October 22, 2005

Age of Empires III

If anyone hasn't read any of my reviews before, it's best to take note that I am a hardcore gamer... meaning that I choose to play games that are more than just superficially entertaining. I enjoy playing games that take skill, intelligence, and talent... rarely do I play what the majority of the casual population play. That's neither the here nor now. I'm about to talk about Age of Empires III.

Strategy (10/35) - There isn't much to this game. Despite the depth it seems to hold, this is just a simplified version of a genre that used to uphold various aspects of something called strategy. The quickest player usually wins, not the most conniving, cunning, or resourceful. Efficiently manage resources, stay on the attack, and keep building and moving forward. That's all that needs to be done to win. I have to think more when shopping at the grocery store than when playing this game.

Gameplay (10/25) - A watered-down version of the previous Age of Empires games. It seems like there are more units, but they're all basically the same except for the names and how they look. Even the new concept with cards, it doesn't add anything unique if you want to beat another equally or better skilled player. The only times a player will use unique cards is when they know they're playing some chump, they'll want to use it just to see how good it is, and when they do, they'll be disappointed that it's not as useful as it would seem to be.

Balance (10/25) - Ah, being a Libra isn't that bad, but being Dutch sure is. At least for this game. Ensemble Studios has never been good at balancing anything except their checkbooks. Forget the different Civilizations for a minute, because if they ever get balanced, people will realize that they're all pretty much the same! Oh, and the cards should make up the difference... but 75% of them aren't worth using, and only the mercenary cards are interesting, but they're not worth getting when quantity is more important than quality!

Online (5/20) - ESO2, you would think it would be better than the original ESO, or even the Zone for those that are old enough. Think again. The interface is lousy, the usability is idiotic, and the matchmaking system hasn't been improved. There's lag, it's hard to get a 2v2 team game in Quick Search, filters are stupid, the server goes down a lot without any warning, and the list could literally go on forever. As I write this, players aren't even getting Home Cities levelled up after each game!

Overall Score 35% - Okay, maybe I'm being a little harsh. Maybe I don't like Ensemble Studios. Maybe they got lucky with the first two Age of Empires games and just hired a good marketing team to hype up the general population. Hell, all I've seen are good reviews one after the other. The only other review that I agree with is this one. And that person was pretty lenient. Anyways, don't mind me, I'm the minority in more ways than one. If you're dead set to get this game, you'll like it for being the casual kind of guy. For the hardcore in you though, you'll just end up turning all the video details to their lowest settings on a decently fast computer just to get better performance. Then it starts looking like the old Age of Empires games, but it just won't be the same.

October 17, 2005


This is the funniest shit I've read in a long time (Bantu rush discussion).

As for other news, come Tuesday, I will be writing strategy articles for AoE3, so I may be slowing down on RoN strats. However, there is WH_LordAOF's Bantu rush and some 1 City starts, so I won't fully stop for RoN until RoL comes out. Besides, there shouldn't be much strategy-wise for AoE3, but there'll be a lot of balance changes, therefore it'll seem like there's a lot of strategy, but not really.

October 16, 2005

2v2 Switch

As 2v2's go, they're fairly simple, and my previous analysis about them are mentioned in my Team Concepts article.

A good practice towards team playing, however, is practicing the Switch. All it means is each teammate bringing over a Citizen to build military buildings and attack each other's opponent. There are a few reasons why this is an advantage:
  1. One of the opponents will think they are getting doubled. In actually, that is not the case. If they relay to their teammate that they may, or are, getting doubled, this forces their teammate to attack, thinking their opponent is defenseless... so rarely will anyone boom.
  2. If done correctly, with one switch player Ancient Age rushing and the other player Classical Age raiding, it protects both players from being raided, most particularly the player that is raiding.

The showcase game for this article is where WH_LordAOF and I play yae and ROSA_Kashmir on Old World. Watch the game here.

When watching the game, note that my slow Roman Ancient Age rush fails against the Persians. It was too slow to work anyway, but this forced WH_LordAOF's opponent from not being able to raid him. FA's to stop a rush = not enough resources for HA's to raid.

This means WH_LordAOF can keep raiding my opponent without any risk of being raided or attacked by his opponent, and if my opponent raided him, it would take a much longer time to get to him to do as much damage as LordAOF could. An option which we did not do in the game was to double either player. We could have easily helped each other out, but with our economy never getting hurt, it didn't matter too much.