*Note: I have very little time played on my Steam version of this game, but have played around 80 - 100 hours on the disc version.*
Age of Empires III incorporates an awesome New England settings rendered in amazing graphics. The combat is more intense, more diverse, and much more realistic than that of the original two Age of Empires games, which were already great. The interface has been updated and greatly improved (only three resources allow for a smoother process of building and running your civilation).
The game has many great new features, including:
-use of a "home city", a city you customize and level up through battle, that serves as your main menu and gives rewards
-ability to train troops in groups of five, instead of individually
-random capturable treasures scattered around the map that give unique bonuses
-more realistic battle (soldiers burn buildings instead of hit them, cannonballs knock down trees, ships sink, etc)
-awesome revamped naval combat. Limited fleet size allow more tactical fighting strategies
-unit special abilities. these vary greatly, providing a single powerful shot, treasure gaurdian taming, stealth, etc.
-ability to build trade posts to ally with native americans, providing unique/powerful upgrades and native units
-use of limited and highly-profitable trade posts along a railroad, which are visciously fought over
-unique use of ability cards, picked outside of battle, and used during game for special advantages
-highly diverse wild animals to fight, hunt, and tame. Tamable ones includes wolves, coyotes, bears, cougars, and more.
-interesting and useful incorporation of time-period features, including minute-men, trains, native allies, and more.
-addition of artillery units (various cannons) that add a unique element to combat
-(with Asian Dynasties expansion) ability to play as one of three native American tribes (Sioux, Aztec, and one other)
Things I do not like about this game:
-population size still limited to 200 units
-artillery is a bit overpowered (specifically anti-infantry artillery, though it is more realistic that way)
In short, if you are a fan of the original two AoE games, love historical time period-set war games, like strategy combat, or just want to have some great fun on an amazingly underrated and easy-to-learn game, buy Age of Empires III now. And while you're at it, the expansions are great and well worth the money.
9.5/10 - Highly, highly recommended.