Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Genre: Real Time Strategy
Developer: Ensemble Studios
AOE Civilization: European Conquerers
Expansions: The War Chiefs and The Asian Dynasties
USA Release Date: October 18, 2005
Microsoft's Age of Empires series of games has captured the imaginations of millions. The simple and comfortable pace of the game coupled with its engrossing storyline and state-of-the-art graphics (courtesy its new Physics Engine) make this version particularly unforgettable.
The entire game is divided into three acts. Act I (which I'm currently playing) allows the user to dawn the role of Morgan - an English Hero - and fend off and eventually race the Ottomans. For those unsure about how to work the improved game environment, the game offers two tutorials: a Learning Guide that assigns you simple tasks, and Play a Game, that creates a small, realistic but simple version of an actual game.
Act I: Blood focuses on training the player for harder scenarios. It teaches the player how to use resources wisely, how to gather more resources and how to fight on land and water. From fighting Ottomans with an unending supply of army men to stealing maps from a hot female pirate, the game allows the user to travel at their own pace.
The new graphics are great. Of course, you would need an excellent graphics card: an Intel will simply not do. We recommend nVidia. A new Physics engine allows you to actually burst holes through enemy ships, as well as break little chips off of buildings (instead of just seeing smoke come from them). The high seas get even higher, and waves really do look like waves. In addition, you can now see a faint outline of your settler even if he's hiding behind a bush (instead of having to comb the map wondering where your workers have gone to!)
The music is OK, although it could have been a lot better. As for the price... well, since when does Microsoft charge you for just the game?
An engrossing game with a host of new features, AOE 3 promises to keep you on your toes! Now, let me get back on mine...