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Release Date

Age of Mythology
November 3, 2003 | Richard Hallas

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Myth and legend
Age of Mythology puts you in charge of three basic civilizations: the Greeks, the Egyptians and the Norse. As with other similar games, the underlying aim is generally to build up and advance your settlements and troops, and do battle with opposing forces (though the goals in any particular game can vary quite widely). As time goes by and your prosperity increases you will be able to progress through ages, upgrade your buildings, create new structures, train new kinds of troops and generally have a more interesting time.

So the game doesn't make any major departures in terms of the basics of RTS gameplay, and anyone who has played Age of Empires should know what to do right away. As usual, it's necessary to accumulate resources in order to build structures and generate troops. It's common in RTS games for those resources to be food, gold, wood and ore; Age of Mythology, however, abandons the gathering of ore in order to accommodate a new resource type, divine favour. Being based in mythology, the game places a lot of emphasis on the divinities of the three cultures it represents, and by building temples and performing actions in reverence to your chosen gods, you acquire favour which is essential for generating mythical troops and building some of the more interesting structures.

Age of Mythology features a three-level approach to troop generation. All the common ground troops are there, of course, and in significant variety: you'll find the expected range of infantry units, archers, cavalry, scouts and peasants that you'd expect, each available in multiple variations and with upgrades available. But on top of all those, you've also got access to heroes and mythical creatures in the game. Regular troops generally have a tough time fighting the mythical creatures, which is where the heroes come in: they're very effective for dispatching the myth units, which you'll encounter in smaller numbers because they're much more expensive to generate than normal troops. But heroes are more precious still than the myth units, and come in limited numbers, so you'll need plenty of regular troops to protect them.

Exactly what myth units are available to you depends entirely on your choice of deity, which is why the concept of mythology is so important and well integrated in the game. Each culture, Greek, Egyptian and Norse, has three primary deities and will start off by worshipping one of them. Then, there are additionally nine minor deities per culture, and each time you advance an age, you will be offered a choice between two out of the three possible minor deities for that age: your choice of primary deity will determine which minor ones are available. You will be strictly limited to one primary and three minor deities to follow, though, as there are only four ages in the game (Archaic, Classical, Heroic and Mythical).

Whichever gods you choose, each will provide his or her own set of benefits to your culture, in three ways: certain of your regular troops may be enhanced by your choice of god; the god will determine which myth units are available; and the gods also provide special powers which you can use just once in any game. These are very varied and may be useful in battle or in resource production. For instance, the Egyptian god Ra has a special power of Rain, which makes all villagers gather food faster. The Greek goddess Hera has a Lightning Storm power which produces a devastating attack over your enemies within a certain area of the map.

Each god and associated myth units will have a profound influence on how the game plays, though, and since each troop type has its own set of advantages and disadvantages against opposing targets, the great variety makes for a very subtle set of game influences which you will need to be aware of in order to become an expert player.


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