Microsoft Studios brengt je voor de eerste keer drie epische Age of Empires III-spellen in één monumentale verzameling.
Gebruikersrecensies: Erg positief (3,785 recensies)
Releasedatum: 15 sep 2009

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Age of Empires III: Complete Collection kopen

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Age of Empires Legacy Bundle Including The Forgotten kopen

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"Really great RTS game and in a complete package. Somewhat overpriced though so better wait for a sale on which it rarely goes."

Recente updates Alles weergeven (13)

2 april

Age of Empires April Wololo Wednesday Contest

Show off your Photoshop skills in this new edition of the Age of Empires monthly contest, Wololo Wednesday!

Full details at

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11 februari

Twitch Stream - 2/11

Age of Empires III fans, we're live with The Asian Dynasties multiplayer! Come watch and chat with us at or

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Over dit spel

Verdiep jezelf in de prijswinnende strategie-ervaring. Microsoft Studios brengt je voor de eerste keer drie epische Age of Empires III-spellen in één monumentale verzameling. Commandeer de machtige Europese machten die nieuwe gebieden willen verkennen in de New World; of ga naar het Oosten naar Azië en bepaal de uitkomst van zijn worstelingen voor de macht.

Systeemeisen

    • OS:Windows XP
    • Processor:Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2 GHz or AMD Athlon 64 X2 2.0 GHz
    • Memory:2 GB RAM
    • Graphics:64 MB NVIDIA GeForce 6800 or ATI Radeon X1300
    • DirectX®:dx90c
    • Hard Drive:12 GB HD space
Nuttige klantrecensies
276 van de 284 mensen (97%) vonden deze recensie nuttig
2 mensen vonden deze recensie grappig
46.3 uur in totaal
Geplaatst: 11 november 2014
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.
Was deze recensie nuttig? Ja Nee Grappig
247 van de 267 mensen (93%) vonden deze recensie nuttig
2 mensen vonden deze recensie grappig
469.1 uur in totaal
Geplaatst: 27 november 2014
A fine installation in the Age of Empires series that has a greater emphasis on combat as well as teaching you about things other than human resource management and medieval history lessons. Instead, you will gain a deep knowledge of zoology and learn how to beat up people and steal their stuff.

General:
>Zoology Lessons – Some things you will learn: Capybaras and tapirs live in Central and South America, Ibex, Saigas, and Marco Polo sheeps live in central Asia, Serows live in Japan and the rest of Asia.
>Japanese Daimyos can materialize samurai out of thin air.
>Shogun Tokugawa is a wizard that can open portals to other worlds and summon the likes of monks with clubs, shinobi that shoot grenades using their bows, and entire artillery companies.
>The original American Continental Marines were an army of Japanese Ronin Samurai mercenaries.
>If you throw a lot of torches into a building, it will not burn. However, it will break apart and then finally explode.
>Native American fire pit dances generate magic that they put to use in battle, putting Warcraft spellcasters to shame.
>Medicine men, surgeons, and priests all perform the same healing magic.
>Even standing near an idle monster truck could be lethal.
>Even before the creation of the United States, George Washington always knew he’d end up on both the quarter and the dollar bill.
>As an Asian power, you can ally with your enemy through the consulate… and still wage war with their forces with soldiers from their own home country.
>Chinese flamethrowers never burn anything, they just kill it and blow it up.
>The British employed the use of longbowmen well into the 1800s.
>Cuauhtemoc of the Aztecs is a cool guy; he has a blood fetish and refers to himself in third person.
>Queen Isabella so desperate, she’ll sleep with Cuauhtemoc
>Akbar of the Indians is worse than a fervent Jehovah’s Mormon as he constantly attempts to convert you to his religion (Hinduism) while beating him up. On the bright side, he can’t nuke you like Gandhi.
>Russian strelets are a gift from the Aztec blood gods.
>Russian strelets are equipped with large foam axes and airsoft muskets.
>Created an Iroquois home city called Toronto, named the warchief Rob Ford. He smoked crack, befriended blowgunners and blew up his own city.
>As another reviewer simply noted, you can beat up monkeys and steal their money.
>The Haitians hoped that their new ironclad warships would be their knights in shining armor. They turned out to be their morons in aluminum foil.
>The story of the original Thanksgiving is full of lies, propagated by the capitalist pigs in Washington. The true story goes as follows. In 1603, Shogun Tokugawa wanted to construct a new shogunate palace. He sent a group of Japanese pilgrims across the ocean. A few years later, they landed on Plymouth in New England, an excellent place for a new shogunate palace. There, they befriended a native scout and his pet intrepid scout turkey. Shortly thereafter, a group of allied Chinese pilgrims came ashore and set up shop alongside them. The Japanese and Chinese came together for a great turkey dinner. HOWEVER… The French and the Ottomans landed around the same time and did not take kindly to what they saw as encroachment upon their lands. A great war ensued in which the Chinese and Japanese ultimately prevailed. In the end, a great Thanksgiving feast was held in the new shogunate palace with Tokugawa as the host.

