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Age of Empires III review

October 21st, 2005 by Troy Goodfellow · No Comments · Uncategorized

You can find my complete review over at VGPub here. My first big word of warning is in the second paragraph.

“Familiarity doesn’t quite breed contempt, but is does take away a lot of the excitement. Considering that the game is set in the Age of Discovery, you might expect to see some strange new worlds. Instead, it’s almost as if Columbus sailed the Atlantic and found everything pretty much as he expected.”

I still give AoE 3 a very high score (8.5) because I would be lying if I said I wasn’t having a lot of fun playing it. Like some people, I am alternately bewildered and enthralled by the game, but hours spent are hours spent. AoE 3 has won me over despite all the objective complaints you can raise about its originality, lack of options and even backward trajectory in some respects.

Judging from the chat rooms in these early days though, there could be some trouble with the hardcore crowd. The lack of formations has some people really upset. More than once I’ve seen people type “I’m going back to AoK” – which is just silly since there are at least a dozen better RTS games out there now.

People who love Age of Kings should be happy with AoE 3 in many respects. It has a simple rock-paper-scissors mentality, the factions are mostly the same with some cosmetic differences, you can build town centers wherever you like…this game is a retreat from the brilliant stab at innovation that Age of Mythology was.

But Ensemble has made an excellent game in spite of themselves. The early game has a nice rush to it as you scurry to get the resources necessary to Age-up to a point where you can defend yourself and kill your enemies. Early fortifications are cheap but effective, so you can lag behind just a little bit and still make a go of it.

But the campaign…ouch. I sort of enjoyed the campaign in Age of Mythology. It wandered the globe, gave you a chance to play all the cultures and had a relatively interesting story about a possible revolt against the gods. The AoE 3 one has terrible voice acting, a hokey plot about the Fountain of Youth and it is never really clear why you are playing the British in one scene and the Germans in the next. It is a very long campaign with a few very difficult missions. A couple of times I had to reduce the difficulty to easy just so I could get on with the nonsense. I always wonder what kind of people play these things, but then again, I always play the story campaigns myself.

I recommend Age of Empires III not because it is great but because it is very good. These are masters at work and the game demonstrates just what money and experience can provide.


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