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Product: Age Of Mythology
Platform: PC
Company: Microsoft/Ensemble Studios
Website: http://www.microsoft.com/
Estimated Street Price: $44.95/29.99
Review By: Byron Hinson

The Features

Your Civilization has survived through the Ages of Empires and Kings. Now with Age of Mythology you'll engage your Human Civilization in the ultimate challenge against the gods, Mythological Creatures and Heroes of Ancient Mythology. Transport to a time when heroes did battle with monsters of legend, and the gods intervened in the affairs of mortal men.

Using familiar elements of classical mythology, Age of Mythology casts players as ancient Greeks, the Norse and Egyptians. Call upon the mighty powers of gods such as Zeus to rain down lightning bolts on unsuspecting enemies. Age of Mythology also incorporates Ensemble Studios' trademark features from previous Age of Empires games, including a compelling economic model, a massive army and battle system, unequaled artificial intelligence, random maps, intuitive gameplay and extreme attention to detail.

Wage war using human armies and diplomacy, progress through development ages, enhance military and economic performance with improvements, and manage economics through resource gathering and trade. Mythology enters the mix when players call upon the gods to act on their behalf or reinforce their armies with more than 20 mythological creatures.

Age of Mythology's 3-D engine delivers impressive graphical detail in a fully 3-D environment, including realistic terrain and lighting adjusted to produce the look of any time of day. In-game cinematics create a seamless, story-based and character-driven campaign. In addition, the game features incredible special effects with astonishing levels of detail, including fluid ocean waves, waterspouts, infernos, lava, tornadoes, earthquakes and smoke.

Installation, Settings and Loading Speeds

Review Quotes
"One of the main changes you will notice over the other Age Of Empires titles is the new 3D graphic engine, it makes a great difference to the game's looks but thankfully doesn't change the way the game is played."

Age Of Mythology shipped on 2 CD's but the installation doesn't really take long at all. The game also installs a new version of Microsoft XML which is used for the help menus in the game. There are a number of settings that can be changed in the game from resolutions and sound to adding footprints for your armies. The game doesn't take long to load up and the missions are pretty fast to load too, no worries about sitting around waiting for too long here.

Gameplay

If you have ever played Age Of Empires on the PC you will know what Age Of Mythology is going to be like, while graphically it has changed quite a bit, the same great gameplay is here. The main changes have been made in terms of refining features, and adding little tweaks to what was already an excellent title.

The basic premise of the game is almost identical to Age Of Empires. As one of the game heroes "Arkantos" you must build towns, gather all of the resources such as Gold, Wood and food to build up armies and weapons to defeat your enemies. The main change here is that while Age Of Empires dealt with a slightly more realistic side of history, Age Of Mythology, as the title suggests, switches to takes of mythological legend with the player taking control of Greek, Egyptian and Norse armies.

As mentioned earlier on, the single player game lets you take the part of Arkantos one of the leaders of Atlantis. The game begins with Arkantos having a rather worrying dream and then having to return home to save his home city of Troy from enemy armies. While I don't want to give too much of the story away, there are over 30 missions spanning the single player game with Arkantos soon leaving his home of Troy and traveling to the Nile and Scandanavia during the game. The improvements in the single player story over Age Of Empires are better than I expected, they help to make the story far more interesting and hold you to the game until you complete it, although I do admit that I was worried at first as it takes a few missions before the story really starts to heat up.

A few more differences over other real time strategy titles are that the game no longer requires you to basically kill everyone else on the map. Sometimes you are escorting people from one part of the map to another, or freeing prisoners and claiming ancient relics. Age of Mythology also incorporates god powers into the game, there are various different gods that you are under each has a special power than can only be used once during a mission such as healing a group of your men, this can really add some good strategy to the title.

The controls is the game are pretty simple, there are new additions to the Age series added, such as various banners that are at the top of the screen which help you sort out the groups you have made, nothing amazing mind you, but I can't count the number of times I have pressed the wrong number on my keyboard when trying to select a group to put into action during an attack because I felt my eyes couldn't leave the monitor.

The game doesn't end with just a single player game though, there are options for random maps via a skirmish mode, a pretty good editor and an excellent multiplayer side which I have played a number of times myself, it is very good and well worth trying out.

Review Quotes
"Using familiar elements of classical mythology, Age of Mythology casts players as ancient Greeks, the Norse and Egyptians. Call upon the mighty powers of gods such as Zeus to rain down lightning bolts on unsuspecting enemies"

Graphics & Sound

One of the main changes you will notice over the other Age Of Empires titles is the new 3D graphic engine, it makes a great difference to the game's looks but thankfully doesn't change the way the game is played. The closest game I can compare Age Of Mythology to is the equally excellent Warcraft 3 looks wise, while I don't think it quite matches Warcraft it does come very close. The animation of all the characters/troops in the game is excellent, and when you consider how many can be on the screen at one time it is quite an achievement.

Another nice touch is that, depending on who you are played as you get a different interface for each culture like Egyptian with a sandy effect. There is a lot of detail to the many characters in the game like the Cyclopses etc, each has different animations and little details that really make a difference. The only slight problem I have come across is some slow down when moving around the map, nothing major though and it doesn't happen all the time.

Final Comments

How It Grades
Controls: 92%
Gameplay: 92%
Presentation: 83%
Graphics: 81%
Multiplayer: 90%
Sound: 88%
Manual: 85%
Interface: 90%
Price/Value: 92%
Overall: 92%

I highly recommended getting Age Of Mythology, it will appeal to most real time strategy fans and fans of the original series. While there isn't a great deal of innovation over the old series, there are lots of little tweaks and improvements and the new 3D engine makes the game a lot better to look at.

Specs & Package
Overall Score 92%
Version Reviewed PC-CD Rom
Release Date Out Now
In The Box? 2 Age Of Mythology CD's
1 Set Of Instructions
The Good Points Improved Story Mode
Graphics Do The Job
Great Gameplay
The Bad Points Story slow at the beginning
Review System

AMD Athlon XP 2100
Asus A7V333 Motherboard
512MB DDR PC2100
Leadtek NvidiaGeForce 4 Ti 4600
Creative Labs Audigy Sound Card (OEM)
100 GB Western Digital Hard Drive 7200 RPM, 8mb Cache
Samsung 16x DVD-ROM
Mirai CD-RW (40x12x48x)
Creative Inspire 5.1 5300 Speakers

Widescreen Support N/A


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