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Asian Dynasties Review

December 6th, 2007 by Troy Goodfellow · 2 Comments · Big Huge Games, Ensemble, Gameshark, Review, RTS

My review of Age of Empires III: Asian Dynasties can be found on Gameshark. Better late than never.

The long and short of it is that the Asian nations are very powerful. Their explorers are better so they can get the early treasures faster. They age up with wonders, some of which have special powers, like the instant healing temple or the super fort.

They are also very colorful. Indian swamis riding elephants, Mongol horsemen, cannons on elephants, samurais, sharp pokey things on elephants. All the time spent on unit and building design was well worth it.

But it’s not as good as Warchiefs was.

As I wrestle with 2007 – The Year of The Expansion, I realize that the ghost of Warchiefs now hangs over how I look at expansions. It used to be good enough to get a new race, some new maps and maybe some interface changes. But Warchiefs (and Rise of Nations: Thrones and Patriots before that and the Civ IV expansions most recently) have primed me to expect more twists from an expansion, something that alters how you see and play the game.

Asian Dynasties doesn’t quite do that. As I note in the review, it almost sits beside the core game – totally different rules and unique options for a quarter of the nations. It replaces as much as it expands, but doesn’t really force you to make new calculations if you are playing one of the older powers. It’s a good expansion – very good – but where Warchiefs made me think of new ways for Russia to play, since I could be facing both a standard European power and the freaky Aztec army, Asian Dynasties just pokes the “cool stuff” button.


2 Comments so far ↓

  • Dave Long

    You know, with all the games over the last three or four months of 2007, I haven’t even considered picking this up… and I’m a fan of the Age games!

    This year more than any in recent memory there have just been too many games. On the other hand, sales are up across the board so someone’s buying all this stuff. Who has the time to play it all?

  • Natus

    Great review, Troy! I think your concerns and your praise were both well put. This was for me the best: “though there were clearly limitations on how far the usually innovative developers could push the envelope in someone else’s playground.” Totally agree, and I wonder, what *could* they have done?

    But I think I really missed the boat with vanilla AoE3, as I’ve said before. Since neither expansion pack makes running the economy or fighting battles any easier, my interest has really waned. I made somewhat of a similar argument on BGG about GMT’s Pax Romana wargame, which was a great game but way too needlessly wargamey and complex in this day and age. Same applies here; way too much micro when other RTS titles have done without and thrived.

    And your description of the consolate made me a bit wistful for what could indeed have been really cool in-game: European allies of Asian powers. But since most games are so fast, and all powers can recruit truly zany, foreign, and colorful units, when are you truly going to observe your opponent’s troops and say, “Aha! He threw in with the French! Therefore, I’ll have to….” ? As W.S. Gilbert wrote in The Gondoliers,”When everyone is somebodee, then no one’s anybodee.” So is it a missed opportunity, or am I just being grouchy?

    Or pining for a RoL expansion? ;)