>SPECIAL EDIT: Indestructable outposts
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZbC69DS_D0

Civilizations:
>You can beat up the British and steal their tea.
>You can beat up the French and steal their military victories.
>You can beat up the Dutch and steal their tulips.
>You can beat up the Portuguese and steal their secret liquor.
>You can beat up the Spanish and steal their dogs.
>You can beat up the Germans and steal their beer.
>You can beat up the Ottoman Turks and steal their turkey.
>You can beat up the Russians and steal their vodka.
>You can beat up the Iroquois and steal Hiawatha’s poetry.
>You can beat up the Sioux and steal Gall’s gallbladder.
>You can beat up the Aztecs and steal their bottled blood.
>You can play as the Japanese and steal your allies’ food.
>You can beat up the Chinese and steal their many inventions and claim them as your own.
>You can beat up the Indians and steal their elephants and then beat up their sacred cows.

Campaigns:
The campaigns of the base game and The Warchiefs expansion provide an interesting story that follows the Blacks, a family of mostly brutal dark magic thieves. They can create entire armies and civilizations that a can appear and disappear within an hour. However, they end up being known and portrayed as heroes as they more often than not beat up bad guys and steal their stuff. The Asian Dynasties have similar stories but are completely unrelated to the Black Family.

Blood – As Morgan Black,
>Beat up the Ottomans and steal their cannons.
>Beat up pirates and steal their maps.
>Beat up the Spanish and steal their money.
>Beat up the Knight’s Templar and steal their water.

Ice – As John Black,
>Mock your uncle Stuart’s lack of masculinity despite the fact that he packs the most powerful right hook punch in the entire New World.
>Beat up the Cherokee and steal their cannons.
>Beat up the rogue British and steal back your damsel-in-distress girlfriend Nonahkee.
>Pursue a rogue British general across North America with a fleet of monster trucks.
>Finally, blow yourself up and prevent the Knight’s Templar from leading a Russian invasion of America.

Fire – As Nathaniel Black,
>Beat up the British and steal their colonies.
>Beat up the Hessians and steal back your damsel-in-distress mother Nonahkee.
>Win the Revolutionary War with giant stone busts of George Washington that crush and trample entire armies.
>Level the British forts at Yorktown with these colonial titans while they proclaim, “Check in your wallet. That’s me on the dollar bill.”

Steel – As Amelia Black,
>Beat up rival companies and steal their railroads.
>Beat up the Sioux and steal their land.
>Beat up the Knight’s Templar and steal their money.

Shadow – As Chayton Black,
>Beat up the Sioux again and steal their land.
>Beat up a Civil War veteran and steal his money.
>Beat up General George Armstrong Custer and steal his mullet.

(Asian Dynasties)
Japan – As General Kinchiro (Batman),
>Beat up Japanese daimyos and steal their land.
>Note: The Japanese can run mid-19th century steam trains in the early-17th century.

