Age of Empires III

Age of Empires III

Infobox VG| title = Age of Empires III|

developer=Ensemble Studios
publisher=Microsoft Game Studios (PC), MacSoft (Mac)
designer=Bruce Shelley
series=Age of Empires
version=1.12 (1.0.4 on Mac OS X) [cite web|url=|title=Patch 1.12|accessdate=2007-09-08]
released=Vgrelease|NA=October 18, 2005|EU=November 4, 2005
genre=Real-time strategy
modes=Single player, MP over IPX, TCP/IP, Modem or Ensemble Studios Online 2 (ESO2). (Mac users must use the GameRanger matching service instead of ESO2).
ratings=BBFC: U


PEGI: 12+
platforms= Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X
media=CD, DVD
requirements=Windows XP, 1.4 GHz Processor that supports Streaming SIMD Extensions, 256 MB RAM, 64 MB video card capable of Hardware TnL, 2 GB free hard disk space (PC) [cite web|url=|title=System Requirements|publisher=Microsoft|accessdate=2006-11-26]
input=Keyboard and mouse

"Age of Empires III" (also called "AOE III") is a real-time strategy (RTS) game developed by Ensemble Studios and published by Microsoft Game Studios. Released on October 18, 2005 in North America, and on November 4 of the same year in Europe, it is the third title of the "Age of Empires series", and the sequel to "". The game portrays the European colonization of the Americas, between approximately AD 1500 and 1850. Eight European civilizations are playable.

"Age of Empires III" has made a number of innovations in the series, as well as the RTS genre, in particular with the addition of the Home City, which combines real-time strategy and role-playing game (RPG) features. Two expansion packs were released: the first, ', was released on October 17, 2006, and introduced three Native North American civilizations; the second, ', was released on October 23, 2007, and included three Asian civilizations.

"Age of Empires III" has sold over 2 million copies, as of May, 2008. As well as achieving favorable reviews, it has received a number of awards, including GameSpy's "Best RTS game of 2005", and was one of the best-selling games of 2005.cite web | url = | title = Two million copies sold | accessdate = 2007-10-14 | date = 2007-05-18 | publisher = Age Community] In 2007, "Age of Empires III" was the seventh best-selling computer game, with over 313,000 copies sold that year.cite web | url = | title = 2007 sales figures | date = 2008-01-25 | accessdate = 2008-01-31 | publisher = GameDaily]


"Age of Empires III" is mostly set in the New World during the colonial era, between approximately AD 1421 and 1850.cite web|title=Age of Empires III|author=Harrison Dent|publisher=Amazon|url=|accessdate=2007-04-22] In the style of previous titles of the series and genre, the game requires the player to develop a European nation's colony from a basic settlement to an empire, progressing through "Ages"—stages of technological development—and destroying the enemy base(s). There are two main branches to gameplay: the economy, characterized by the collection of resources, and production of civilian units—which usually gather resources; and the military which involves the production of military units, and the conflicts between armies of rival teams or factions.cite web|title=Macsoft announces Age of Empires III for Macintosh|publisher=Destineer Studios|url=|accessdate=2007-04-22]

A match consists of a conflict between two or more teams that race to develop a powerful nation by creating and upgrading units and buildings, with one eventually defeating the other through combat or resignation; the game ends when there is only one player or team left standing on the map. Along with these typical RTS features, a new addition is that the player may also ship troops, buildings, resources, and even improvements—such as military or economic bonuses—to aid them.cite web|title=Age of Empires III - Building the Home City|author=Allen Rausch|publisher=GameSpy|url=|accessdate=2007-04-22]

There are three modes of game play: story-based campaigns, single player skirmishes (conflicts between teams), and online multiplayer skirmishes. [Age of Empires III Manual, pp. 31-32 - 'Ways to Play Age of Empires III'.]

Single player skirmishes take place between human players and computer personalities, conforming to rules that are set up before the game. The map, AI skill level, and each player's resource gathering speed may be modified.


Multiplayer matches can be played through the bundled Ensemble Studios Online (ESO) utility included in the game or via a direct LAN or IP connection.

"Age of Empires III" includes a free multiplayer account on Ensemble Studios Online. Similar in function to Blizzard Entertainment's, ESO allows players to play matches and chat with other players. Each copy of the game supports one ESO account and one NAO account. A notable difference between other games is that in "Age of Empires III" the player is not required to restart the game, or visit a website in order to either sign up an account or play a game

On ESO, the player may establish Home Cities, as in single player, and is given the default military rank of Conscript. As the player defeats others in multiplayer battles, they can be promoted, gradually earning higher ranks, until the highest, Field Marshal, is achieved. This ranking system is based on a "power rating" systemcite web|title=Power Rating - How it Works |publisher=Ensemble Studios|url=|accessdate=2007-04-22] that determines rank based on the difficulty of matches and activity in the game; for instance, more points are awarded for beating a player with a higher-level Home City than the victor. Likewise, more points are deducted for losing to a player with a lower rank. Access to some games can be restricted through the use of the ranking system. For example, in 'Quick Search' mode, the game will match you with a player whose rank is within the chosen range, relative to your rank.

