Leave No Game Untouched’s Age of Empires 3: Asian Dynasties (PC) Review
Age of Empires debuted back in 1997, and has since then become one of the most defining games of it’s genre, rivalling WarCraft and StarCraft. It’s most recent addition, The Asian Dynasties, is an expansion pack to Age of Empires 3, released in 2005.
For this expansion, Ensemble Studios got some help from Big Huge Games, the company behind a similar RTS, Rise of Nations.
The Asian Dynasties adds 3 civilisations into the mix. Chinese, Japanese and Indian, Each having their own unique units and build strategies. The new campaigns, which focus on each of the new civilisations are fairly small (about 5 missions in each), but the cinematics in between are absolutely stunning.
The Japanese campaign focuses on Tokugawa and his effort to unify Japan. The Chinese campaign is more of a what-if story featuring a Chinese navy, discovering the New World before Christopher Columbus. The Indian campaign focuses on India under the control of the British East Company.
The new Asian units are awesome (my favourite is the Flamethrower), and have been balanced out so that players will still have to create mixed armies, instead of creating one-type armies. Some new Asian buildings include the Rice Paddy (a combination of the Mill and Plantation) and the Consulate. The Consulate is an important building as it allows the Asian Civilisations to spend Export generated by their villagers on European units.
The Home City is still an important aspect of The Asian Dynasties, but there are no new cards for European or Native civilisations, somewhat thinning down the replay value for players only interest in levelling up their European or Native Home Cities.
Wonders make a return in The Asian Dynasties, though have different effects than in previous games in the series. Instead of them being built at the last age, costing 1000 of each resource, and then creating a countdown to an instant victory once finished, The new Wonders can only be built by the Asian Civilisations, and one can be built per age. Each Wonder has its own special abilities as well, The Agra, for example allows the Indians to create Elite Units, that while cost a fair amount more than regular units, make up for it in spades with their stat upgrades. You’ll be able to build a wonder each age, and their effects will stay with you throughout the entire game until they are destroyed.
Lastly, Multiplayer has been greatly improved since The Warcheifs. New games types have been added such as King of the Hill (where each player must try to capture the Fort in the centre of the map and hold it for a designated amount of time), and ESO has been improved slightly, with Quick match Search improved to leave out Warchief civilisations if desired.
Overall, The Asian Dynasties is a good final addition to the Age of Empires series. Die-hard fans will enjoy the added campaigns, units and maps. But unless your gonna spend all your time playing online, it’s not a worthy investment if you’re just going to play as either the European or Warchief civilisations.
OVERALL SCORE: 7/10
Written by GamersLife (8/1/11)