China – As Captain Huang,
>Beat up pirates, Indians, and Aztecs with your shirtless partner Lao Chen, and then completely cover up your presence.

India – As a sepoy named Nabir,
>Beat up your own countrymen and steal everything they have.
>Shoot your commanding officer’s bodyguard and just walk away.
>Beat up the British and steal their saltpeter.
>Beat up the British and steal back your elephants.

11/10. If you don’t have the money to buy this game, beat up someone and steal their money.
Was deze recensie nuttig? Ja Nee Grappig
36 van de 40 mensen (90%) vonden deze recensie nuttig
1 persoon vond deze recensie grappig
44.1 uur in totaal
Geplaatst: 16 november 2014
Well, a third part for Age of Empires. What to expect of it?

If you have never played the first two parts of AoE, here you'll get a little summary: Age of Empires I and II were defining new standards for the RTS-genre when they came out. Not as fast-paced as Starcraft or WarCraft, but with more strategical Depth and more focus on the organization of your camp and with a build-in history-part wich made the game even a little educational without decreasing the fun of the gameplay. You always could choose from many different cultures which had some units and technology in common, but some unique units and cultural advantages and disadvantages.

Now, what is different in AoE III?
First of all, after AoE I playing in antique times and AoE II playing in Medieval times up to the discovery of the new world, AoE III consequently plays in times of the colonization of America and the civil war. Like AoE I & II, AoE III contains many true historical events, locations and persons, but unlike both prequels, the main storyline of the campaigns is highly fictional so that it might be difficult to tell which events in the game truely happend and which are made up. The main storyline of the campaign is about a sect which tries to find and conquer the fountain of youth in the new world and a family which is bound by fate to stop them. On their journeys they encounter many historical persons like Georg Washington or Bolivar, but most of the game is about hunting down the sect. So the game is far less educational then the previous ones.

The second big difference is that the cultures do not longer have most techs and units in common but every nation has their own tech tree. Some things of course still are open to every culture but the differences between the cultures are far bigger then before. This isn't much of a problem because you can still tell the strengths and weaknesses of an unfimilar unit very fast, but it is more difficult then before to play a new nation.

And the there are the RPG-elements. Not only do you have imortal hero-units (like in Age of Mythology) which can only be knocked unconscious and stand up again if no more enemy units are around, you will also play random maps with a "hometown" which can level up between games and send you support if you collect enough experience by surviving a certain time, killing enemy units or building your camp. Although this may increase the motivation to play more random maps they removed the option to play a random culture, which I really loved in AoE I & II.

The AIs are weaker then in AoE II which is good for beginners but a little disappointing for more expert players. The balancing is also worse. There are some strategies to break the game. A pack of at least 20 osman heavy bombards, for example, is almost invincible. No AI-player ever was able to beat me if I got that far.

With the complete Collection, you will also get the two Add-Ons: The War Chiefs and Asian Dynasties.

The War Chiefs adds playable Native American Tribes (Without this Add-On they are only available as some sort of mercenaries if you build trading posts near their villages witch appear randomly on random maps). Although playing a native american culture is a very wellcome change and a challenge, it is clearly unbalanced. Those cultures are given many new and unique techniques like sending settlers to a totem and dance to do rites which give you advantages like faster ressources or stronger soldiers, they still desperatly lack heavy siege weaponary. Native american soldiers are only strong in large nummers and will have to attack early to not get overwhelmed by superior firepower of other nations.
The Add-On also adds two campaigns which complete the storyline of the original game campaign by filling gaps and finishing the somehow open story. The focus, of course, is more on the war of the native americans against the europeans and so it is no true surprise that you will have to face general Custer at wounded Knee. Still the two new campaigns are much more shallow...

The Asian Dynasties finally adds some civilizations from Asia like the Indians and the Chinese. The storyline of the new campaigns has nothing to do with the story of the original campaign. The Indian campaign for example takes place around the fight for independence in India and the chinese campaign describes the discovery of the american continent by a chinese admiral which might have taken place (or maybe not) long before Columbus was born.

