Well, Age of Empires needs no explanation when it comes to delivering a top-notch Strategy game. It is a Long running series that debuted in 1997 and with Ensemble Studios behind them,it has truly stood out on its own.
Age of Empires 3: Complete Edition(2 expansions included) is the third game in the series and well, it continues the trend - A highly enjoyable game and an instant classic!
Lets break it down :
The original(AOE 3) allows you to take the role of one of the eight Colonial Nations- Spanish,British,French,Portuguese,Dutch,Russians,Germans,Ottomans -and control your own army against those of the enemies and also allows you to build your own Empire from the ground up. The Lenght of the Campaign is Pretty long and catogerised into 3 stories.They are all tied together but played through a different character's point of view. The campaign is interesting and the challenge engaging. With spectacular battle sequences, new-comers along with old wardogs are in for a deep and rich experience. The 2 expansions are what makes this a complete pack.
Each with its own campaign and new Nations. Believe me, they are worth your every penny!
Now, the first pack - The Warchiefs, allows the player to control 3 new civilizations, The Iroquois, Sioux and the well known Aztecs. Assuming they are after all tribes and would be pretty much similar, you are mistaken. The fact that at times they are really difficult to differentiate in the heat of battle, they are quite different. Each having its own campaign so you never feel corenered. Its always nice to have this amidst the so-similar Western nations.The tribes have completely different units, buildings, Economies and above all, they Feel different.
Ensemble have spent quite alot of time aquiring information on each tribe so as to implement them in the game and not feel like Clones. No two units are the same(a big plus in my book) and because they are fueled with different options, you strategically move forward hence, you never play alike with the other tribe. One major defect though is that the Wonders - the Special buildings of power -are not implemented here. Can't deny their decision since they were no famous buildings in tribal times to begin with! but still.....
The second pack - The Asian Dynasties(Yea, my favourite and it has nothing to do with me being Asian :D) is better of the two. Not just in looks but in Gameplay as well. The major diference being is that they are not related in their bloodline like the Tribes were. Here, The Japenese are as different from the Indians as the Indians are from the Chinese and boy.. are they! That only spells good for us gamers. We get to play very different
civilations that really look different and play very differently to the rest! Plus, each has its own campaign which are engaging enough to keep you tagged along till the end though the voice acting could have been better a notch better. Most importantly, The amazing Wonders- the special buildings that give amazing powers/effects to your faction -are introduced. Yup, they make way with The Great Agra Gate, The japanese Golden Pavilion and The Chinese Confucian Academy to name a few. And boy are they fun. A Wonder really makes you feel you have advanced to a new age rather than just clicking an icon in the original.
The varied units have different stats and they show when a accummulate different variety of soldiers into an army and see them tear through the enemy defence with a smirk on your face. Strategy counts though. Take a battalion of Janissaries(infantry) against a no. of Cannons lined up at the enemies fort and you are destines to be doomed.But take a group of Mercenary horsemen(s) and you could well break them apart.You'l know when you play it. Makes this expansion that much more exhilarating.
The gameplay itself is pretty much the same. You start with a town, you build, spawn soldiers, attack the enemy. Each faction has a home city clicking upon which will represesnt a different screen, you can then request for reinforcements and get them deployed to your desired building. It shows Ensemble's focus on improving Trading. A strategy that can help a city in its plea for help or another strenghten its grip over the battle. That's always been the way it's meant to be played. This one too is just as fun as the original. The 2 expansions bring added strategies to play with against the others. Imagine a horde of Indian Mahuts against a legion of Imperial Cannons! A sight to see. The Artificial Intelligence plays according to your choosing. They can be as easy as taking a candy from a baby on Easy or as tough as catching a runaway chicken on Hard :p But it seems rather strange that i find it easier to beat my opponents on Harder than on Hard!? Anyway,The Warchiefs' units are indeed different as they specialize in long-range attacks as compared to The Asian Dynasties' deadly close-range combat. Just goes to show Ensemble haven't done this just to bring out an after sales DLC but to support gamers with an enriching expansion pack that plays to its strenghts and improves the overall quality of the product.
Online mode, which is still pretty popular despite the game being 7 years old in the world of PC gaming. But Online does lag if you don't have a good graphics card, it is never quite balanced, battles can come down to luck(most of the times) and lack of unit variety in battles here shows.
The first thing you'l notice is well....uh....nothing. As u know, it resembles everything the original was. It might turn off some gamers expecting something new or extra in this one. Oh well... And the voice acting in the campaign mode is dull and starts annoying you after a point. The campaign while pretty interesting if followed will otherwise bore quite a few players into the skirmish mode. Other than that, there are a few annoying graphical bugs that pop up here and there.The online mode still doesn't strike the right chords and is imperfect. Yet, i can still look past them because you just just won't let go.
Final thoughts :
Age of Empires III is still a classic game like its predecessors and the complete collection bundles it all together for a must-have PC game. An occasional bug can cause irritation and wont add much to the game, but all 3 games are varied and thoroughly enjoyable for any AOE fan. In the end, this is one game; a strategic genre fan cannot miss.. Long-live Ensemble Studios!