You'll have a lot more leisure to watch the awesome cinematics. Though the individual missions are introduced by in-game cutscenes, there are great movies at the beginning and end of each act. The production values here are very high with great staging, lighting and excellent detail overall.
Though the physics are a nice touch, it's really just eye-candy. While it's great to see trees knocked down when cannon fire rips through a forest, the trees themselves don't seem to hurt any units standing below. Ditto for the huge chunks of buildings that are sent flying by cannon fire. While it would make the game a bit more complicated, having units unaffected by these visual elements is a little distracting.
The sounds in Age of Empires are quite good but it doesn't stand out separately from the graphics or gameplay. The music and dialogue serve the story and action well and the effects add a little weight to the combats. My only real gripe about the sound is that there aren't enough vocal cues. You'll constantly need to keep track of all your units because they won't warn you if, say, they're being devoured by wolves while you're busy figuring out just where to build your church.
Age of Empires III is a superbly balanced and polished game and it definitely ups the ante for the C&C and 'Craft developers. Discounting a few niggles in the interface, the whole presentation is rock solid. Each new release in the Age of Empires series has added something to the mix. But while Age of Empires II seemed to focus on quantity, Age of Empires III sacrifices some units and civilizations in order to make the whole experience much tighter.
The graphics are definitely the first thing you'll notice about Age of Empires III. While they're definitely an easy selling point, the real appeal lies in the gameplay itself. The unit design and the range of opportunities in both the single player and multiplayer missions will definitely get your strategic juices flowing. There wasn't a single slow moment in the campaign, from leading the knight's defense of Malta to securing trade routes from a rival railroad company centuries later. Moving on to multiplayer, there are so many choices for you to make that you can't help but be excited by the open-ended format of the game.
|out of 10||click here for ratings guide|
Great story for the single player campaign and good use of the time period. A nice range of innovations for the series.
Impressive on nearly all counts. Great detail on every element, from the individual soldiers to the water.
Good enough to serve the action but doesn't stand out on its own.
Great balance across the board. The new gameplay elements add more strategy and variety to the standard RTS model.
After a few days for the single player campaign you'll find that the multiplayer portion of the game has lots to offer.
(out of 10 / not an average)
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ESRB Content Descriptors: Blood, Violence