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AudioSoldier Blog

Age Of Mythology Review

Back on the summit of the RTS pile.

Back on the summit of the RTS pile.

As I write my cat sits perched on my knees, her claws dug into my flesh. I’m wincing, just…able…to…type. She purrs when I stroke her, a low rumble that builds and builds until it reaches a shattering crescendo that shakes the floorboards and makes the windowpanes rattle. Well, that’s if she were a special cat. As I say special to myself, her ears prick up, long slender hairy things, with points at the tip. I’m starting to think she may be special.

The point of all this is that she reminds me of a Persian cat belonging to the Greek gods, which is appropriate for the game I’m reviewing right now; Age Of Mythology. Apparently Mythology is not history, but stories based on tradition and legend designed to explain the universal and local beginnings. The mythological stories told do of course date back thousands of years, and mythology as a whole is very deep. Which all amounts to good gaming material, and lots at that. This isn’t the first time a game has been based on Mythology, you might remember Zeus from a few years back; however Age of Mythology is in a league of its own, and while Zeus was a management game, AOM is a full-blown RTS with RPG bits in it.

Age Of mythology is from the same people who created Age of Empires 1 and 2. There are similarities. The structure is essentially the same; build an army, defeat the enemy. However effort has been put in to mix and match the gameplay to the extent that RPG elements enter the fore. In fact, bizarrely, half way through the game, the evil sorceress Circe turns you and your comrades into pigs. Now how’s that for variety? Near the end of the 32 Scenario campaign you need to complete an objective before the timelimit is up. On another occasion you need to defend your base for 20 solid minutes, which is frustrating and on the easiest setting there’s little to do but twiddle your fingers and play with your cat.

As a general rule I don’t play tutorials for any game, especially RTS games. Instead I skip straight to the campaign missions. Upon starting It’s a good way to gauge whether the game in question is overly complicated, or whether its easy to get to grips with, even if you haven’t played the tutorial. AOM is easy to get to grips with. It plays like any other Age of game, with a few additives. For a start there’s the useful function for finding any labourers who aren’t doing anything. This is a function that’s essential for building great armies. Seeing as there are five different minerals to harvest and mine, you want all your labourers working at all times. Mining stone from Age of Empires 1 and 2 has been scrapped for a favour system. The three different nations (Egyptians, Greeks, Norseman, I’ll explain more later) you play in as the game progresses, force you to gain favour in different ways. In Egypt you gain favour by preying to the gods for example, whereas in the Norselands its all about fighting.

The Greeks are the easiest to get to grips with, because they play more like the original sides in Age Of Kings, and require a balance of all resources to produce buildings and units, and adopt a similar style of gathering and upgrading. The Egyptians take a bit more time to get used to, because they don’t need wood for their basic structures, so things like markets and drop sites are free. However they are slower to construct buildings than the other sides, but faster at creating units.

The Norse are the most diverse of the three. Their gatherers do just that, gather food. Dwarves can do the same as gatherers, only slower, but they’re very fast at collecting gold. Building structures is left to the military units, which means that the Norse make an awesome rushing side.

For any self-proclaiming RTS there has to be development within the game, and AOM is no exception. With freedom the name of the game, your actions can, to a certain extent, define the direction the game goes in. This is mainly achieved by gods and worship. When you enter a new continent you get the choice of a main god for that region. For example, when you begin the Norse you have a choice of Odin, Loki or Thor. Depending on your choice, certain facets of your civilization are improved. Similar to Age of Kings however, you may want to advance to a superior age at some point , and so you upon upgrading to that age, you’ll have a choice of a sub-god, who too will aid you in some way or another. Most obviously, you gain access to new infantry and Myth units. More importantly, the sub-god you choose will open up an array of god powers for your use. What’s exciting is the variety of these powers. You might be able to break down stone walls, or bring back the dead, or even summon a great winged serpent to do your bidding.

Myth units are another exciting addition to the Age of world. One criticism that could be levelled at Ensemble’s previous efforts was that the soldiers and cavalary became a tad repetitive toward the end of the game, and this is Ensemble’s answer. Myth Units are usually hugely powerful, but require a huge amount of favour to build. Once you have a couple of Cyclops’s or Chimera’s in your army however, you’ll be virtually impossible to stop.

