Genre: Real Time Strategy
Developer: Ensemble Studios
Release Date: September 30, 2003
Buy 'AGE OF MYTHOLOGY: The Titans': PC
I have to admit, Age of Mythology didn’t hit me as a compelling game right off. At the time that it came out the market was inundated with new RTS titles and I felt that most were just a little twist on other tried and true formulas. You could take the same basic game play that’s been around since Warcraft I and Command and Conquer and dress it up with different graphics and a new world with a different story and bingo, a new RTS is born every month. Each would add a thing or two to try and be different but most were not pushing the genre very far. And, if you already played through every RTS that blizzard and Westwood threw at you since the primordial pool, you were beginning to grow weary of most of the new offerings.
Some things set Age of Mythology apart. Graphically, it looked gorgeous. You could even boot it up to impress your friends. That’s saying a lot for an RTS. Some of the mythological unit’s movements where unique enough that is was fun to watch. But, for some reason it just didn’t seem to have enough of a different style of game play to pull me in. After a few missions in the single player campaign it felt like Age of Empires with some mythological beasts thrown in. The god powers were kind of nifty but most were not on a very large scale or didn’t last long enough for me. Don’t get me wrong, dropping a meteor storm on your opponent is satisfying, but those earth shaking powers were few and far between.
So What’s New?
So now we have an expansion pack promising a new race to play and a new single player campaign. So what’s so special about that?
The game adds the civilization Atlantis. There are a few things unique to the Atlanteans that make them a little more accessible to play. Probably the biggest difference is the resource method. They do not have to return to any building to drop off resources which is a time saver. The peons are more expensive to produce but they do make up for it in spades. This alone could force some players to be more defensive minded with their approach. Another interesting twist with the Atlanteans is the way they gain favor from the gods. They gain favor by expanding and building other town centers. Could this be a cue from the very successful and different resource model brought in to play from another great rts of 2003, Rise of Nations? Possibly. This works in nice juxtaposition with the expensive peons to keep players from digging in and going for a defense only strategy. Brilliant. The Atlanteans quickly became my personal favorite civilization to play because their resource method is very simple allowing me to concentrate on the finer things in life like obtaining enough favor to wreak havoc and use my god powers!
Of course along with the Atlanteans you have new major gods and god powers at your disposal. You also get a few new mythical beasts and abilities based on your choice of gods. The major gods include Kronos (Zeus' father), Oranos (Kronos' father), and Gaia (Oranos' wife). You also will choose from minor gods, just like the original, that support the major god. You also get to research special powers and abilities based on your choice of god service, again just like the original. So your asking yourself, doesn’t look like theirs much new here? Well, just start digging young man, literally!
Then, along came a Titan…
Ok, so what really makes this expansion leap up off the page for me is the Titans. There, I said it. I know it’s only one aspect of the game. I know it’s only after you dig for your Titan, much like building a wonder, that you get the Titan. I know it takes a while before you advance enough in your technology to even start to dig for your sweet little cuddly monster of devastation. But, I can’t help it, Titans rule! For some reason adding the Titan adds a whole new dimension of play that, for me is irresistible. Even though it is similar to constructing a wonder, wonders did nothing for me. “They won the game” you may say. Yes, but how much more fun to win by unleashing your semi-indestructible Titan on your opponent to trash his little city of fortune? Hmmmm?
The Titans adds some new dimensions to the original game and injects some much needed fun back into it. Isn’t that what a good expansion does for a game? For me the game has many more layers of strategy by adding the Atlanteans and the Titan. Oh yeah, and if you haven’t updated that old version, the Titans updates your game and does a lot of unit tweaks and balances that were much called for since Age was introduced a couple years ago.
The single player missions are just downright fun. The story progresses nicely and the map construction is well thought out. You usually have a variety of ways to go about completing your mission goals which lends it’s self to a more open ended style of play. I really enjoy that. That can certainly factor in some replay ability. If you just barely won the mission with one strategy, try it again with another, or up the level difficulty and try to get on with your bad self.
How long does it take complete the new single player campaign? I would say if you played in hard mode you could complete all the missions in around 10-15 hours. That is if you’re a seasoned RTS player. I have seen other reviews that say 10-15 hours and that certainly wouldn’t be true with the Titan setting. I noticed as I played in Titan mode the same single player missions would have god powers thrown on me that would reduce me to nothing if I wasn’t careful.
Multiplayer is as fun as ever. And, with the introduction of the Atlanteans and the Titans offers some new twists to the game play that should re-inject some of the fun the original had the first time you matched up with someone. Watch the hair on your neck raise when you see your opponent is digging up a Titan. Or, better yet watch him or her scramble when they see you are digging up a Titan. They will run around like a chicken with it’s head cut off looking for ways to stop the digging. It’s quite tense. The matchmaking service has been updated and seems to work without a hitch. I found opponents rather quickly. There didn’t seem to be any lag problem going through Ensembles matchmaking service that I noticed.
So is it Worth It
The answer is yes. I found Titans a very needed and worthy follow up to the original game. I played through the single player missions like a weasel on crack and couldn’t wait to get back at it when I left. I am always looking for a game that you have a hard time leaving and can’t wait to get back to. Titans certainly did it for me. The Atlanteans seem to be, by design, a little more accessible to newcomers as well. So, this could be a great game to start off on even if you didn’t play through the original Age of Mythology campaigns. Even more so as the Titans comes with it’s own tutorial for the Atlanteans.
Basically, if you have read through this entire article and are still interested, quit now and go buy it.
Score : 9.0/10