|Age of Empires III (PC)|
|Publisher: Microsoft||Developer: Ensemble Studios|
|Genre: Real-Time Strategy||Release Date: 10/18/2005|
|ESRB: Teen|| More Info on this Game
By Dave 'Fargo' Kosak |
Oct. 19, 2005
Visually stunning and brilliantly executed, Age III may not redefine the real-time strategy genre, but it easily ranks as one of this year's best for the PC.
|Great visuals; outstanding multiplayer interface; tons of strategies.||We ran into some lag online; limited hotkeys; requires a beefy system.|
Age of Empires III doesn't redefine real-time strategy gameplay. You're still scurrying to collect more resources than your opponents and rushing to field a giant army, and the game still rewards frantic clicking and unit management. But the presentation is unmatched, and even though the game is rooted in RTS conventions, there are enough new elements and strategic variations here to addict even grizzled veterans. If you're a fan of the genre, you owe it to yourself to check this game out. And if you've never played a real-time game before, this is the place to start.
The Majesty of the Frontier
Graphically, the engine that powers Age of Empires III has a laundry list of the latest graphics technology: real-time shadows, high dynamic range lighting, you name it. There's even bump-mapping on the barrels of the cannons. But the real impressive thing about the technology isn't that it's there, it's that you don't notice it. From the moment your Home City first appears on the menu screen, or a new map loads up to reveal pale grey waters lapping quietly against rocky New England shores, you become lost in the game world. The latest in technology is coupled with truly beautiful art.
Age III pulls out all the stops to depict the sweeping majesty of the old west or the unspoiled beauty of the colonial-era Americas. One of the single-player campaign cutscenes, done in the game engine, pans across rolling hills of golden grass while huge herds of buffalo amble along like waves of water. Another level depicts a small Caribbean port picking up the pieces after a devastating hurricane, with citizens milling about amidst wrecked ships and broken docks. Yet another level has you picking your way through a dense swamp looking for the ruins of Spanish treasure ships half-buried in the mud and dripping with gold doubloons. You're never lacking for eye candy.
The music is equally impressive. Done in full orchestra, it moves effortlessly from majestic scores highlighting the beauty of the landscape to pounding battle drums accenting the fury of battle.
Of course, the combat is equally spectacular. The goal of the game is to devastate your opponents, and said devastation is accompanied by deeply satisfying images of destruction. A large part of this has to do with the real physics incorporated onto the game engine. You can feel the impact when a cannonball shatters into a wooden frontier building, breaking it into pieces that fly off in macabre arcs. Smoke billows from muskets, cannons leap back as they expel their fury, building spires burst into flame and collapse into themselves, and the masts of ships crash to the deck as the vessel shudders with the impact of enemy fire. Every game of Age of Empires III drips with spectacle.
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