This review is a little lengthy, so if you just want to know why I recommend this game skip the Results and read from there.
Age of Empires III not only lives up, but pushes forward the great series that is Age of Empires. Most people compare it as being weaker than its predecessor Age of Empires II, but I find that these people tend to not see the greatness in this game. It seems in this Age of Empires the game became more realistic, in that the Colonial Era was a point in time when no longer were kingdoms limited in wealth by the amount of gold they could mine. Instead it brings in new Cash Crops, which allow each nation to produce Gold outside of traditional methods. Campaign:
This is a great game with an in-depth campaign that goes through the stories of a Scottish Explorer and his sons/daughters. The campaign is interesting and introduces different styles of gameplay from macro-managing to micro-managing with scavenging and hording. Definitely worth the play through, for Age of Empires III and Age of Empires III: War Chiefs. Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties is fun, but the campaign has nothing to do with either of the other two expansions. Gameplay:
Age of Empires III offers a brilliant combat system that no longer requires precise delegation of finite resources, but allows for macro-scale battle. Allowing some players to turtle and others to expand, depending on your gameplay you can grow or stay at home. Mining gold and gathering food will always garnish better results than farming gold and food. Not only can you focus different resource harvesting strategies, but you can also use different strategies in your combat choices. You can buy mercenaries which cost only gold, or even capture native towns and create tribal units. This can allow you to vary your tactics based on your environment as well as your team. Teams:
This game introduces new challenges with Teams that are complex and highly differentiated, unlike in the predecessors where each team essentially was the same as the last minus a few shifts in upgrade options and one special unit (plus two special upgrades). Age of Empires III and its two expansions offer a variety of teams which include peoples of Europe, Americas, and Asia. Age of Empires III includes the Spanish, British, French, Portuguese, Dutch, Germans, Russians, and Ottomans. Age of Empires III: War Chiefs then offer three more teams including The Aztecs, Sioux, and Iroquois. Finally Age of Empires III: Asian Dynasties adds an additional three teams the Indians, Chinese, and Japanese. Hints:
If you actually want to enjoy this game make sure you edit your cities in order to get all the cards, as earning all the cards takes more than one lifetime. I have owned all three of these games before they were on steam and I put over +300 hours into it still to not have one civilization at maximum level. Results:
If you enjoy real time strategy games, enjoy managing an economy, epic large battles, and don't like excessive micromanaging then this is the game for you. It offers brilliant combat with amazing scenery. The unit mapping is rather brilliant and the variety of maps keeps you constantly wanting to play more.
+Fun campaign with a rather interesting story (for a strategy game).
+High level of variability in teams
+Allowing for turtle or rushing player types
+Good difficulty curve in AI (allowing boosting resource harvest rates to find the best balance of difficulty)
+Each civilization is like a whole new game
+On map bonuses to give reasons for exploring and moving quick across the map.
+Brilliant strategy diversification with special tribal towns on each map type, and special mercenary units for each map.
+Many different types of gameplay which keep the skirmishes from seeming repetitive.
+Loads of cards to choose from allowing you to choose if you want to Turtle, Rush, or Support.
-Leveling civilizations is rather dull (just edit the text file)
-You cannot select your AI team members’ cards, which means they will just use resource cards, villagers, and soldiers (not team cards).
-Some civilizations seem unbalanced. (figure it out for yourself as we all have our views on this).
-Rather than producing names for the map choices they are named after states (which can be really hard to guess what type of map you will get if you're not familiar with US Geography).
-You can only have two teams in skirmish mode, which is really annoying if you used to like playing 2v2v2v2.
-You cannot have repeat civilizations; this means there is only one England per map.