Myth Units aside, no army is complete without Heroes. Though you start each scenario off with a couple of heroes there’s an option to create more. All the heroes in the game (even the important ones) can be reborn, so long as you’re controlling the particular area that the hero has died in. In fact the only way to die is to loose all your heroes, and have your encampment and labourers demolished meaning that there’s no way you can build any more soldiers. On the easiest difficulty this won’t happen more than once throughout the game, and you’ll want to ease the difficulty up a notch as you progress. Sure, AOM isn’t the toughest RTS out there, but its rewarding at the same time, and the missions are still very time consuming. The whole Hero’s reborn idea is a clever one that punishes recklessness without discouraging the use of the personalities that the propel the page-turning plot.

The plot is wonderfully written, acted and has enough twists in it to make you hungrily pursuing more. Its drawn out, and you might at some stage want the game to end quickly so you can find out what happens, but it wont stop you from playing. Or at, least, It didn’t stop me, and even now as I write this, I’m drawn to the Thor icon nestling at the top corner of the desktop.

Nearing the end of this review, I’d just like to touch upon the relics system, that lends the game a Diablo feel. Essentially, you’ll come across Relics (boxes) during your travels and by taking these back with you to your encampment, sections of your civilization will be improved. Much like the gods then, but to a lesser extent.

Usually at this late stage of a review, I’ll sift out any criticisms I have about the game in question, gently prodding the game with a skewer of insight. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that the most damning thing I can level at AOM is that the god screens are a rather unappealing sight. Actually, on a more negative note, AOM ‘s 3D engine pales considerably in comparison to its rivals. With some great voice acting and a riveting sound-track, this shouldn’t put too many people off. Moreover the exciting and very interesting missions make you forget the graphical Inadequacies.

Still brilliant? Yes

Back on the summit of the RTS pile? Definitely.

Wow, what an incredible day!

Before I play Far Cry, I need to tell my story.

Alright, so a couple of days back I wake up at 6:30 as per ususal, to catch the 7:25 train to school.

I meet my friend (James) at his house at 7:15 (it must be emphasized that this is all, "as per normal") and we begin our 5 minute journey to the train station. Half-way there a train comes past, but we're too lazy to try and catch it (after all we've just woken up). Instead we sidle on and reach the station at about 7:21, in time for our usual train. Waiting on the platform is another guy who goes to my school, Steven.

So...the minutes tick by, and then, over a loudspeaker, it's announced that the trains are experiencing a 10-20 minute delay due to technical problems in Cape Town. So we wait, and wait. After an hour of waiting, and no train, we decide to leave the station and make our way back to Stevens house in the hope of persuading his mother to drive us into school. By this time we're already late for school, so oh well, there's no chance of being on time. As soon as we walk down the steps of the station and get into our stride, a train comes our way. James says: "I said that as soon as we leave the station a train will come our way." However we all reason that we're already late, so why not get a more luxurious ride to school?

We all arrive at Steven's house to find his mother not home. Beginning to get very annoyed by this stage, we decide to try the other station for a change in scenery. To our horror, upon reaching the station, we're informed there will be an hour wait for the next train! De ja vu!?

Edit: I forgot to mention that after leaving Steven's house, he finds that he can't find his wallet with his monthly train ticket in it, and must run back home to get money for a return ticket. (we all assumed it got stolen).

Steven goes to a pay phone to phone home to tell his sister to tell his mother to pick us up from the station when she gets back from the shops. By this time it's 8:50, we're 50 minutes late for school. Then, suddenly, out of the blue a train comes. Steven, in panic, runs to the payphone and quickly phones home to tell his sister to tell his mother to not come and pick us up. Just as the train is leaving he jumps on.

To make a long story short, we arrive at school decidely dishevelled, but happy nontheless, a mere two hours late for school!

PLEASE Trust my reviews!

I feel cheap asking this, but i've put a lot of effort into my reviews and would like to see myself gaining some more trusts. My Half-Life 2 and Grim Fandango reviews are definitely my best, and my Escape from monkey island one is OK too.

I watched Malcolm in the middle today!

In this episode Lois and Hal competed in a competition to be crowned the greatest sausage eater of all, or something like that. It was funny because Lois ate her sausages sedately, using a knife and fork and cutting them up into neat, tiny slices, wheras the rest of the contestants stuffed their faces with the sausages. It was a juicy finale!

Reese came up with a great way of earning quick and easy money, by allowing all the kids in the neighbourd hes tortured over the years to beat him up for 30 seconds. However to take part you had to pay 20 dollars, dewey handling the money.

Malcolm inadvertantly helped a "robber", but his story gradually had a twist in it.

Poor Francis spent the episode trying to get a cow to ***