Age of Mythology looks like yet another exploitation of mythology, but turns out to be figurative manna from the gods.

User Rating: 9 | Age of Mythology PC

After having plumbed the ages of humanity from the Stone Age to the Industrial Age, it would appear that Ensemble Studios had run out of ideas for its next real-time strategy game and, under Microsoft Games's direction, turned its eye to a slightly more dubious source of inspiration: mythology, and its myriad of fantastical beasts and heroes.

Considering how Ensemble managed to portray otherwise historically real ancient warriors as just another set of RTS units in its Age of Empires games, it would be understandable if fans of mythical lore had some trepidation with Age of Mythology. However, this game would show them that Ensemble Studios had certainly learned many things since Age of Empires II, and might have even benefited, skills-wise, from its acquisition by Microsoft.

(It has to be noted here that Ensemble Studios no longer exist, having been disbanded in 2009 by Microsoft Games Studios after the latter had lost interest in the real-time strategy genre.)

Age of Mythology is still undeniably an exploitation of mythological works, but it is certainly not another run-of-the-mill real-time strategy game that has players grinding economies in order to grind out armies in turn to grind enemies with.

Instead, it features gameplay mechanics that are refreshingly different from those in a typical RTS game. Granted, the core designs of these mechanics are not completely new to the strategy genre, but they come together so well in Age of Mythology such that it can be safe to say that this is the most innovative product that Ensemble Studios had ever made thus far.

The game's premise is an alternate version of our world, in which the fabled locations that had been mentioned in literature and artworks of mythology are real and are sacred sites of divine importance. Fantastical creatures also exist alongside mortals like humans - or at least when the gods will it so that the mortals shall receive aid - or retribution - from them.

The intro movie will portray this premise all too well, and it also sets up the stage for the story campaign.

The main menu's backdrop is powered by the game engine, which is likely an attempt to show the player that Ensemble Studios had finally migrated to 3D graphics. However, the scenes chosen are rather serene, which do not do a good job of foretelling about the battles that the player will be involved in.

Of course, it will take more than pizzazz to convince a skeptical veteran of Age of Empires games that Ensemble Studios had actually improved its skills. The game's tutorial mode, or at least the latter parts of this, will show that Ensemble Studios had crafted mechanics that while are reminiscent of the Age of Empires games, have many other features that take advantage of its less-believable source material.

There are three different factions in the game - the Greeks, the Norse and the Egyptians – with different strengths and weaknesses, but they still share some core fundamentals.

All of them still have to build bases, starting with the typical Town Center building archetype. Then, they will have to deploy worker units, which are of course Villagers, following the tradition of the "Age of ..." franchise. These worker units typically move over to resource nodes or patches, work on them and return resources to various drop-off points. The resources themselves are the usual sorts to be expected from an Ensemble Studios RTS game: food, wood and gold.

The player then uses these pooled resources to construct buildings, which are then used to produce units with and/or purchase upgrades for them.

These are tried-and-true core RTS mechanics, but also very old and typical ones, so a player should not be expecting any revolution from Age of Mythology in the resourcing aspect of real-time strategy games.

On the other hand, the other mechanics in the game are a lot more refreshing.

The mechanic of the "fourth" resource is the most prominent of these, as this is most representative of the game's themes of having the patronage of celestial deities bear fruit in the form of powers and beasts that few mortals could withstand. "Favor" is the appropriate name of this resource, and it is not gained in the same way as the others.

For one, it is not a finite resource, unlike wood and gold. It isn't as straight-forward to gain as food either, and most importantly, a player can ever only have 100 units of Favor at a time, for good reasons that will be apparent later.

The mechanic of Favor is also where the game's three main factions differ from each, from the perspective of resource operations.

The Greeks merely need to send their Villagers over to Temples and have them performing worshipping rituals non-stop to generate Favor. It may seem that the Greeks have the best Favor-generating system as it grants the Greek player reliable control over the rate of generation, but such designs also happen to tie up their Villagers in an activity that does not produce other resources and also ties up a relatively higher proportion of the Greek player's population of units in the form of non-combatants.

The Egyptians need only build Monuments to generate Favor, but they have no control over the generation rate and they can only build so many of these buildings. Being static buildings, they are also vulnerable to raids.

