Age of Mythology Reader Review
The real time strategy genre has some of the most die hard fans youíll ever meet, and if you do fall into this category you will be pleased to know that Age of Mythology from Ensemble Studios is a fine addition to the genre.
You begin the story as Arkantos a hero of Atlantis and loyal to the god Poseidon. You begin by defending the port of Atlantis from attacking pirates but soon find out that they have stolen the trident of Poseidon. But upon returning the trident you learn that even more treachery is afoot and the Cyclops Gargenysis is trying to unleash the Titans from their imprisonment, from there your adventure begins.
The story takes place over one campaign and is massive in size, spanning across three different mythologies, Greek, Egyptian, and Norse. Each section has its own unique attributes including units, buildings, god powers and of course the gods themselves.
The three separate mythologies is something that adds a whole level of depth to the game and just as you consider yourself well trained in the ways of Greek Mythology you greeted at the prospect of having to then master the Egyptian and Norse game modes.
Thereís more than just cosmetic aspect to each of the mythologies and this becomes apparent as soon as you try your hand at one unfamiliar with you. One example of this is the way you gather resources. With the Greek and Egyptian modes you use peasants and labourers to gather all of the resources, and do your structural building and repairing. The Norse have gatherers who are more skilled at gathering resources such as wood and food, but also have a Dwarf unit that is skilled highly in mining and acquires it at a higher rate than a gatherer. Neither of these units can build any structures (gatherers can build farms,) so it is down to the Norse military to do all their construction work.
There are other ways in which all three mythologies differ, another way is generating favour. Favour is used in the creation and upgrades of mythological units, such as the Valkyrie and Hydra. The Greeks build temples and have peasants worship at the temple, the more peasants worshiping the more favour you gain. The Egyptians build monuments to their gods and the more you build the more favour you gain, and the Norse gain favour through fighting.
The differences add such a nice break from the game because not only do you have to think about your strategy, but you have to change strategies dependant on which mythology your opponents belong to, something made increasingly challenging if you have more than one opponent of varying mythologies.
Like with all games of the genre, units are important and there are certainly plenty on offer. Units are split into three groups, human, myth and hero. Human units are those such as the Greek Hoplite and archers, where myth units are those such as the Hydra, Pegasus and Cyclops. Hero units are those such as the Greek Achilles and the Egyptian Priests. Each unit has its own strengths and weaknesses which makes for interesting combat, for example you canít just send a battalion of Minotaur to an enemy camp, youíll need a well balanced army of human, hero and myth. Upgrades are also aplenty and youíll find yourself spending just as many resources on upgrades as you will your army.
Those wishing to take on some human competition can do so directly over a LAN or across the internet and this makes for some good gaming sessions. The multiplayer modes are very similar to that found in games like Age of Empires, so should be familiar to a lot of players from the outset. With the ability to send resources to team members that need it you can bet there will be some highly contested multiplayer games taking place, something that adds a good deal of replay value to the game.
As always a map editor is a great addition to a game and Age of Mythologies is no different. Iíve always enjoyed it when a map editor comes with a game; it gives it that little extra that makes it just a tad more enjoyable. With the ability to create what ever style of map you wish, you may find yourself engrossed in it for quite some time. Everything is up to you, starting resources, unit restrictions and letís not forget how the map looks. The map editor does its job really well as it will add a whole new level to the game and also add even more replay value.
Graphics are always an important issue for a PC game, if not for the fact the console world has caught up so fast in terms of graphics capability. Age of Mythology doesnít have the best graphics youíll ever see, but what you will see are graphics that are smooth, easy on the eye and fit into the games environment with relative ease. The graphics of the buildings are good and so to are those of the units. The intro cinematic for the levels in campaign mode do leave a little to be desired but if you can look past that you will soon see graphics that overall, are very good.
Music in a game is important to me and it is good to say that Age of Mythology doesnít disappoint. Thereís plenty of tracks on offer and youíll pretty much never have the same one repeated only a few minutes after it last stopped. Overall the audio is excellent, especially the sound affects, which are pleasant to listen to and also distinct enough so that within a few games youíll soon be recognising the roar of the Namean Lion charging at your walls.
Over all itís an excellent game and well worth checking out, fan of the genre or not. It has tons of replay value through the multiplayer side of things and with the ability to create your own maps you may find yourself playing Age of Mythology for quite some time. If you havenít already done so definitely get hold of a copy of this game, you wonít regret it.