Overall AoE III: Complete Collection is a decent RTS game with some unique features, but if you were a big fan of AoE I & II you might be disappointed because it is a really different game then what you are used to. Still it is worth a try.
If you have never played AoE I or II, but you like RTS games, you should definitly try this one.
Was deze recensie nuttig? Ja Nee Grappig
55 van de 74 mensen (74%) vonden deze recensie nuttig
2 mensen vonden deze recensie grappig
124.6 uur in totaal
Geplaatst: 26 december 2014
Super great game, I was so addicted that my wife left me, I played it on work so I lost my job. Now I have no income, my friends won't talk to me, and my wife moved to canada so I didn't have a bad influence on the children, my parents hate me every christmas I am all alone, All I have is Age of Empires during the holidays, but that's enough and I think it was worth it. I sometimes play for 36 hours straight, the next days I only lie in my bed, I haven't been outside for 2 years now, I order all my food, I now live on foodstamps. But it is a great game, so it was all worth it.
Was deze recensie nuttig? Ja Nee Grappig
23 van de 25 mensen (92%) vonden deze recensie nuttig
5.9 uur in totaal
Geplaatst: 28 december 2014
All the feels are comming back when i played this game 8 years ago . I loved it so much i have two copies cd and steam, you can not go wrong if you puchase this game

10/10
Was deze recensie nuttig? Ja Nee Grappig
19 van de 19 mensen (100%) vonden deze recensie nuttig
11.5 uur in totaal
Geplaatst: 18 maart
I am a big fan of the AOE series, and history. This game is brilliant, although the AI may be silly at times *cough, Napolean* it still has unique gameplay and good graphics, as well a Pretty decent uprgade system. I loved the fact that different units would take up a certain amount of population, e.g. A dragoon would take up 2 population where as the a musketeer would take up 1. There is a huge variety of map choices and with the Asian dynasties pack and The war cheifs DLC, the selection choices are endless, they vary from the Amazon River, The Andes, Anywhere in the US and even the Great silk road in Asia.

Best feature for me? The Expansion Packs were actually expansions that changed the game in multiple ways and added on to the complete/full base form of the game. normally DLC nowadays is required to get the full package of what the final product should've been. AoE3's Expansion Packs ARE NOT DLC. The Expansion Packs in AoE3 add on to the game content enough to make it feel like a different game within a game. The Expansion Packs aren't neccessary to fully enjoy Age of Empires III; however, having them improves upon the player experience greater.

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.
Was deze recensie nuttig? Ja Nee Grappig
19 van de 20 mensen (95%) vonden deze recensie nuttig
1 persoon vond deze recensie grappig
254.4 uur in totaal
Geplaatst: 15 november 2014
Long time AOE fan. This is my favorite of the series, because they took out so much of the tedious micro managing out of the game. The cards "shipments" is a fun aspect too. Awesome multiplayer. My fav. strategy game ever.
Was deze recensie nuttig? Ja Nee Grappig
18 van de 21 mensen (86%) vonden deze recensie nuttig
6.5 uur in totaal
Geplaatst: 6 december 2014
Age of Empires III: Complete Collection is a real-time strategy game from Ensemble Studios and published by to what now Microsoft Studios. It is a sequel to the Age of Empires franchise. Age of Empires III: Complete Collection also contains both expansion packs from Age of Empire III.

Age of Empires III saw many improvements and feature upgrades in term of gameplay while retaining the unique play of Age of Empires series. Many new features included are the new home city and card deck. Card deck allows you to call many abilities such as reinforcements of units, resources delivery, unique upgrades delivery and many more from home city to your new colony. Age of Empires III takes place in the new world of America. You will be seeing units such as the Musketeer, Dragoon, Minuteman and many cannons. Another new features added here is a trade post. Trade post can be built on trade routes or local tribes such as the Aztec to gain their allegiance and lets you train their unique units.

