One big step in the wrong direction

User Rating: 6 | Age of Empires III PC
By now you should have been pretty much aware of AOE3s main attraction, which is the improved graphics combined with an all new physics engine.

If your system can take it, expect the game to look pretty shiny in every aspect. I really like the attention to details, like birds flying in flocks and the waves rolling toward the shores.

However, the new level of details is not all joy. I found the graphics to be quite messy in places, not clean and pure like their previous game Age of Mythology. Lots of noisy details can be distracting, and makes the game less pleasing for the eye in a way. Having the grass full of multicolored leaves is quite realistic for example, but just looks kind of messed up.

The biggest lowdown is the audio. Normally I do not care so much about sound, but It is really very disappointing. First of all it is quite bugged on my system, so the sounds are delayed and does not follow the camera properly. But even worse are the choice of sounds. The Alert sound is particularily annoying, and the repetetive comments from the units as you click on them is also quite lame for a game with this level of polishing in other areas.

I would say the sound has dramatically lowered in quality and taste since Age of Mythology.

One of the much talked about aspects of the game is the home town. Your home town can basicallly send supplies to you, based on what level your current city has reached, and how many experience points you gained so far. So, for example after you killed a few enemies, you might have gained anough experience to have the home town ship you a crate of gold.

There are lots of different items that can be shipped from the home town, ranging from simple supplies like food or wood, to more complex things like forts or increased abilities. You can manage what kind of supplies you can have access to before playing each level, which is kind of a game in the game.

A good idea, but sadly does not really add much. It can in a way be compared to the God powers in Age of Mythology, except you have many more but less powerful upgrades. I enjoyed the more powerful but less options approach far more though, as a vast amount of small supplies just gives a pretty insignificant impact.

Unlike all the other games in the series, this one seems pretty unbalanced in comparison. For example, if you spend time to discover the map, you might find some bonus supplies. You usually have to kill some guardians, like wolves or pirates, to get to them. But, too often these rewards are just minimal and a total waste of time compared to spending your time gaining resources and building units in the normal way.

Again, I liked Age of Mythology's relics system much more. Fewer, but relatively powerful relics could be collected and stored for a permanent bonus. Making it worthwile to spend time discovering the map.

The artificial intelligence seems ok, but I found no surprises here compared to other games in the same genre. Nothing more, nothing less.

When it comes to the story mode, I found it pretty boring and uninspiring. I watched the first few story sequences, then just clicked through them. It's like poorly directed soap operas at the best. They might be historically accurate for all I know, but who cares? We want some action and excitement...

I have not yet completed the game, it is in fact just a bit boring. I found it nowhere near as entertaining as Age of Mythology. In fact, I booted up that old game again just now to see if I was really judging AOE3 unfair, and I found myself hooked on Age of Mythology instantly again. It was in fact more interesting to replay that game than the new one I just got.

Sad really, I had high hopes for this one, but under the nice wrapping there is a pretty disappointing game that in no way lives up to their previous titles.