The Norse have the most interesting and also the most contentious Favor-generating mechanic: they have to go out to find battle in order to get the Favor that they need. This may appear to be a net-win for the Norse, which do have hard-hitting and fast mortal units. The Norse player gets to do battle and gains something from it even if he/she happens to lose fights, after all. Yet, this does make the Norse player rather predictable; a Norse player that knows what he/she has to do is guaranteed to go on early-game raids, for example.

The mechanic of Favor-gaining is a refreshingly fun and satisfactorily functional one, though it can be argued that it is not entirely original in design.

Favor will be used as a fourth resource to purchase non-mortal units and upgrades that are thematically divine blessings.

Many divine upgrades can be quite powerful and valuable, as they add more properties to the units that they affect, especially mortal units. For example, mortal units can have their lines of sight increased, helping the player spot incoming enemies more easily. Granted, many of these upgrades were already featured in earlier Age of Empires games and they can be purchased with more mundane resources, but attaching a Favor cost balances these otherwise overpowering upgrades further. Furthermore, using Favor to purchase these upgrades takes away Favor that could have been used to summon non-mortal units, which can be quite exciting to use (especially if the player is a veteran of the Age of Empires games and are already tired of using the usual pikemen, bowmen, swordsmen, etc.).

Before elaborating on these otherworldly units, the mortal ones have to be described first, if only to emphasize the contrast between them. That is not saying that they are worthless compared to the non-mortal units - far from it.

Yet, before elaborating on mortal units themselves, the mechanic of sub-factions have to be explained first, as this is heavily related to the designs and availability of units both mortal and non-mortal, as well as the mechanic of divine miracles that will be mentioned later.

Although the game has three main factions, each main faction has three sub-factions which are based on the trinity of the most prominent gods of that civilization. While each sub-faction shares the same core designs as the other two, such as most mortal units and buildings, they have different patterns of access to the worship of minor deities; some sub-factions even have exclusive deities, such as the Norse Loki sub-faction being the only one that has access to Hel, which in turn gives exclusive access to a certain mythical and very powerful dragon. Some sub-factions may even have exclusive units.

The mechanic of advancing in ages in the Age of Empires franchise is in Age of Mythology as well. When a player of a certain sub-faction advances in age, typically by purchasing the upgrade at the Town Center building and waiting for it to complete, the player is given the choice to expand the player's pantheon to include one of two minor deities, depending on the pattern of access of the sub-faction that the player has chosen. Selecting a deity gives the player access to the non-mortal units (and maybe even special buildings), divine upgrades and miracles which are associated with that deity.

While the originality of the mechanics of sub-factions and selecting what are essentially access to different sets of units, upgrades and powers is debatable, it is difficult to deny that they have been implemented well in Age of Mythology in a manner that is also refreshing.

Most mortal units, especially for the Greeks and Egyptians, are practically port-overs from the Age of Empires games; there are the usual lance-equipped skirmishers, spearmen, slingers, and mounted troops like chariots and horsemen, as well as siege engines like catapults and ballistae; these units are typically named using Greek, Norse and Egyptian phrases. There won't be much here that would surprise players who had played the Age of Empires games.

However, playing these factions further, the player will notice that there are some outrageous mortal units to be had, and these happen to be rather steeped in mythology. Some sub-factions have access to legendary warriors, or soldiers whose existence are highly debatable (to put them in a less vainglorious light), such as the Zeus sub-faction's Myrmidons, which happen to be hard-counters against the mortal units of the other two main factions.

The Norse faction is perhaps the one that has regular units that are anything if regular. Unlike the other two main factions, their worker units only have the function of gathering resources but can do little else. However, they do have access to Ox-Carts, which are mobile drop-off points for resources.

The building work is handed over to the mortal fighting units instead, specifically their foot infantry. This means that when out of combat, the player's infantry army may stop running around for a while to erect a crudely designed but functional Norse building. The player's Villagers may also be immediately converted over to Ulfsarks, the most basic of Norse infantry units for some food costs, if the player needs to quickly raise a defense force for bases.

Considering that Norse infantry are some of the fastest and hardest-hitting infantry in the game, this may seem to give the Norse faction a great advantage at strategies such as "tower-rushing", which is planting Guard Towers at strategic locations to stall the expansion of enemy players. This is further bolstered by their mobile resourcing operations, thanks to the Ox-Carts. However, this is balanced by the relative weakness of Norse buildings and that Guard Towers will only be available at the second Age, when most players will have some units or ability to deal with defensive buildings. Ox-Carts also happen to be rather weak and slow units that take up population points.

