Review by aristocracy
"A great expansion to a decent game."
This is Age Of Empires 3, The Asian Dynasties. The second expansion to one of the most well known, best selling, award winning PC series of games of all time. It adds 3 new civilizations, Japan, China and India. It also includes 11 new Asian maps to play on, and three new game modes. King of the Hill, Regicide and Treaty No-Blockade.
The objective of the game is to use your villagers to collect the resources on the map, build certain buildings that will help your economy and create new military units to destroy the opposing enemy civilization (or civilizations, placed somewhere else on the map). In single player and online, you pick a civilization (each with their pros and cons) and start on a map based off of a real location in the world, with absolutely no sight of the rest of the map, except for your current location. You start with a town center (the basis of your economy, that creates new villagers), several villagers (used to build things and gather food, wood, and gold), an explorer (used to uncover the map), and a Native Scout which helps your explorer uncover the map. In order to be able to build some different military units and buildings, you have to "age up" by clicking on the TC and then clicking on a button which, by spending a few resources, allows you to advance to one of the game's 5 next ages after a period of time.
Also, the new Asian Civilizations can each build one of 5 "wonders" when they age up, based off of 15 real pieces of architecture in real life, that grant the players benefits. For instance, The Chinese can build the Summer Palace which autospawns the player's choice of Banner Armies (a small group of soldiers) for free. You can also build a Consulate for the Asian civilizations, which allows you to ally with an European nation in order to spend export, which is gathered slowly over time, for European soldiers and artillery.
Basically, everything, gameplay wise, remains the same (except for the Wonders and the export system). Even the "home city" feature (where, by gathering a certain amount of XP by doing just about everything in the game, you can send military units and resources to your Town Center after a certain period of time).
The new civilizations 9/10
Each one is almost completely unique compared to the other two. For instance, China, instead of making a barracks for their infantry and a stable for their calvary, create a war academy. It combines both, and instead of training each soldier individually, you click a button that groups two kinds of infantry, calvary, or a combination of both together, called "Banner Armies.". Usually 3-2/2-2 split of both. They also cost more.
Single Player Campaign: 8/10
In the single player "campaign" mode, you can play as one of the three new civilizations in 3 different acts, based off of real historical events. For instance, in Japan's act, you play as Sakuma Kichiro (the "adopted son" of Tokugawa Ieyasu) in order to unify Japan. Each act contains 5 battles, each with cinematic cut scenes before and after each battle that advances the story. All three acts, unlike the ones in AOE 3 and AOE 3: The War Chiefs, aren't connected story line wise at all. I found this game's single player campaign to be much more enjoyable, because it was actually based off real life events.
Beautiful. Simply beautiful. Cannon balls roll and careen over infantry. Ships, when firing at each other, can leave holes in each others masts... When you attack a building they light on fire and fall apart, piece by piece. Also, the buildings and the units all look very nice, too. Each of the new civilization's buildings have their own architecture, based off of their architecture in real life. All together though, nothing has really changed.
When you select a unit, they say a word, all in different voices, in their respective language. None of them sound the same. When units fight, you here the clinging and clashes of their weapons, and when they die they yell. When cannons fire there's a loud noise, and when they hit there's a blast. When your ships move in the water you can hear them move against the sea. All the same. Pretty nice, not THAT great, I guess.
You can create a username and a password and log into ESO, or Ensemble Studios online, which matches you up with other players in order to play online. You create a room, select a game mode, choose a map and your civilization, and the number of players. When the other player or players join, you can start the game. You can also join another person's game and play by their rules. It follows the same formulae as single player does, but you're fighting against real flesh and blood. As with any free online game, people are going to be nasty. That's only natural, though. You can also join clans, but I'm not exactly sure what that does.
Rent or buy?
Buy. It's definitely worth the 30 bucks, and there's no point in renting it.
Overall score 8/10
Although by no means perfect, I liked this expansion, at least a bit more than the War Chiefs. Big Huge Games worked really hard on this, and I think it was worth it. Buy it, you might as well have bought the original AOE3 just for this expansion.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/14/07
Game Release: Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties (US, 10/23/07)
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