Review by tobymac

"Ensemble comes through again with the best RTS since Age of Conquerors."

Gameplay: 9/10 Incredibly fine-tuned, it is obvious ES spent a long time refining it. But its an unspoken law that no RTS ever gets a 10, even if it deserves it.

Graphics: 9/10 Best I¡¦ve seen on an RTS. Some people have complained that the units detail is slightly below WC3¡¦s level, but AOM has at least five times as many units to make up for it.

Sound 10/10 The music score is an incredible display of each cultures taste in music. The sound is high quality and the music itself is moving. The things the units say are in their own native language; I was talking to a Greek person on GameFAQs who translated for me.

Value: 10/10 You could play five hours a day for six months and still not have done everything.

Reviewer¡¦s Tilt: 9/10 ESO, the multiplayer setup, is total ****, so I can¡¦t give the tilt a 10.

Overall 93.5 „³ 94% The best RTS since AOC.

¡§Less talking, more smiting¡¨

A number of High profile games have come out in the last year. Westwood releases Yuri¡¦s Revenge, Blizzard wows the market with Warcraft III, and Sierra puts out Empire Earth. Everybody is wondering if Ensemble Studios¡¦ answer would be a worthy game to come out in such a time. As always, Ensemble fails to disappoint. Age of Mythology is one of the most unique games out there, second only to Warcraft III, and as anyone who has played it will say, its better. *puts on anti-flame suit* Yes I said better. Because while AOM keeps the incredible depth of the Age of Empires games, it also caters to fans of Warcraft III with its fast-paced gameplay, unique mythological units, ad outstanding storyline. Below is WorldWideGameNet¡¦s exclusive review of one of the best RTS¡¦s out there.

You ask any Age of Conquerors player about this game and the first thing they will say is, ¡§Did ES ruin the depth?¡¨ The answer, thankfully, is no. The are the huge number of units, the many technologies to advance them, the outstanding random maps, etc. One thing I heard said on GameFAQs is, ¡§Warcraft III is like rock-paper-scissors. AOM is like rock-paper-scissors-hammer-pliers-etc.¡¨ With this I thoroughly agree. The basic rock-paper-scissors is normal units-heroes-myth units. Human units are cheapest and the core of your army. Myth units are more expensive and much stronger. Heroes have an 8x-damage bonus against myth units. With each of these categories are many different types of units that counter each other. E.g. Cavalry counter archers count infantry counter cavalry, with many different subsets here such as anti-infantry infantry.

The normal units in AOM closely resemble those in AOC. Each culture (Egyptian, Norse, and Greek) has their own unique set of normal units, as is the case with everything else about AOM. The Greeks are the closest to AOC, the Norse are the farthest. Archers are more powerful in AOM than in AOK. In fact, the Greek¡¦s toxotes resemble AOC¡¦s Longbowmen more than Arbelists (to David: sp?). While there are three different cultures, there are three different ¡§Major Gods¡¨ for each culture. The different ¡§Major Gods¡¨ are AOM¡¦s equivalent of civilizations, while the cultures are far more diverse. Each major God can also choose between two ¡§Minor Gods¡¨ each age advancement (see our Age of Kings (add hyperlink) review for more information on age advancements). The Major gods with their choice of minor Gods each focus on a certain aspect, from cavalry (Poseidon) to myth units (Loki) to economy (Ra).

Each culture has their own unique heroes. The Norse have a basic infantry units called the Hersir. The Greeks have 4 different land heroes and one sea hero that they can only have one of each. The Egyptians have a pharaoh, which they can only have one of, and priests. A pharaoh can pick up relics and make buildings work faster, as well as healing units, and a priest can create obelisks (scouting towers) and heal units. They are each weak units except when fighting myth units. In addition to being stronger against myth units, heroes are typically stronger overall than regular units and can pick up relics. Instead of slowly giving you gold, relics each have a unique bonus that benefits you.

Myth units a unique aspect of AOM. They are expensive, about 3x as much as the typical normal units, as well as costing favor. Favor is a new recourse used for mythological units and technologies. There is a limit of 100 favor at a time, except for Zeus, whose limit is 200, and each culture gathers it in a different way. The Greeks probably have it best, as they merely need to send villagers to pray at a temple to gain favor. Egyptians don¡¦t have much trouble either, as they build monuments to gain favor. The Norse have much more trouble getting favor except for the experienced Norse player. They get favor as they fight, as not all that fast then either. Nevertheless they have, in my opinion, the most impressive myth units in the game. The fire giant, which all Norse Major Gods can train, can take pretty much any myth unit one on one, even a Colossus. But I could go on for hours about the different myth units, so let me move on.

I think I should probably inform you of the aspects of the different cultures in general. The Greeks resemble a typical AOK civilization. They build normally, gain resources normally, and don¡¦t have any weird economical traits. The Egyptians are interesting. While they only build about half as fast as other cultures, most of their buildings are free. And none of the ones you do pay for cost any wood, just gold. Egyptians are also the only race that can build farm in the Archaic (first) Age. Although they cost 75 gold (Norse and Greek farms cost 75 wood), this can be a nice advantage on maps low on food. The Norse have 3 special economic traits. One is that their gatherers cannot build. Instead, all of their infantry units have that capability. The second is that they can train a unit called dwarf. It is almost twice as fast at gold mining and costs 70 gold. The third is that instead of having to build drop off points, they train ox-carts for a cheap 25 wood and 25 food. These act as mobile drop off points. In general, the Greeks are all-around, the Egyptians are defensive, and the Norse are rushing-based.

One huge improvement with AOM is the campaign, which is on par with WC3¡¦s (Wow- ED). It consists of 32 missions consisting of the story of Arkantos, an Atlanean General, as he manages to become entangled in the Trojan War and other event, for the sake of entertaining you! This guy is amazing! Seriously though, the campaign is amazing with a great story and missions. ES seamlessly lets you play as all three culture over the course of the campaign, and its very fun. I don¡¦t want to give away any spoilers, but I just have to mentions one mission in which you travel through Hades underworld. It plays a lot like an RPG; reminiscent of RPG¡¦s for WC3. But that¡¦s all I can say without spoilers.

Random maps in AOM are phenomenal. The maps types you can choose from are numerous, specific, and diverse. And of course unlike WC3 AOM did not *cough*STUPIDLY*cough* leave out the option to change the computer¡¦s difficulty. You can even choose whether the computer player is balanced, an aggressive rusher, or a ¡§Big Boomer¡¨. Although they are a joy, Ensemble Studios Online, the multiplayer setup, is not. Its buggy, often won¡¦t connect, and has a messed up rating system. Games with any non-random settings or computer players are not rated. Is ESO is fixed in a patch, however, it could almost be up to par with Blizzard¡¦s BattleNet. Almost.

All in all AOM is another outstanding RTS from ES that no one who appreciates strategic depth should be without. It my Editors Choice pick for this year.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/21/02, Updated 11/21/02


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