to make a combat model based on this concept. Furthermore, there are some pointless units. For example, what is the difference between an anti-infantry cannon and an anti-artillery cannon? Why should an anti-infantry cannon be terrible at taking out another cannon, especially in reality during this time frame the way you take out an enemy cannon is by killing the infantry operating it, not by focusing on destroying the hardware itself?

Other little annoyances are present as well, like villagers that remain idle after having built a structure. Take a villager off of resource gathering to build a house, and once the house is done they just stand there. They do not go back to resource gathering as in the previous installment. I also don't appreciate that this game runs like shit on a LAN. There is no excuse for it. One player games do just fine. On a LAN, it's choppy as hell. This shouldn't be the case with a 5200 x2 with 8600GT in SLI and 2GB RAM. I don't have problems with performance issues on any other LAN games, and this one is fine in single player, so I blame the coders here.

The Bottom Line
Had this game been released as a standalone title with a new name, it might be a smash hit. But by passing it off as an AOE installment leaves me a bitter taste. I also don't appreciate the fact that important features were intentionally left out just so they could be included in an expansion for more money. I'll pay top dollar for a good game, but I don't like attempts to manipulate the product to get to my wallet. I will not be buying any of the expansions on principle alone.

Windows · by D Michael (221) · 2007

Nothing new under the sun

The Good
It's almost identical to Age of Empires II, which should be something good, because that was a great game.

Nice gameplay, very nice graphics, nice music.

The Bad
It's almost identical to Age of Empires II, which is really sad, because the game feels like an expansion pack.

Same gameplay, same mechanics, same music.

The Bottom Line
The third edition of Age of Empires sticks religiously to its winning formula, in detriment of creativity and innovation.

There's a common phenomenon taking place these days, regarding the creative path game developers are supposed to follow ... or not follow at all.

The first example of how a mercantilistic approach, biased and conditioned by marketing charts and sales numbers can put the entire game industry at a stall is Half-Life 2. After seven years of long wait, Gordon Freeman came back to defend his crown in the sequel to the "best videogame ever" with nothing more than ... better graphics. Not an ounce of creativity, not a twist in the plot, not even new weapons. Absolutely nothing but state of the art rendering and lightning. What was the result? A lenient, inaccurate and deceptive battery of reviews, serving buyers a mediocre game in a silver platter.

The second example packs a number of titles, including the the latest of the NBA Live series, Football Manager series, Battlefield 2, The Sims 2, Unreal Tournament, etc. The common denominator? Better graphics as the main and only added value. The result? Great sales at the expense of creative stagnation.

Not every game should "reinvent itself" each and every year, but most of these games seem nothing like very good graphical patches for the prior version. That's all. The code remains almost intact, ideas are still nowhere to be found and innovation is just "commercially too risky".

Many of these games i speak of wouldn't even be on the map if it wasn't because someone took a little leap of faith and tried something more or less new. Now that they're in the comfort zone ... why fix it if it keeps selling well?

Expect nothing else from Age of Empires III that you haven't seen in Age of Empires II. I commend the people who worked on those very nice graphics, but i'm utterly disappointed at the rest of the people at Ensemble Studios for delivering nothing more than a campaign patch, with some new levels to play.

After SIX years, one would have expected a little more than just revamped new levels.

Windows · by Sebastian Cardoso (48) · 2007

[ View all 5 player reviews ]



Age of Empires III uses a modified version of the Age of Mythology engine.

Physics engine

The Windows version uses the Havok physics engine. Few modern Mac titles use it because of its licensing fee. MacSoft gutted Havok from the game and substituted it with a significantly less expensive technology called PhysX, developed by AGEIA for its Mac port.


  • GameSpy
    • 2005 – #5 PC Game of the Year
    • 2005 – PC RTS of the Year
    • 2005 – Best Graphics of the Year (PC)
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • 2006 - Best PC Strategy Game in 2005 (Readers' Voting)
  • Golden Joystick Awards
    • 2006 - Online Game of the Year
  • PC Powerplay (Germany)
    • Issue 04/2006 - #1 Strategy Game in 2005 (Readers' Vote)
    • Issue 02/2006 - #3 Strategy Game in 2005
  • Puget Sound Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication
    • Early January 2007 - Distinguished Award for Technical Writing and Editing (for the manual and quick reference card)

Information also contributed by Scaryfun and Sciere.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by UV.

Macintosh added by Jeanne.

Additional contributors: Unicorn Lynx, Jeanne, Corn Popper, Silverblade, Maw, Abi79, Zeppin, Litude, Paulus18950, Patrick Bregger, piltdown_man, Flapco.

Game added November 16th, 2005. Last modified November 11th, 2023.