Ushers in a New Age of Mythology
Age of Empires surprised the gaming world and rose above the
ranks of other RTSs because of its acumen for blending historical accuracy with exciting
warfare in a solid gaming environment. At this years E3 the now legendary Bruce
Shelley introduced the long awaited sequel, Age of Mythology, which steps away from its
more historically based predecessors into a land shrouded in myth and legend. This
isnt your English classs mythologythis is full-press Jason and the
Argonauts hack and slash mayhem, and the results are sure to please both fans of the genre
and interested newcomers with a bent toward fantasy.
Available for play are nine civilizations operating within
Egyptian, Greek, or Norse mythology. The Greeks will be most recognizable to experienced
Age of Empires players. The Egyptians are monument builders who slowly construct mighty
stone edifices, while the Norse build weak structures quickly and spread across the land
like cancer, gathering gold hand over fist. Players can take their civilizations through
four distinct eras in a 36 scenario story in the single-player campaign or go online to
challenge the world.
The new 3-D technology brings a dynamic floating camera viewpoint
to this version, allowing players to pull in tight or zoom back for a broader view of the
action, as well as pan around the map. But dont worrythe graphical rendering
of units doesnt suffer from close scrutiny, and the 3-D engine still accommodates
large battles with multiple units. The animated cut scenes in the single-player campaign
tell a story that promises to be rich and heroic enough for Odysseus himself. The
cinematic models themselves are a little jerky in the current build, lacking the smooth
large-muscle transitions that bring a crouch into standing in more naturalistic movement.
But this is barely something to bemoanthe graphics are otherwise richly detailed,
and the enthusiastic voice acting is among the industrys finest. In game, military
units update on the screen as developments are made in weapons, shields, and armor.
sure to please, however, are new features of game play. Players still manage resources and
build infrastructure as they raise an army, but now they must curry the favor of the gods.
Different gods afford different bonuses, and these gods make available one of the
games most exciting new features: God powers. Up to four god powers are gained at
various points throughout the game, though each may be used only once. The awesome power
of the gods can literally smite a single enemy unit, no matter how powerful, or call down
a meteor shower, orin one of the games quirkier twistsmorph the enemy
army into pigs, which can then be slaughtered and added to your food stores. But be
careful about which gods favor you curry each affords different bonuses and
access to different god powers.
units are another feature to look forward to. For example, the Egyptians have the unique
unit Pharaoh, which can bless a building to increase its production efficiency and overall
strength. But a god power turns the Pharaoh into the Son of Osiris, a towering hulk of a
man-god who shoots lightning from his staff and can absorb loads of punishment. Other
unique units include Greek Minotaurs and Medusas or a mythological Norse dragon that can
drench the enemy in fire and then strike off to terrorize the villagers.
Look for the mayhem and mythology in stores around September of this year.