Review by Cerno
"Great Game Overall"
I have been waiting quite a while for this game ever since I heard about it. Age of Empires 1 was first game I ever played on the PC and when Age of Empires 2 came out I immediately bought it and loved it. I must of spent at least 2 thousand hours on each of those games just because they were so great. When Age of Empires 3 came out, I immediately bought it. I loved it, but there just wasn't quite the love for it as I had for Age of Empires 1 and 2.
The main focus of the game is the gameplay. Age of Empires 3 is a Real Time Strategy just like the past installments were. The gameplay is wonderful by all aspects. It's your basic gather resource and defeat your opponent using rock paper scissors sort of units. There are numerous amounts of units and with all the nations it has it can be quite fun.
A key aspect to Age of Empires 3 is the home cities. Home cities are the cities that your nation came from and when you get enough experience they can send you shipments of items, units, and a whole array of other things to you in order to help you achieve your goal, to defeat the other civilization. Experience can be gathered by doing just about anything such as killing enemy units and gathering resources. This is a wonderous addition to the past games where killing enemy units didn't really seem to help you much except the fact that your enemy now has fewer soldiers. The more experience you get, the more your home city will level up. When your home city levels up you get to add in more available shipments that you can use ingame.
The main playing modes of the game is single player, skirmish mode, and multiplayer.
The single player is based on mythes such as the fountain of youth. There are three stages of the game where you go through the Black Family and its descendants to uncover a secret. Unlike Age of Empires 2, nothing is true here of course. This is one of the flaws. I rather liked the past games due to their historic nature, but I would guess Ensemble Studios couldn't find a campaign that would feature enough nations in it.
The Skirmish mode is just a quick battle. The first time you play you have to choose your nation and set up a home city with what the shipments you want to be sent as you gain experience in game. The more you play with that civilization and home city the more the home city will develop and you can eventually set up just about every shipment there is. There is limited amount of shipments that your home city can give you so there's strategic elements in that especially in multiplayer.
In multiplayer mode you fight against other human players. If the right circumstances are done, you can have you home city level up after a match. Human players are always better than AI as they are much more fun. I got the game when there were serious problems with the servers, but I've since heard that they've been fixed. Due to the limited amount of time I have for playing games I haven't ventured in to play a multiplayer game yet.
Now, the graphics in this game has to be the best there is for a Real Time Strategy game up until now. It is simply great. Unlike past Age of Empires games, when you use a siege weapon to attack ground on a tree, it doesn't just disappear without falling down, now it has an animation with it. One of the best features it using a cannon on enemy troops. Knocking down enemy troops never looked so good as they fall down after inpact and die.
The sounds are quite nice. There's audio for gun shots and good music. Not much can be said here. Surround sound would be best for audio just like any other game out there.
Of course the Age of Empires games are Real Time Strategy games. With the Skirmish mode there's quite a huge amount of fun that can be involved. With the fun multiplayer there's going to be even more. And of course you probably would always want to go back and explore the single player mode on hard after going it on easy the first time and found it as thus. Plus in the future I'm sure there are going to be a plethora of people that are going to make their own scenarios for you to play either good or bad.
Rent or Buy?
Since it's a PC game, of course you would have to buy it. This game is simply one of the best Real Time Strategy games on the market for now. Just like the past Age of Empires games it is wounderous fun and with the multiplayer feature, it will probably keep you occupied for hours and hours.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/23/06
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