Graphics in Age of Empires III is definitely far better improved and upgraded than the previous Age of Empires, far better effects, models and textures, shaders, everything is beautiful and fully detailed in this game. Performance is also great, no issues that can ruin your play.

Seeing that many Microsoft games such as the Age of Empires II or Age of Mythology has been upgraded with Steamworks feature, Age of Empire III should see that support too, since this is the latest Age of Empire series.

Age of Empire III: Complete Collection is a great game to play, I recommend this.

Rating 9/10
Was deze recensie nuttig? Ja Nee Grappig
10 van de 10 mensen (100%) vonden deze recensie nuttig
16.1 uur in totaal
Geplaatst: 3 januari
A follow up to the 2'nd Age of Empires that everyone loved.

Among many this game is not so good, some things were simplified, such as gathering resources - now there are 3 instead of 4 of them and your villagers don't have to come back to the lumberjack or the city centre to store them.
Many smaller tweaks and adjustments, and of course a heavy focus on musket fights, artillery and the transition from Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution and father away into the 19'th Century.

It's a shame that there weren't any additional elements added to the Steam release of the game.
Controls being one of the more touchy ones. For instance, to change the hotkeys you need to manually go through each tab. There is also no Steam Cloud, but they did add Trading Cards so that's one interesting thing to look forward to.

This game is soon to have 10 years after it's release. But this edition is by far the best one yet. You get all the expansions. Working multiplayer with a community that still lives. And of course that same old strategy many remember and honor as "one of the best".

The modest presentation of it's ancestors passed away. I'd say that the magnificence of the soundtrack itself says a lot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EWfMfHlFck&list=PL37F10A7ECDC81CA0&index=9

A Musical score composed by Ensemble Studios musicians Stephen Rippy and Kevin McMullan.

If History is of any interest to you, if the New World conquests were something you're keen on. Buy this game, especially when on sale!
Was deze recensie nuttig? Ja Nee Grappig
11 van de 15 mensen (73%) vonden deze recensie nuttig
18.8 uur in totaal
Geplaatst: 14 november 2014
I loved this game on the disc version and it has been very well intergrated with steam! However I think it is a bit pricey for a game from 2009.
Was deze recensie nuttig? Ja Nee Grappig
6 van de 6 mensen (100%) vonden deze recensie nuttig
1 persoon vond deze recensie grappig
15.1 uur in totaal
Geplaatst: 22 december 2014
First played when I was 11, and here I am at 22 still playing. Really wish there was a workshop though.
Was deze recensie nuttig? Ja Nee Grappig
8 van de 10 mensen (80%) vonden deze recensie nuttig
1 persoon vond deze recensie grappig
119.2 uur in totaal
Geplaatst: 13 november 2014
Age of Empires 3 is a great game, in my opinion better then the previous titles.
Age of Empires 3 (especially the complete collection) provides with so many scenarios it makes my head spin, its geniunely challenging and the fact that I can spawn a Monster Truck in a game to murder my foes should be a testiment to the amazing game this is.
Buy this game, like, yesterday.
Was deze recensie nuttig? Ja Nee Grappig
10 van de 14 mensen (71%) vonden deze recensie nuttig
1 persoon vond deze recensie grappig
10.4 uur in totaal
Geplaatst: 16 november 2014
Horribly addicting
Was deze recensie nuttig? Ja Nee Grappig
5 van de 5 mensen (100%) vonden deze recensie nuttig
7.1 uur in totaal
Geplaatst: 28 december 2014
Awsome strategy game
Was deze recensie nuttig? Ja Nee Grappig
5 van de 5 mensen (100%) vonden deze recensie nuttig
45.0 uur in totaal
Geplaatst: 15 november 2014
the game have very nice and pretty Graphics even tho it is a bit old.
I find it one of the Best RTS games the only issue it will be boring playing campeigns or skirmish once u reach the skills to beat expert Ai. I can play vs 3 Expert Ai so no point in playing the game in solo mode. and in Online I get high latency due to most players are in usa etc.. so I advice this game for the solo players or who want to play lan with friends.

the 2 expansions are not worth the money unless they came in the bundle wich they did for me.
the good addition came in game vs old AOE II the fact u can level up and build cards that help u in the game. so it will take time till u reach the cap that will give u so much fun hours to play with
Was deze recensie nuttig? Ja Nee Grappig
6 van de 7 mensen (86%) vonden deze recensie nuttig
1 persoon vond deze recensie grappig
80.8 uur in totaal
Geplaatst: 21 januari
Age of Empires 3. An amazing RTS taking place in the "New World" during the colonial age. Great game play that keeps you entertained for hours, continuously coming back wanting more!