Nevertheless, this ability of the Norse army to build on-the-go and have mobile resourcing operations will remain useful throughout any game session, because it still gives them great tactical versatility. As peculiar and perhaps even contentious as this is, this is one game design that makes Age of Mythology very different from other real-time strategy games at the time.

Non-mortal units, known as "mythical units" in this game, are powerful, often capable of destroying mortal units if the latter do not outnumber them or are not kitted out to specifically defeat mythical units. Therefore, to balance them, not all of the mythical units that a faction has are available to a player of that faction. Instead, some of them will only be available depending on the combination of the minor deities that the player chose for his/her pantheon. Mythical units also have fewer upgrades compared to mortal units.

Mythical units are how the game exploits myths of the ancient world to the fullest. Any mythical creature that the player can think of is more than likely to be in this game, rendered in manners not unlike how they have been illustrated in real-world works of art or described in ancient apocrypha. Each of them will serve a tactical role, such as the Pegasus acting as an aerial scout (which happens to be purchasable with just Favor) and the Minotaur as a heavy shock troop that can counter ranks of melee mortal troops rather handily.

Some of them have special abilities that can be triggered to suddenly increase their offensive power, such as the aforementioned Minotaur having a goring attack that can send any small-sized unit flying and the Sphinx turning into a whirlwind of sand to damage adjacent enemy units. However, it is odd that Ensemble Studios chose not to put the control of the use of these powers under the full control of the player; instead, such powers are triggered randomly when the creatures engage in battle. This can be a bit disappointing as these powers would have had a lot more tactical value if they can be triggered when the player desires it.

Other creatures have special attributes that give it an ever-present advantage over mortal units, such as the Fenris Wolf's ability to become deadlier and faster as its pack increases in size, i.e. the player adds more units to its mob, and the Wadjet's ability to constantly regenerate hitpoints, thus helping the Egyptian Priest reduce his healing workload (there will be more on the Priest later).

Some other mythical units have abilities that are somewhat within the control of the player. For example, the Valkyrie can be directed to heal other friendly units by right-clicking on them, and the Mummy is expected to raise slain mortal enemies as short-lived but still handy undead minions.

Some other mythical creatures have the same role as some mortal units, especially siege and transport units. This may seem to make them redundant, but the mythical creatures have the advantage of being immune to most of the special attacks of other creatures (which are usually mainly effective against mortal troops) and being more durable and faster. Notable examples include the Leviathan, which can transport up to 15 units and is rather difficult to take down, and the Scarab, which is a siege unit that can bring down buildings very quickly and is a lot less vulnerable than mortal siege engines.

It should be apparent that mythical units can be a lot of fun to use, especially against mortal units that have yet to be improved in any way. However, it has to be noted here that some of them can have abilities that can be rather game-imbalancing. An example of this is the Colossus, which can eat gold from gold mines or wood from trees to heal instantly; an unscrupulous player who has used Colossi in an attack (or defense) that is going to fail may attempt to inflict scorched-earth attacks on the enemy by sending the dying Colossi after nearby gold deposits to deny their use.

Rounding out the variety of units in the factions' militaries are Heroes, who are mostly mortal and human. In other RTS games at the time, Heroes tended to be amplified versions of regular units or are powerful unique units of which the player can have only a few, Age of Mythology takes a slightly different approach with the mechanic of Heroes.

In Age of Mythology, Heroes are hard-counters for mythical units; this design decision is somewhat justified by works of literature about legendary heroes such as the Iliad, which often depicted Heroes as slayers of mythical beasts. Some Hero units even have special attacks and/or graphical effects that are only seen when they fight mythical units, such as Perseus' petrification attack (made using the head of Medusa, which he apparently carries around all the time).

The Greeks perhaps have the most orthodox designs for Heroes. Every Greek player gets to recruit a single, unique Hero unit for every Age, with the first one usually being the weakest but still plenty capable of dealing with early-game raids by mythical units. Each of them is understandably one of the legendary figures in Greek fables. It may seem that having just individual Heroes going up against what would be mobs of mythical units is a poor idea for countering mythical units, especially considering that they do not have a lot of special abilities that can deal with hordes of enemies and that the mythical units may be supported by mortal ones, but the game does go out of the way to mention that they are meant to be supplements to the player's main army.

