Review by slavemaster
"The gods have finally called out to us...and blessed our faithfulness with a game..."
Age of Mythology...I has a lot to live up to as the next in line for the Age series, and especially Age of Empires II...if you don't believe me that Age of Kings is a great game, go read my review of it...anyway, back on track, Age of Mythology lived up to the hype that it should have gotten...although its not as good as Age of Kings, its still one of the best games I have played in a long time.
The game-play in this game is superb...It even improves a little on Age of Kings standards, but that is because of the fact that the two games are both made by Ensemble Studios, probably my favourite game-making company following Nintendo, and this game was built on Age of Kings, which was built on Age of Empires. The next game, which is Age of Mythology 2, by the way, is going to built on Age of Mythology, so the cycle continues...
Firstly, the armies, like Age of Kings, have formations, which I do not see in most other games, for example, Command and Conquer: Generals. There are pretty much the same formations as Age of Kings, for example, the line formation (standard rows of men) and the box formation (non-combat/siege units to the centre, archers in the middle and cavalry/swordsmen to the outer ring). This really makes the men in the game so much easier to control, rather than them running around in disorder, and as well as this, an army is only as strong as its formation-Sun Tzu (The Art of War), so, in saying this, it is a lot easier to attack, defend, escort etc. in a formation, rather than an unorganised mob that runs around at different speeds.
Secondly, the hot-key system was amazing...absolutely amazing...well, I liked it a lot. By using the keyboard by itself, you are able to manipulate nearly all aspects of the game, like most other real-time strategies, but it seems more real in this game. You are also able to change them at will in the options, so as to suit your needs. You could put them in neat rows, or have them correspond to the letters they start with....all kinds of things like this. By effectively using hot-keys, you can effectively double, or even triple the amount of time that you need to do things in the game-the only thing you really can't do is move things around...everything else can be done via the keyboard.
Thirdly, the manoeuvring of armies has never been easier, using things like way-points and the such...making your soldiers go into stances (eg aggressive-attacks on sight, defensive-attacks on sight but pulls back when it has followed too far etc), of which was originally in Age of Empires II...make them do things (guard-follow a unit and guard it, patrol-patrols a given area etc), again of which was in Age of Empires II. This can make the game again easier to play, giving your units personalities and jobs to do, rather than you giving them their every order.
New to the series are gods and god powers...they are the unique aspect to this game, they are in no other. There are three civilisations, all of which have three main gods. This makes a total of nine choices. Now, in the game, every time you advance an age, you will be given the choice to choose between two gods, the selection unique to the major god that you chose. This gives a total, after you are in the mythic age, (I think) 72 different choices. This makes the game easily the most diverse real-time strategy game on the market.
But what is different for all of these diversities, I don't hear you ask. I will tell you anyway. For the major gods, they will, like Age of Empires 2's civilisations, give you different advantages and bonuses towards your civilisation for starters. They will then give you a technology that benefits your civilisation, and, finally, they will give you a god power, of which I will explain later. As well as this, they will have a unique choice of minor gods for you to choose from each time you advance an age.
The minor gods are not as important as the major gods, but still hold their ground as being useful. They will give you a few technologies to help your civilisation, another god power to add to your collection, and once again, a new type of unit called (wouldn't you know it) a myth unit, of which will be more explained below. The technologies usually benefit one kind of unit, although there are some that benefit a wide range of things.
God powers. The power of the gods is a powerful thing that shouldn't be trifled with. That's why you should use them. There are a whole range of god powers, from economic ones, such as dwarven mine (free gold mine anywhere on the map), to defensive ones, such as sentinel (four archers surrounding a town centre), to highly offensive ones like a tornado or earthquake (self explanatory). Using these you can turn the tide of battle quite easily, and fight to live another day...and another battle. God powers really do give this game loads of added depth that is a must in almost all games of this genre.
Now to add yet another piece of information for this excellent game. In this game, unlike Age of Empires II, has more than just infantry, cavalry and archers-it has two new kinds of units to the series-Myth units (as stated earlier) and heroes. With each different god you get a myth unit (or two with some gods-one even has three!). Each myth unit has a unique ability-for example, some recover health while others have special attacks that they use. In general, myth units are used to kill off human units-i.e. infantry, cavalry and archers. This is why the heroes were introduced into the game. Their primary function is to eliminate myth units, but then they are weak against human units. This really makes the game more enjoyable than earlier versions, introducing two new kinds of units into the fray. Too bad they sacrificed the unique unit system...
