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Age of Empires III Review

Overview

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Age of Empires III

Age of Empires III

The game series that perfected a genre is back with stunning graphics, a new game engine, and the single and multiplayer game play that has made the series one of the best selling series ever(not to mention highly acclaimed). Age of Empires I & II and Age of Mythology have been on the leading edge of innovation and game play in the RTS genre. With Age of Empires III, Ensemble Studios returns to the familiar AoE timeline and continues the tradition of solid and addicting game play.

Storyline/Game Play

Age of Empires III returns to the timeline that began in the original Age of Empires. The first and second titles took us from the dawn of civilization through the Roman Empire and continued through the Medieval Age and the Age of Kings. With it's intricate detail and robust game play they enthralled many. Age of Empires history moves one more step closer to present day with Age of Empires III by taking you on a journey from the age of discovery through the age of imperialism.

You have the ability to choose one of eight different European powers who seek to colonize and conquer the New World. The civilizations include: The Spanish, British, French, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian, German and Ottoman. There are other civilizations along with native American Indian tribes but they are only used in a mercenary role. Like previous Age of Empires games as you advance through the five different ages, new units, buildings, and upgrades become available to help you in your objectives.

Age of Empires III

Realistic water reflection and waves

The single player game includes both a campaign and skirmish mode. The single player campaign tells a story of three generations (with each generation a separate chapter in the campaign) of the Black family. During this campaign you will travel to multiple continents meeting real life historical figures as you try to solve an international conspiracy. The skirmish mode allows for battles against and with multiple computer opponents with varying terrain and game settings.

The multiplayer game utilizes a similar interface used in Age of Mythology. Called ES Online it can be used for both hosting and joining multiplayer games via the Internet. The multiplayer experience is addicting to say the least and like it's predecessors supports games of up to eight players and two game modes, Deathmatch and Supremacy. The quick search feature lets the server select opponents based on a number of attributes such as rating and the level of your Home City. In addition of being able to play games, the online interface also offers a complete online community, you can also chat, search for clans, trade strategies, tips and secrets as well as a number of other options and features.

As with most RTS games you will need to be very quick with the mouse, the overall game play is very typical of most RTS games and the game interface is robust and performs nicely. At the backbone of your civilization is the villager/worker who is put in charge of not only constructing your colony's buildings but also collecting food, wood and gold. No longer will you're villagers have to make a long trek to a storage facility to drop off resources, in Age of Empires III resources are immediately added to your pool. The game interface does a nice job on keeping you informed. A helpful flag appears in the top left corner when there are idle villagers and similar flags are created for easy selection of military groups. Utilizing the military grouping feature is one key to success. Battles, especially large ones can become very chaotic and sometimes confusing, it's essential that you are able to pick out specific units to move, flank, attack, or defend differently.

With the exceptions of a few elements however, Age of Empires III doesn't break any new ground with game play. The overall premise remains the same, lots of villagers and a good economy will almost always win the game.

Game Features - Home City

Age of Empires III

At night on the frozen tundra

The addition of the Home City is the biggest element that tries to set Age of Empires III apart from the many RTS games. Ensemble Studios has likened the Home City to a character in a Role Playing game, the more experience points your Home City gains the more capabilities it will have. These capabilities give you more flexibility when determining what decks and cards to play for your personal strategy.
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