The Egyptians do not have much in the way of Heroes; they have mainly Priests to use as ranged, mortal hard-counters to mythical units. However, they can also summon completely free scout towers in the form of Obelisks and more importantly, are able to heal wounded units. Considering that the other two factions have to deliberately pick minor deities that offer healing solutions, the Egyptians' ready access to Priests can be a major advantage. They may also have secondary powers, depending on the sub-faction that the player has chosen. They do have a drawback though - they are the weakest Hero units in the game, and they are not able to collect Relics (more on this later).

(It should be noted here that healing is most effective outside of combat than in it, so a player with a lot of healing units may not be able to increase the survivability of his/her army as much as he/she thinks.)

Other than the Priests, there is the Pharaoh, who is a Hero that the Egyptian player also readily has. In fact, he respawns at the Town Center for free after a while if his previous incarnation is slain for whatever reason. The Pharaoh is practically a more powerful Priest, with access to special upgrades that increase his combat capabilities; some even give the player an extra Pharaoh, unlocking a lot of strategic and tactical possibilities.

(A certain divine miracle changes the Pharaoh into a powerful combat Hero - perhaps the most powerful that can be legally obtained too.)

However, his most important ability is to "empower" buildings, which he does by simply going over to a building and inspire it with his magnificence. As vainglorious and absurd as this sounds, almost any action that the building is performing is accelerated, be it researching an upgrade, recruiting units or even firing arrows, giving the Egyptian player a lot of tactical versatility. He can also empower drop-off sites for resources, giving resource bonuses.

The Norse has the Hersir, which is a melee infantry hero. He would seem unremarkable, if not for his abilities, which include his ability to generate favor automatically without needing to go into battle and ability to construct buildings like other Norse infantry units.

Heroes are also associated with another mechanic of the game that makes it very different from other real-time strategy games at the time. It involves the accumulation of Relics, which can only be collected by Heroes (except Egyptian Priests).

Relics, which were introduced in Age of Empires 2, contribute more to gameplay in Age of Mythology. They look simple: bright, unseen artifacts contained within lantern-like containers. They may be spawned into any map, scattered throughout. Once collected and returned to any of the factions' Temples, they will impart bonuses to the player that has them, though his/her opponents will be alerted to this event.

Gathering Relics gives a lot of incentive to scout around early in a session; this is a good design decision on the part of Ensemble Studios.

However, it has to be noted here that this mechanic doesn't appear to be fair to the Egyptians, who have the Pharaoh as the only unit that can collect Relics throughout the entire game session. It is also unfair to the Greeks early-game, as a Greek player can only have one Hero unit per Age.

The Norse, on the other hand, can train quite a lot of Hersirs early on, during the Archaic age in fact, to seek out and hog as many Relics as possible. This can be risky to the Norse player, as his/her early-game resources would be spent on Hersirs who aren't really very powerful Heroes, but having a lot more Relics than other players can be a huge pay-off, if the player can prevent raids targeted at his/her Temple.

The mechanic of trading, which had been in the Age of Empires games, is also in Age of Mythology as well. However, it has been altered a bit.

Merchant units can only be land-based; they also happen to appear as unguided beasts of burden (which can be a bit amusing). They move along trade routes that have been set up between a market and a friendly town center, making money for the owning player, the amount of which depends on the distance of the trading route. There are no longer any water-based trading routes, which make trading difficult in ocean-oriented maps.

In the Age of Empires games, the player can dictate where Town Centers can be built. Considering how large and tough Town Centers can be, and that they can be garrisoned for an increase in defensive strength, unscrupulous players can abuse the privilege of building Town Centers anywhere to block off choke points, or to stretch trade routes.

In Age of Mythology, this tactic of blocking off choke-points is handed over to the redoubt-like buildings instead, such as the Egyptians' Migdol Strongholds, but these require a lot of resources, including Favor, to build, which balance them gameplay-wise.

As for Town Centers, they may only be built on terrain features known as Settlements now. This makes the locations of Town Centers that can possibly exist in the map quite predictable, which somewhat help make game sessions more manageable. Destroying a Town Center reverts it to a Settlement, which is ready to be built-up by any player.

Other notable differences compared to the Age of Empires franchise is that units now have two different types of armor, which counter against two different types of attacks: hacking, which is mainly caused by sword-, axe- or pilum-swinging units, and piercing, which is mainly caused by units with spears, arrows and other weapons that poke and penetrate. There are few units that can have high ratings in both types of armor, so there is usually a counter or two for a powerful, tough unit.

