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Age of Empires 3: The WarChiefs Review
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|
Much of my experience with the American Wild West comes from watching Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain. While I was a little unsure as to why everyone would refer to this particular region as the *wild* west, after watching the movie, things suddenly became clear. They were wild all right. Wild with passion for each other. In itself, that is not too bad I guess. I try to refrain from being too judgmental. What I don't get, however, is how in the hell did the Indians lose to a bunch of cowboy-hat-wearing fags? To this day, the Indian genocide remains a mystery to me. Maybe the Indians did it to themselves? "It's better to walk in the spirit world than to spend time hugging another man's shirt and crying." Looking at it like that, I'd probably scalp myself too.
Whoever crosses the finish line first, gets a carrot.
Heavy cannon for the win! Literally.
On the other hand, it seems that there are people out there who will tell you there are alternative sources to learning the history of the new continent. While being just a video game still (so hardly historically accurate by any standards), Ensemble's expansion pack to Age of Empires III, Warchiefs, does offer a very intriguing and atmospheric reconstruction of that period of the American history.
Unlike what we saw in the original game, Warchiefs relies even less on myths and fantasy elements and instead tries to work with the whole "Last of the Mohicans" theme (you know that movie starring Daniel Day-Lewis; you are probably too young to know about the book).
The game once again follows the lives of several generations of the Black family and recounts their contribution to the birth of the nation, while managing to semi-successfully dodge the most controversial bits surrounding the whole Indian "issue," as I really don't know how to call it (I am European you know).
At the same time, Warchiefs successfully intertwines the Native American civilizations with the European colonist units and structures as seen in the original. In Warchiefs, you can play with one of three new civilizations - Aztec, Iroquois, or Sioux - each with unique units, buildings and abilities. Sadly, however, the Aztec are only playable in multiplayer mode.
The good news about the expansion is that the designers have done an excellent job on the missions. Warchiefs is definitely harder than the original game. But when I say harder, I don't mean it in the sense that enemy units will simply spawn more. The way that the missions in the expansion have been conceived requires players to pay close attention to the objectives and take a strategic approach to each of the assignments. The challenge is in keeping the focus while playing, as simply sitting back and producing units will not get the job done.
Another good thing is that the story, while somewhat more down-to-earth and mundane than in the original retains most of its qualities. Excellent voice acting helps greatly in creating the right kind of atmosphere, so those of you who enjoyed the narrative in Age of Empires III will likely be intrigued with Warchiefs' story.
The single-player campaign is extremely lengthy for an expansion pack. You'll be getting your money's worth in every way. It took me hours just to get to the second act. Really nice job by Ensemble to offer this much quality content for their fans.
Of course, if single-player gaming is not your forte you can always jump in a few online matches. The addition of the new Native American civilizations does allow for a certain number of new strategies. I love for example how the Forest Prowlers are able to stealth (just like Night Elves in Warcraft III), and if used properly the Fire Pit can turn the tide of battle. Essentially, the Fire Pit is an entirely new Native American, building; the more villagers you have dancing around the fire, the faster you will be able to produce military units, structures, or farm for resources (depending on which option you choose).
Warchief Wind Feather has bad back. He's old.
Meet Chayton Black. Chayton, meet AT readers.
Other than that, the Europeans get the Saloons where they can recruit mercenaries. The amount of new gameplay additions is very limited in the expansion. Warchiefs is mostly about more of the same (good thing mind you). As such, the expansion is very good and it certainly warrants a purchase; providing you liked Age of Empires III to begin with.
Technically, the code is very polished. The graphics have lost none of its beauty and the AI, while still marred with an odd quirk or two (like individual units going off to attack non-assigned targets), is by and large noticeably improved over the retail version of Age of Empires III.
In all, Warchiefs comes highly recommended from the AT crew. This is how expansion packs should be done.
Now it's back to watching Brokeback Mountain for me. I still need to see how that one ends. I hope he gets the girl... boy. Damn cowboys!
8.5 Very Good
Lots of new (quality) content;
Still an odd AI quirk here and there, not big on innovation, story a bit more mundane than in the original.
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