Video Game Thoughts: Age of Mythology

Age of Mythology was a 2002 real-time strategy game by Ensemble Studios for the PC. This was a spin-off game of the Age of Empires series. A lot of times spin-offs don’t do very well. They make too many radical changes that fans of the series don’t like. That was not the case here. Age of Mythology was another quality game from Ensemble Studios. Unfortunately, Age of Mythology didn’t sell that well because the real-time strategy game genre was starting to stagnate. Too many similar games had been released. Players were just not buying the newer games, even if they were very original like Age of Mythology.

Anyways, Age of Mythology combined the historical Classical Age time period with Greek, Egyptian, and Norse mythology. There was the full set of units from the previous Age of Empires games, consisting of archers, knights, swordsmen, and siege weapons. Added to that were mythical gods, god powers, and mythical units (like Minotaurs). Mythical units were very expensive to make, so they never replaced the normal army units. Instead, they complemented the rest of the army. In a similar way, “god powers” complemented the available strategies in the game. They were best used at key points to give the player a leg up over the opponent.

These features were fun, but the campaign was the most improved feature. It featured thirty unique missions, full of great story, interesting characters, and fun game mechanics. The story was about the legendary Atlantis, how they lost the favor of Poseidon, and their hero’s quest to regain his favor. There were only two downsides to the campaign. First, it was a little too easy. I was never that great at this type of game, but the campaign was a cinch. There was a higher difficulty level, but it didn’t make much difference. Second was that there was only this one campaign in the game. The player did get to play as all of the races in this one campaign though. It wasn’t laid out as three campaigns, but it really was.

The skirmish mode also returned, but this time I didn’t play it as often. This was partly because the campaign was so good but also because there weren’t as many features in the skirmish mode as in previous games. They did have the random maps feature, but there were fewer map templates to choose from. There were also fewer victory types. The skirmish mode worked, but I never got into it much. This wasn’t so bad since the online multiplayer was greatly improved. I never got into online play though.

Age of Mythology was also the first game in the series to have 3D graphics. Players now had the ability to rotate the camera and zoom in or out. Almost all the cinematics in the game were now done in the game engine using the 3D graphics built-in to it. The graphics were good for their time, but not all that great compared to these days. This game came out during the transition between 2D and 3D graphics. The old 2D graphics style was outdated, but computers still weren’t powerful enough to do good 3D graphics. The graphics worked here, but they weren’t really impressive or anything.

The sad thing about this game was that it was the end of an era for the “Age” series. Ensemble Studios did come out with Age of Empires III, but it was a radical change in gameplay from the older games. I never even played it. Later, they made Age of Empires Online, which I did play for quite a while.

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