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Age Of Empires 3
Information about Age Of Empires 3The 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 PlayAge 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.
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 CityAt night on the frozen tundraThe 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.
Each Home City has what is called a deck that begins with 15 cards and can be expanded to a maximum size of 20. These cards are used from the Home City screen to send troops, supplies, or improvements to your colony in times of need. Cards can only be played after a certain amount of experience points are earned. You will notice small numbers float above buildings when they are completed or whendiscoveries are made. These are experience points. The end game summary will tally all of your earned XP points and then calculate if your city has gained enought for an increase in level. Determining which cards to play is based and limited by the current Age your colony is in. For example, in the Discovery Age one card may have the ability to send 300 units of food from your HC to your colony while in the Colonial Age it there may be a card that send 600 units.
The concept of the Home City is a great addition and gives some extra incentive and objectives in playing. Not all is lost in a defeat if you can still muster some experience out of it to increase your Home City's level. Higher level cities yield a wider variety of cards that can be placed into your deck for future games and different strategies.
Graphics and AITroops marching off to battleEnsemble Studios developed a brand new graphics and physics engine for Age of Empires III and the result looks very impressive. The color, shading, and detail are very nice and add a realistic feel when you're watching troops Mar. into battle. The reflective nature of water, the crest of waves look fantastic in pitched naval battles. The graphics engine is rendered fully in 3D so those older graphics cards may have some trouble displaying everything smoothly even at lower graphics settings.
The in-game physics involved with explosions and warfare are excellent. Cannon and musket fire leave faint smoke trails that fades to the ground after firing. No two explosions seem to be the same, instead of seeing the same flash of fire over and over again that can be in a lot of other games, Age III physics let you literally tear a building apart. Portions of buildings will collapse under intense bombardment, and pieces of the structure fly through the air and fall to the ground with every impact.
During game play, the AI for your civilization is somewhat improved over Age of Empires II, but still has a few holes. For instance, villagers will chop down one tree after another with in a group, but after the small area has been cleared they will just end up standing around waiting for orders. The same scenario occurs with miners and hunters. It would be nice to have a feature that looks at your current resource pool to determine what resources are in most need or those needed to advance to the next age, then send idle villagers off to perform those tasks. The military AI also leaves something to be desired, the units do fall into marching order but mixing groups of units will have your horses waiting for your artillery moving at the slowest speed. This is where the military grouping mentioned previous comes in handy, assign the groups by unit speed instead of mixing infantry, artillery and cavalry together.
Settlement on the shores of a tranquil waterway. The single player modes contain 5 difficulty levels from Sandbox to Expert. The Expert setting is sometimes too hard for even the best players while the Sandbox setting too easy for the worst players. It will take a few tries to figure out which one equals your ability, but all are good for practice before venturing online for multiplayer games. The friendly AI in single player skirmishes is improved over previous titles. Allies will send in troops and reinforcements quicker when you're either attacking or being attacked.
Bottom LineUnlike it's predecessors, Age of Empires III does not break any new ground in the RTS genre and in terms of game play it is very similar to Age of Empires II. Those looking for some earth shattering new feature unfortunately won't find it. Yes, the addition of the Home City adds a new flare but it doesn't set the game apart in the RTS genre. This RPG style element has been done in many other RTS games. With that said Age of Empires III is still a very fine game. To the delight of existing Age of Empires fans the detailed graphics are combined with enough new features to make game play more fun and addicting than ever and is sure to Usher (4 walls) in a whole new set fans.
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