Pros:
-Great game play, keeping you entertained for hours.
-Has funny and entertaining cheats, like "tuck tuck tuck" which allows you to spawn in a huge monster truck. That will drive over anyone or anything, creating global havoc.
-Has a large supply of maps, each map making you have to adjust your strategic plans to win.
-You get all the DLC's, adds more to the game, civilizations, maps and more!

Cons:
-Dying online community and online support, servers can get high amounts of lag. Servers will go offline sometimes even for an entire day.
-Franchise has been disbanded, meaning no more support. No updates, no fixing current glitches.
-Population cap reaches only 200, meaning that your stuck fighting smaller battles.

I would purchase this game on sale, it's worth to get the game. Just not at full price.
Overall I will give an overall positive review: 8.3/10
Was deze recensie nuttig? Ja Nee Grappig
4 van de 4 mensen (100%) vonden deze recensie nuttig
4.5 uur in totaal
Geplaatst: 17 december 2014
Excellent game, a lot of depth behind every game and challenging AI. Playing with friend is a must.
Was deze recensie nuttig? Ja Nee Grappig
4 van de 4 mensen (100%) vonden deze recensie nuttig
7.7 uur in totaal
Geplaatst: 13 december 2014
Can roast the Crossbowmen with with china-made flamethrowers, need i say any more?
10/10, would roast again
Was deze recensie nuttig? Ja Nee Grappig
4 van de 4 mensen (100%) vonden deze recensie nuttig
1 persoon vond deze recensie grappig
3.2 uur in totaal
Geplaatst: 28 december 2014
AOE III is a great example of a game that was very good and (in my opinion) had lived up to is predecessor. And then Microsoft ♥♥♥♥ on Ensemble Studios and shut it down, very much abandoning the AOE series (And the F2P games don't count) The game has an intresting card system that could have been reworked, possibly with the decks being used in competetive while casual games would be very simmilar to how they were before.

8/10
Was deze recensie nuttig? Ja Nee Grappig
4 van de 4 mensen (100%) vonden deze recensie nuttig
21.8 uur in totaal
Geplaatst: 6 december 2014
It should be known by now that I've been a fan of the Age games from way back. There's just something about the historical nature of the games that appeals to me. To be fair, I think elves and space marines are neat too, but I think it's more exciting to explore the what ifs of real, historical situations. Though not quite as faithful to "reality" as some strategy games, the first two Age games offered us exciting sojourns into the worlds of "capital A" Ancient and Medieval strategy. The third title, Age of Mythology, proved that the mechanics were just as solid even if the historical inspiration was a little loose.

Now Ensemble is back on the history train with the third official Age of Empires game. Age of Empires III moves the action to the New World, letting players lead a variety of European nations from the Age of Discovery through the Industrial Age. Eight playable nations battle across a wide variety of geographies -- from the swamps of Florida to the snowy passes of the Rocky Mountains. Players can recruit different Native American tribes and seize control of various trade routes. Material and technological support will be offered by the player's home city back in Europe.

The 24-mission campaign is very well designed. Divided into three large acts, it tells the story of three generations of the Black family. First Morgan Black, a Knight of St. John races to the New World to stop the Spanish from seizing a powerful natural wonder. Next, Morgan's grandson John and his Native American allies find themselves in the Seven Year's War. The final act shows John's granddaughter Amelia as the head of a railroad company making their way west.