Now, all of these games in the Age series have lacked absolute power in their AI. In this game it's the same-the titan difficulty, although I can't beat it, most hardcore gamers can. But, in this game, there is a cheat, easily accessible from the cheats page for this game that gives the computer godly AI...something I see as quite impossible to defeat. Well done to Ensemble Studios for this overpowered AI cheat. This gives a goal to strive for...to kill the godly AI...
All in all, I think I've mentioned about a third of the games qualities, but I do not have unlimited time, so I can not go on with the rest. Read other reviews to try and find more. With all that done, I give it a 9/10, only because there is a glitch or two in there that I know, I just can't remember...
By including the campaign in this, it gets a full on 10/10, as I will now explain.
Firstly, the story is good. It incorporates loads of things that actually existed in the three cultures (if you don't know are Greek, Egyptian and Norse), nothing of which I can go into much detail with, because of spoilers, and the story doesn't unfold properly until about halfway through. It starts off as you following the hero, Arkantos in search of a minotaur that stole a trident, although it gets better as you go through the campaign.
Secondly, the campaign is a whopping...wait for it...32 SCENARIOS LONG! That is amazing, for me at least. It is the longest campaign I've done in a long time, and also one of the best planned out ones. Completely amazing, in my point of view.
Finally, if you go to Ensemble Studios website, you can find a whole range of sights with multiple campaigns, scenarios, random maps, mods...the list just keeps on going.
So I give it a 12/10...wait a second...I can only give it a ten?!?! Oh well, although it deserves more, a 10/10 will have to do for now...
Sound Music 9/10
The sound in this game isn't too shabby...wait, I'm meant to be talking about music. The music in this game is bloody awesome! Whoever did it is an absolute genius! I listen to this music regularly, and I've had this game for 1 1/2 years...that's how good it is. As well as this, it also changes to battle music when you attack important buildings and the such. I, although it is impossible, give this an 11/10, because it deserves it...really it does...
The sound isn't too bad, but is pretty average when compared with Age of Empires II. I really thought that Ensemble studios could bring it up to a higher standard. The voice acting is good, though, and in general it isn't bad...it just failed to live up to my expectations, so it gets a 7/10 from me, dropping the score above to a nice 9/10.
Now, I must say this is the only part of the game that properly slipped. I n my opinion, the games graphics are sloppy...very sloppy...but not so much that it is a bad game. It is one of the earliest 3D real-time strategy games, after all. There is not much to say here, except that they aren't really all that good. A 7/10 seems appropriate here.
Another ten...and not without good reason, too, as shown below...
The play-time in this game is amazing...it takes many hours to finis the campaign, and then even more spent playing the random map mode. Even more enjoyment can be made out of the map editor mode, one of the best around, might I add. There is just so much to do through the first play through it's not funny...you can never really finish it...
The re-playability is also great in this game. It's really the same as the first play through-you can't really finish it. Some episodes of the campaign are always fun to do again, and I've gone through the whole thing three times at progressively higher difficulty levels. There is also a wide range of campaigns, scenarios-even more random maps. There is always something new that people have made and you can download-for free, of course.
This is why this section was deserving of a 10/10.
Buy or Rent?
If you like the Age series BUY, BUY, BUY! If you like real-time strategy games BUY, BUY, BUY! If you like video games in general BUY, BUY, BUY! If you are not any of the above kind of people, what on earth are you doing on a game oriented sight? With that aside, if you have a semi-decent PC, BUY, BUY, BUY anyway. To top things off, you should buy it in the jumbo pack along with Age of Mythology: The Titans for a fun filled experience.
Besides all that, if you still haven't got the message, it is here in black and blue: BUY, BUY, BUY!
Final Say 9/10 (that is an exact average, believe it or not)
Wow. What a game this is, and it's quite the sight to behold. Just play it for a few hours to see what I mean. For those who have not gotten my hidden message in the review, this is one of the BEST.GAMES.EVER. as GameFAQS people would say. All-in-all, a great game that is a must on everyone's disk rack.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 07/09/04
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