Age of Mythology's most spectacular departure from the formulae of the Age of Empires games is its mechanic of divine powers or miracles. Every player gets some divine powers to use, the permutations of which depend on the sub-faction and minor deities that the player has chosen as his/her pantheon. These powers can be invoked at virtually any time (unless it is blocked by other divine powers) and are typically powerful or at least are of substantial tactical value, but they can only be used once, generally.

The single-use limitation may seem odd to RTS veterans who are used to super-weapon mechanics that allow the player to use them repeatedly, but in hindsight, this was a good design decision on the part of Ensemble Studios; none of the divine powers are game-enders in their own right, so to use them effectively, players need to follow up with actual utilization of their respective militaries. This promotes strategic planning instead of relying on godly powers like they are win-buttons.

The mechanic of building and retaining very large and expensive Wonders to win the game is in Age of Mythology too, pretty much unchanged from the Age Of Empires games. This can be a bit disappointing, considering how much effort that Ensemble Studios had invested in having Age of Mythology being so different in many ways other than the core fundamentals.

The mechanic of pantheons can be rather overwhelming to unfamiliar players, what with the bonuses, research options, upgrades and mythical units that each choice of minor deity brings. Fortunately, the game comes with very good documentation, both in-game and in hardcopy. Of course, this can be considered a given from Ensemble Studios, who had shown that they do not shy away from very in-depth texts with the Age of Empires games, but it is pleasing that the greater sophistication of Age of Mythology did not faze the developer by much.

The single-player campaigns in the Age of Empires games were constrained by their real-world themes and sometimes lack-luster presentation. The single-player campaign in Age of Mythology, on the other hand, benefits from its mythical themes and the narrative gaps in literary works of legends and fables; it can seem rather epic, which comes as a surprise from Ensemble Studios.

To describe much of the story would be to include spoilers in this review, but it should suffice to say that the story mode makes use of certain Greek fables to introduce itself and the protagonists. Its prologue also serves as a showcase of how different it is from the comparatively rote campaigns of the Age of Empires games: it makes use of models and animations that had been specifically crafted for the single-player campaign to make scenarios that are quite rare in story modes for RTS games at the time, to cite an illustrative example.

Age of Mythology's campaign also makes use of some designs for special Heroes and units that are so powerful that they never made it into the other official game modes. The most prominent example of these is the main protagonist himself, who is a great leader in the game and this talent of his is reflected in a war-cry ability, which enhances the power of mortal soldiers in a large radius. Such an ability would be too convenient and imbalanced for competitive play, but the player would appreciate its inclusion in the single-player campaign, which can throw some rather hairy challenges at the player.

The single-player campaign can give an experience that is quite different from those in other game modes, which add to the value of the game.

Before Ensemble's dissolution, the multiplayer modes of the game were playable through Ensemble Studios Online, which was a free match-making and chatting service that was quite decent in helping players find matches and was reasonably stable (in regions where it operated). Statistics-recording through the service also helped players track their achievements, which meant more in Age of Mythology than they did in the Age of Empires games as the former is a lot more sophisticated. The modes can also be played via LAN or direct-IP connections, making for a well-rounded multiplayer infrastructure.

As for the multiplayer modes themselves, there are up to seven, which offer variations on victory conditions, starting resources and game speed. They have interesting names, but experienced real-time strategy game veterans would notice that none of them would change up the gameplay beyond what has been described above; at most, they would require very different build and recon strategies, but the fundamentals of the game remained the same.

Nevertheless, the gameplay itself was so well-designed anyway, that it contributed much to the game's longevity.

Other aspects of the game that contributed to its longevity is its scenario editor, which is more advanced than the editors that Ensemble Studios had made for the Age of Empires games before Age of Mythology. Moreover, consummate users can create scenarios with in-game cinematics, many script triggers and custom voice-overs, among other features.

Ensemble Studios (and to some extent, Microsoft Game Studios) further added to the value of this game by offering a short but free downloadable campaign, called the Golden Gift, through Microsoft's official download servers. The campaign has a more amusing undertone than the main one, and it also features full voice-acting from three characters that were not so well-explored in the main campaign.

Ensemble's (or more precisely, Microsoft's) proprietary game engine, called "Bang Engine", allowed Age of Mythology to be rendered and run in three dimensions, which is definitely a significant departure over the Age of Empires games.

