One of the biggest announcements coming out of Microsoft's X06 event in Barcelona, Spain, last year was that not only was a Halo-themed real-time strategy game in the works, but also Microsoft's real-time strategy gurus at Ensemble Studios were working on it. Widely heralded as good news, the announcement cast a shadow on the future of Ensemble's current flagship franchise, Age of Empires III, which was slated to receive its first expansion not a month after Microsoft's big reveal of Halo Wars.
However, this May, cause for concern seemed to be for naught, as Microsoft announced that Age of Empires III would expand again with The Asian Dynasties. Heartening still, the publishing giant revealed that development duties would reside with Big Huge Games, better known as the creator of GameSpot's Best PC Strategy Game of 2003, Rise of Nations. Big Huge is now done "playing around in [Ensemble's] sandbox," as Microsoft sends word today that Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties has gone gold and will ship to retail October 23 for Windows Vista and XP PCs.
The Asian Dynasties expands Age of Empires III into the East, introducing the Chinese, Japanese, and Indian civilizations. The newest expansion will also introduce several new gameplay features, including new methods of winning the game and fostering commerce. It will also reintroduce wonders into the Age of Empires series, as well as rework several Asia-based maps from previous Age of Empires games.
Rated T for Teen, Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties retails for $29.99. The expansion requires the original Age of Empires III to play.