February 23, 2019
Archives  Previews  Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties  

Strategy & War
Release Date
August 2008

Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties
July 30, 2008 | Michael Wuerthele

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The biggest gameplay change is how Wonders are handled. Wonders have more of a Civilization model of advantages, rather than advancing gameplay eras of play by the construction of them. Each Asian power has five wonders to build, granting enormous gameplay advantages on the building society. Wonders take an amazing commitment of resources and manpower in The Asian Dynasties, to the effort to construct them shouldnít be disregarded. Likewise, if you commit too much, it leaves you open for attack or a prolonged conflict with your neighbors, so as in all things, itís like juggling flaming chainsaws. One wrong move, and your bits are on fire and all over the place.

Back in the not too distant day, I did the Warchiefs review here at IMG. Warchiefs was an interesting expansion pack. While it did add new factions to play, the European powers had to have some tweaking to balance gameplay out. Not so in The Asian Dynasties. In fact, the early game seems biased slightly against the European powers, but not so horribly that itís not fun to play the Europeans anymore. Reading between the lines here, thereís nothing in this expansion that changes how the European powers play. This isnít a problem, I donít think, as the variety of the new powers offsets that. Playing an Asian power is different than playing a Native power which is different than playing a European power. This is how it should be.

Age of Empires III was praised for itís graphic engine. With an integrated physics engine, it goes much further than the wargame paradigm of military unit gets blasted, unit has brief animation, and fades away. If thereís a criticism for Age of Empires IIIís core engine is that the European powers are earthy-colored. Greys and browns are the order of the day. Big Huge punched up the Asian Dynasties. Glorious reds, yellows, dynamic colors dot the battlefields now, adding a nice bit of color and drama to the carnage. Acoustically, Thereís not a lot of new music, but the music thatís been added is appropriate. Voice acting is up the same level as in Age of Empires III and Warchiefs, and Iíll let you interpret that statement how you will.

At itís core, Age of Empires III is a fiddly game. Tweak the economy, tweak production, tweak your card deck for maximum efficiency. Iím not sure if the single biggest change in the game for the Asian powers helps or hurts this factor of the game. Most of the cards in the game can be drawn and used twice, if desired. In my experience, it made me grind my mental gears a bit more when thinking strategically, which it was doing pretty heavily anyhow. This one single change may push some people out as itís an additional layer of mental gymnastics required to squeeze maximum production, military might, or wealth out of your home city. Some people just donít like tweaking, and enough may be enough. It didnít drive me out, but if the constant fiddling isnít for you, then Asian Dynasties certainly wonít fix that.

When I read that Big Huge Games was going to do this expansion pack, I thought for sure it was going to become Rise of Nations. It didnít. The bottom line is this- if you own Age of Empires III and are itchy for more, then do get The Asian Dynasties. Tragically, it isnít a standalone, but with the relative age of Age of Empires, itís probably worth it to get both at the same time. You donít need Warchiefs to play Asian Dynasties, but you do need the core Age of Empires III package. A full review for Asian Dynasties is still in the future, but from where I sit with this pre-release development copy, it looks like the Age of Empires series is in for a long run on the Mac.

Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties
Publisher: MacSoft
Pre-order Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties at MacGameStore.com


Archives  Previews  Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties