Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties Review

How does that advice go? “If you can’t beat them, join them”? In the case of Big Huge Games and their Rise of Nations series, they created a nice competitor to Microsoft’s Age of Empires III franchise. But it looks like both sides worked things out, and Big Huge Games has teamed up with Microsoft to work on the latest Age of Empires III expansion, The Asian Dynasties.

The Asian Dynasties fits well into the AoE III line of games because it provides the familiar combat and city-building aspects while adding a few little tweaks, such as additional Wonders and more units. One of the new aspects is that your main character(s) is a Monk, instead of the Explorer or War Chief from the previous games. Along with possessing some cool skills, they can train additional units or another special skill. In general, they just seem more awesome than the other main characters from the previous titles.

Tthe new Wonders are pretty awe-inspiring, particularly in design and sheer size. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but they are gigantic. In some levels that only allow you a limited space, I couldn’t place more than one Wonder because there’s no room! Their included passive abilities and powers are also excellent.

Three new civilizations are at your disposal: India, China and Japan. While each offers different tactics, they feel like playing the old ones. Unfortunately, other than some new bells and whistles the expansion doesn’t offer anything new in the gameplay section. So AoE III fans may be feeling a bit letdown if they were thinking Big Huge Games was going to try something new.

In an example of some of the civilization changes, the Chinese civilization features only one building (called the War Academy) that creates all your military (land and cavalry), as opposed to all the other civilizations which require two separate buildings. And unlike all the other civilizations, the War Academy can’t build individual soldiers; the building packages them into different mini-armies. Beginning armies include 2-3 ranged infantry and maybe 2 pike men, but as you advance through ages, the armies become pretty sophisticated. I also have to mention that you can create and use ninjas!

The single-player campaign is pretty standard AoE III fanfare. You tend to control upcoming officers in some army, and then control some higher official during major battles. The combat, especially in the later levels, is exciting as always thanks to the great visuals and physics. Beforehand, you’ll be doing your usual resource gathering, which by today’s standards is getting a tad old. There are other RTS games that are not using resource gathering, and gamers seem to respond well to it.

Along with your usual resource gathering, The Asian Dynasties include a foreign ally as another new feature. During the game you’ll earn export, which is the 4th resource in addition to wood, food and gold. As you gain export, you can build a Foreign Consulate which will act as your communication between your ally. Say you ally with a European country — they can ship you cannons and ships for export.

The Asian Dynasties offers familiar AoE III gameplay with a few small new bells and whistles. The singleplayer campaign, has good story-telling, but will probably make AoE III fans feel a bit exhausted. Still, the visuals and physics hold up to today’s standards, and it does have a good campaign. If you’re an AoE III fan and were hoping for a lot of new things, you’ll be disappointed. However, if you come in expecting a few minor tweaks with small additions here and there, you’ll have a blast.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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