I won't spoil the particulars of the story here but a common quest and a common enemy unite all three acts. The connections aren't always clear at first, but the associations start to build as the game goes on. Putting the pieces together isn't terribly hard but it gives a nice sense of purpose to the whole game and keeps you invested in the action.

While we're talking about the game's story, it's refreshing to see a game that covers this era of warfare without referencing either Napoleon or the American Revolution. While both are fertile ground for strategy game developers, it's nice to get something a little different this time around. Meeting Washington and Bolivar and taking part in the Seven Year's War adds a little authenticity as well as variety. On the other hand, some of the choices -- like finding Russians in Colorado -- may leave gamers scratching their heads in wonder.

The range of missions is pretty broad. There are plenty of defense missions where you have to protect a given structure or a whole town from enemy assault. In other cases you'll have to destroy or capture key structures. Along the way there are plenty of other objectives: rescuing captured settlers, seizing trading posts, liberating Native American settlements and a whole host of other tasks. Better still, many missions combine a variety of these objectives at once. While most of the missions let you build a base and start collecting resources, there are some missions where you have to make do with a set number of troops.

Outside of the single player campaign, Age of Empires III benefits from a very soild multiplayer interface. A few simple clicks take you to ESO2, Ensemble's online matchmaking service. Finding and joining games is remarkably easy and there are a wide variety of options to choose from. Different starting eras and resource levels will let players jump into as advanced a game as they want. The AI offers up a few taunts from time to time to (sort of) replicate the personality of a human player. It's a nice trick honestly.

In general the AI is very strong. You can find some exploits here and there but, for the most part, the AI knows how to make a good army and how to lead it. While the computer opponents in some RTS games send out trickles of units from time to time in order to keep things interesting, the AI in Age of Empires III tends to rely more on groups of units and will hardly ever use them in pointless, suicide attacks. In my games the AI has had a good handle on when to press an attack and when to retreat. The only real weak point in the AI is its tendency to leave some of its settlers too isolated. (Since there are no resource dropsites anymore, it's also hard for human players to keep tabs on where all their settlers are.)

The range of technologies and units is relatively broad here. In the early ages, players will have to make do with troops that are very similar to the medieval set from Age of Empires II. Crossbows eventually give way to muskets as the ages pass by. Soon players will be fielding long lines of musketeers and using mortars to bombard enemy towers. While it may seem that some of the unit types are redundant, you'll find that each type has a specific role to play on the battlefield. Like the other Age games you'll have a variety of ranged and melee-focused cavalry and infantry as well as a nice range of artillery units. Identifying the counter units and building a balanced force is just as important as knowing where and when to strike the enemy.

Like the rest of the games in the Age series, the naval element is merely there to support the land battles. The handful of ships and maritime technologies don't offer many options. You will find that the naval side of the game is fairly compelling early on while you're dealing with pirates and chasing your enemies across the Atlantic. Once you start fighting in the interior of the American continent, you won't really miss the naval aspect of the game as much.

Pathfinding seems to be a bit of a problem here and there. Huge formations can easily find their way through the most densely packed settlements but my one hero unit can't seem to find his way out of the middle of a line of infantry. There are cases where the pathfinding is a little too good. Units are able to predict the best routes through a maze even when large parts of that maze haven't been uncovered yet. This is most telling during missions where you're leading a small force through a series of winding canyons. As long as you click on their eventual destination, they'll make their way through the labyrinth with nary a wrong turn.

While we're on the subject, it seems odd that you can't select a single unit out of a group by clicking on their portrait at the bottom of the screen. Trying to grab a specific hero unit out of a large formation should be easier than this. Luckily, there's an option in the game to disregard any non-combat units when you click and drag to select a group. This helps to keep your settlers from marching out with your soldiers.

Age of Empires III also introduces some new elements -- home cities, native tribes, trade routes and such. Taken individually none of these are profound innovations but their cumulative effect makes the game feel fresh and strengthens the appeal of the core design. So in total of this review, I recommend this game to anyone who loves RTS Games.
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