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Age of Empires 3: The WarChiefs Preview
developer: Ensemble studios
PIV 1400, 256MB RAM, 2GB HDD, 64MB video card
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Oct 17, 06
|» All About Age of Empires 3: The WarChiefs on ActionTrip|
The Age of Empires series is still going strong. When the third installment in the series came out last year, no one was expecting the kind of commercial success that the game enjoyed. Although acclaimed by many critics, AoE III was not without its faults. Various bugs, a bulky interface that literally took up half the screen and minor path finding issues blemished an otherwise excellent impression of Ensemble's newest RTS. On the other hand, the game featured a very captivating story that followed the lives and deeds of the Black family through the ages, from their European roots, all the way to the new world and their fight against the colonialists. But the historical facet of the story was merely a cover for a fantasy plot based on myths and legends - probably the reason why so many RTS players enjoyed the game.
Around the world in 80 days.
Scalping comes later.
The lives of the Black family were intertwined with the faiths of the Native American people that lived on the land. The upcoming expansion pack, AoE III: Warchiefs builds on that relationship by letting the players command three Native American civilizations, each with their distinct units, buildings, and technologies.
First, there are the Iroquois. In the preview build that Microsoft sent us, they were the only playable civilization. In the single player campaign, I got to lead Nathaniel Black and his Native American brethren in their fight against the Mohawks and later, their efforts to chase off the British crown from the New Continent. Sadly, only the first act of the campaign was available, but that was enough to get the general impression of how the expansion will play.
Getting back to the Native American civilizations, the Sioux are a cavalry-centric civilization, with light and mobile units perfect for hit-and-run action. Interestingly, to reflect their nomadic lifestyle, the developers have decided that Sioux would start with maximum population and never have to build houses. I didn't get a chance to see this feature in action, but I would imagine it will have some sort of impact on the game tactics.
Finally, the Aztecs wield a powerful all-infantry army that is respectable in the early stages of the fight, but has tremendous potential in terms of tech tree advancements later on in the game.
Each of these civilizations will be led by Warchiefs. These units are interesting in the sense that, unlike the European Explorer, the Warchief will grow in power as the game progresses. And similar to the hero units in Warcraft III, the Warchiefs will have passive abilities that give nearby military units a boost. God knows that that kind of solution in an RTS games is far more effective and far less hassle for the player, letting you concentrate on the battle, rather than trying to click individually on hero unit abilities.
Much like in the original, the Native Americans will have their own version of the Home City, called the Tribal Council. The idea remains the same though. Your home city will provide economic and military shipments during campaigns.
Other features in the expansion include useful multiplayer stuff like Trade Monopoly where a player who owns more than half of the Trading Posts on a map can purchase a Trade Monopoly, as well as a Treaty option, a more institutionalized way for you and your buddy to agree not to attack each other during building phase.
The single player game will include 15 new scenarios, which tell the story of two new generations of the Black family.
The list of features ends with a Revolution. The Revolution option will be available on the original AoE III European civilizations only. Apparently, the Euros like to revolt more than the rest of the world - although South America as we know them would probably have a thing or two to say about that.
Instead of aging up on the Imperial Age, players can choose to revolt. This will turn all the settlers into militiamen. Civilizations that revolt will get their own Revolution Home City that only provides accessories required to rule with an iron fist: Militia, Gatling Guns, Iron-clad ships and unlimited Fort Wagons. Once a player has revolted, only his teammates will be allowed to revolt with him, while the rest of the world will go on developing into the Industrial Age. The downsides? There will be some in the long run, of course.
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