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E3 2002 Retrospective
May 28, 2002 | Sean Smith

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Get Off My Bridge!
Age of Mythology

Microsoft's Ensemble Studios made a big splash with their newly announced real-time strategy game, Age of Mythology. Microsoft, in fact, picked up the tab for the largest outdoor ad banner at the show, covering much of the top half of the LA Convention Center's towering South Hall. A little odd at E3, perhaps, considering that Age of Mythology is a PC, not Xbox, game. (Then again, the other large outdoor banner was for Doom III, also not a console game.)

I got a demo of Age of Mythology from one of the white polo-shirted Ensemble guys. Visuals and gameplay clearly show their roots in the Age of Empires series, but the game's updated 3D graphics are quite impressive, and historical accuracy has been cast to the winds of ancient mythology.

Players can choose one of three races: Greeks, Egyptians, and Norse, each of which has three major gods. By currying favor with its gods, a civilization can eventually invoke "god powers" against its enemies. Unlike in Age of Empires, each of a civilization's units is unique, as are its means to favor and the god powers available to it.

The Egyptians, for example, acquire favor by building monuments to their gods. They're good at stonework, too, so they make an excellent defensive civilization. If you like to wall up and sit tight while you build your army, then suddenly sweep across the map, the Egyptians are for you.

The Norse, on the other hand, build comparatively rickety fortifications and earn favor by fighting, so they can't sit tight. They have to test themselves continually in combat to build up their civilization.

In addition to each civilization's normal units, all of which are unique to that civilization, there are unique hero units as well, such as the Greek colossus, who towers above the battlefield.
Invoking god powers can be both spectacular and devastating: imagine being able to summon earthquakes and meteors against your enemies.

This game is nearly a sure bet (but still only a bet) for eventual publication by Destineer's Bold label. Strategy games, including Ensemble's Age of Empires and Age of Empires II, have historically done very well on the Mac, and Destineer, which brought the second game in the series to our platform, has an ongoing relationship with Microsoft to bring a number of their titles to the Mac.

Elite Force II

In development at Ritual Entertainment, who brought us Sin and Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2, Elite Force II features the Hazard Team from Star Trek: Voyager — Elite Force, but this time on the U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701-D.

According to Ritual's Director of Oppression, Benson Russell (yes, that's the title on his business card), they have taken the Quake III engine and enhanced it with their own Uber Toolset, which adds level scripting, skeletal animation, and outdoor terrains. In fact, they're using Uber for the outdoor levels in Elite Force II, rather than the terrain engine id developed for Quake III: Team Arena.

Levels and models are detailed and impressive looking. This is one game I'm looking forward to playing.


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