Age of Empires III

a game by Microsoft
Platform: PC
Rating: 7/10

Anytime a game hits its third full iteration, I expect a remarkable and enticing gameplay for starters. Having three chances to balance and polish the game should yield a robust experience for most of the game's aspects. Looking back at the Age of Empire series, there is a definite trend toward significant gameplay improvement and Age of Empires III keeps things moving in the same direction. Although the basic RTS gameplay elements are still represented, there are plenty new elements that make this a worthy addition to the Age of Empires series.

So, what's changed? First the time period. Now we're talking about the period of European expansion to the Americas up through the Industrial Age. New functions like the home city, which is your actual home city overseas, has been added to further integrate the time period. It allows shipments of materials or weapons to be sent periodically, infusing supplies into your struggling settlement. Not a bad addition as it keeps you from getting limited by a specific resource and allows the game to move forward. Another addition is the trade route that can be controlled for constant income. Personally, I'm not a fan of resource collecting in the least so these additions that help to reduce the need for micromanaging your cities are much appreciated. In addition, you can still build farms and other buildings that keep your peons busy without constantly telling them what to do.

There are many other improvements as well but two of the most noticeable are the AI and graphics. There is definitely more strategy used by the AI this time including more focused attacks instead of sending a few straggling units into hopeless battles. The graphics update is appreciated as well with more detailed and varied environments and unit animations.

Age of Empires III isn't revolutionizing the RTS genre, so keep that in mind. However, it does continue with its past success and offers new gameplay elements that compliment the primary ones. The graphical facelift doesn't hurt either and gives it a fresh, crisp feel. With 24 campaign missions and endless replaying online, unless you have an aversion to RTS games you'll want to give it a try.

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