Of course, being a real-time strategy game that has to accommodate for large numbers of models on-screen, the models that populate the game world are not heavily laden with polygons and graphical effects. Shadows are mere blobs underneath models (albeit rendered smooth and soft) and the game does not pack tremendous amounts of lighting. Textures are also quite simple.

However, Age of Mythology compensates by having a wide colour palette and decals that flow very easily across surfaces.

The former can be seen in the designs for units and buildings; at the highest camera zoom level, the myriad of colours helps a lot in differentiating units from each other, especially the mortal ones, which are much smaller compared to mythical units. The myriad of colours also help paint the world in Age of Mythology as a rather vibrant one.

Speaking of relatively small units, groups of similar units that had been hotkeyed together will have banners appear on-screen, within the user interface itself for quick selection. Depending on their majority make-up, these banners will have icons that depict the main type of units that the groups have.

(Banners for groups of mythical units do not have sufficient variations, unfortunately, considering that there are many types of mythical units that are suited for different roles.)

Easily flowing decals can be seen through visual changes in the environment. For example, shadows appear to skim across buildings and units as unseen clouds drift by, and waves roll across the ocean surprisingly seamlessly (though the decals would seem to repeat eventually, if the player stares long enough).

The wide variety of units in the game is visually emphasized through their animations. Few unit types share the same sets of animations, even the mortal ones (whom a player would expect to share the most amount of animations, being of the same species and all). The highlight in animation designs of course belongs to the mythical units. To cite some illustrative examples, Colossi and Cyclopi stride majestically, confident in their mass and power, while Nemean Lions appear to take dainty strolls, being the fabulous and vain creatures that they are described to be.

The game engine is not so magnificent when they are used for in-game cutscenes, however. During the single-player campaign, there are a lot of cinematic sequences where the camera zooms in on the models of the protagonists and antagonists; the low number of polygons and simple textures are particularly evident during these scenes, as are the lack of facial animations and any lip-synching for characters being voiced.

However, Ensemble Studios compensates by having the models for characters show off body language, such as the egoistic stride that a side character makes early in the campaign, and amusing head-shaking and shrugging at the less-than-stellar wit of one of the protagonists. These touches help make the otherwise unimpressive in-game cutscenes still quite enjoyable.

Much like the Age of Empires games, units have voice-overs which are made using the language of the civilization that they belong to. They speak simple repeated sentences, so it would not take too long for players to figure out whether units are uttering acknowledgement of orders or not.

Players would find this plenty expected for the mortal units, but hearing some of the mythical units that have humanoid mouths utter them too can be a bit amusing. Their voice-overs are ultimately just re-mixed versions of the normal ones uttered by mortal units, however, as a keen player would soon notice.

On the other hand, the cutscenes in the single-player campaign are voiced-over with English lines, with some accents for Egyptian and Norse characters; the Greek ones sound plenty American. Players who pine for authentic experiences may have problems with these voice-overs, but for the purposes of expressing the emotions and intrigues involved in the cutscenes, which usually concern plot twists and expositions, the voice-over is quite adequate. There is some melo-drama, but this would be understandable as typical high-fantasy themes are involved.

Most of the sound effects that the mortal units have would be rather familiar to players who had played the Age of Empires games, such as the clash of metal on metal during battles among these units.

The sound effects for mythical units are more refreshing though. While there were little sources that would describe how they sound like beyond the real-world animals that they resemble where they are depicted in works of art, Ensemble Studios has done a pretty good job of designing sound effects that are believable for these mythical units. For example, there is the suitably blaring horn-blows of the Einherjar and the hissing spit of the Wadjet.

The soundtracks are another part of the game that Age of Mythology has done well. One would expect Ensemble Studios to resort to recycling the soundtracks in Age of Empires, but they did not: there are orchestral music interspersed with synthetic electronic and tunes from ancient, traditional musical instruments, such as the tabla. The soundtracks are played according to the current situation that the player is facing, e.g. engaging in battle plays the more exciting soundtracks in the list and triggering the more powerful of the high-level godly powers such as Thoth's Meteor Storm will trigger an epic soundtrack of ominous tones.

In conclusion, Age of Mythology has done plenty to differentiate itself from the Age of Empires franchise. Where skeptical players may expect more of the same rote gameplay that had been permeating the real-time subgenre of strategy games at the time as well as a shameless exploitation of myths and legends, Age of Mythology is a refreshing yet familiar game that makes fun use of its source material.