If you haven't heard of Age of Empires, then say hello to one of the most iconic RTS franchises. With the release of Age of Empires 2 HD Edition, there's quite a bit to go around for fans of the franchise. But enough about that, how is Age of Empire 3?
Well it really depends on what you're after. Visually, it's still pretty freaking gorgeous, and it holds up quite well, though it does show its age a bit (what do you expect for an 9 year old game). the lighting effects are great, and the smoke and particle effects, especially the destructible debris that falls of buildings is a nice visual treat, and I remember how amazing it looked back in 2005, and to me it still looks great.
In terms of gameplay, it feels more in line with Age of Mythology, Ensemble's previous entry, rather than Age of Empires. From the way you choose a leader each age (mirrors choosing minor deities in Age of Mythology) to general UI layout and control schemes, AoE3 feels much like a spiritual successor to Age of Mythology, with a focus on historics rather than mythos.
Though with this iteration of the series, there are new, much needed improvements. Gone is the need for a drop off point for your workers; like the Atlantean race in AoM:TT (Age of Mythology: The Titans), your workers only need to mine from the resource to generate that resource. This makes macromangement considerably less fiddly.
Another change is how Caravans work in AoE3; instead of building a market, creating some caravans, and sending them to a Town Centre, there are now neutral Trading Posts that need to capture, which provide a steady steam of either Wood, Gold, Food or Experience. There are other neutral buildings the map, such as native settlements, or saloons which give you access to new units.
But by far the biggest addition to the series is the Home City. The Home City has a deck of shipment cards which can be sent to you during the game, depending on how many levels you gain through experience (gained by fighting, find treasure, building or from aforementioned trade caravans). The shipments can range from dozens of cavalry soldiers, supplies of wood/gold/food, to permanent improvements to military, defense, economy and so on. It can change how you play, and it's an interesting additon to the game.
The singleplayer in the Complete Collection offers up plenty of content, with about 8 campaigns, ranging from 15th/16th Century colonials to Battle at Little Bighorn, to the Indian Revolution, and even a little bit in Japan during the Sengoku period. It has plenty of nicely realised characters, interesting stories for each campaign, and enough content for each campaign so they don't feel short. This along with the 14 civilizations you can play in singleplayer (and multiplayer, though there isnt much of a population) skirmishes means plenty of content for your money's worth.
If you're new to the Age of Empires franchise or if you enjoyed Age of Mythology, then Age of Empires 3 will be a fun ride through some events through history. If you preferred Age of Empires 2, then you might not like Age of Empires 3 quite as much. For me though, its a hearty recommendation.