ESO also supports the play of custom maps, originating several diverse game types such as "cats vs. mice", "fort wars", "gold rush", "pirates of the Caribbean", etc.Fact|date=April 2008


Players begin with a constructed town center or a wagon, an explorer and several settlers. The exact terrain of the map, position of opponents, native tribes and trade posts is obscured. Teammates, if any, are exposed, allowing you to see what they can, and vise-versa. Players explore the map and begin gathering resources (Food, Coin or Wood) which are spent to build additional units and buildings and to research upgrades or technologies. Actions such as training units, constructing buildings, killing enemy units etc earn the player experience points. At certain experience point thresholds, players earn shipment cards that may be turned in for shipments from the players Home City, which can include units, an upgrade, or resources. The game progresses like any RTS until one side resigns or is eliminated. Elimination occurs when all of a player's units and unit-producing structures are destroyed.


As in most RTS games, the player can advance through technological phases, which provide access to greater improvements, units, and buildings. In "Age of Empires III", these phases are called "Ages", and represent historical time periods. They are: the Discovery Age, which represents the discovery and exploration of the Americas by Europeans and allows the player to explore and develop their economy; the Colonial Age, which represents the European Expansion into the "New World" and unlocks early military units; the Fortress Age, which represents the fortification of the European colonies, unlocks forts, and allows the player to have a more complete military; the Industrial Age, which triggers a strong economy, due in part to factories—advanced buildings that automatically produce resources or artillery—and unlocks all units and shipments; and the Imperial Age, which unlocks all buildings and upgrades, and allows you to send unit and resource shipments a second time. All Ages cost food and coin to advance to, except the Colonial Age which costs only food. The price of age advancement is incremental, but doesn't vary between civilizations.

Similar to the "Age of Mythology" minor gods system, [cite web | url= | title=Minor Gods in Age of Mythology |accessdate=2007-02-05 | publisher=Microsoft] "Age of Empires III" utilizes a "Politician System" as a method of granting bonuses on a successful advancement to another age. When a player chooses to advance to the next age, they are given the choice of two or more "Politicians" that will provide the player with a different bonus upon choosing them. The Politician is given a generalized title from the period that usually reflects the bonus that it gives: for example, "The Naturalist" gives the player four cows. As the player's Home City increases in level, more politicians are unlocked—at a rate of one for every ten Home City levels—up to level 60.


"Age of Empires III" allows the player to play as eight different civilizations: [cite web|url=|title=Civilizations|publisher=Ensemble Studios|accessdate=2006-11-26] Spanish, British, French, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian, German, and Ottoman, in increasing order of difficulty. [Age of Empires III Manual, p. 21 - 'Choosing a civilization'.] Each of the eight civilizations has its own strengths and weaknesses and unique units available only to that civilization. Specific units for each civilization are designated Royal Guard units, receiving greater bonuses on the Guard upgrade in the Industrial Age, but at an increased price. The player can change the name of their Home City, the Explorer name, and is given a pre-named leader from part of the period (for example Napoleon Bonaparte for the French and Suleiman the Magnificent for the Ottoman Empire). Each civilization has unique shipments to aid its economy and military (for example, Germans have the only mercenary card available in the Colonial Age).

"Age of Empires III" was well received by critics and reviewers. The game received an average score of 86%, and is the seventy-first most popular personal computer game, according to Game Rankings.cite web | url = | title = Game Rankings Age of Empires III page | accessdate = 2007-10-14 | publisher = Game Rankings] "Age of Empires III" was listed as the eighth best-selling PC game of 2005,cite web | url = | title = Best selling PC games of 2005 | accessdate = 2007-10-14 | date = 2006-01-19 | publisher = Joystiq] and over two million copies of it had been sold by May 2007.

Reviewers had much to say about the new title in the "Age of Empires" franchise. GameSpot pointed out that "Age of Empires III has some very big shoes to fill,"cite web | url = | title = GameSpot review, page 3 | author = Greg Kasavin | accessdate = 2007-10-14 | date = 2005-10-14 | publisher = GameSpot] and GameSpy remarked that it "may not redefine real-time strategy gaming, but it sets the bar so high that we will be comparing games to this for years."cite web | url = | title = GameSpy review, page 3 | author = Dave "Fargo" Kosak | accessdate = 2007-10-14 | date = 2005-10-19 | publisher = GameSpy] IGN also commented on the game, saying "Age of Empires III is a superbly balanced and polished game," and that "Discounting a few niggles in the interface, the whole presentation is rock solid." Game Revolution complained that it is "as detailed as a history book, and about as much fun;" GameZone disagreed, and said it was "one purchase you will not come to regret."

The game's visuals were highly praised by all reviewers. In a preview, IGN said that "After seeing the screenshots, our jaws hit the floor at the amount of detail," [cite web | url = | title = 2005 strategy gaming preview | accessdate = 2007-10-14 | date = 2005-01-11 | publisher = IGN] while in their review, 1UP described it as "one of the most beautiful games you will put on your computer for the foreseeable future;" GameSpy agreed, stating, "Age III"'s graphics are unmatched in the strategy genre." GameSpot also admired the graphics, but had a negative comment as well; they said, "Were it not for the awkward unit behavior..."Age of Empires III" would look truly amazing." GameSpy awarded "Age of Empires III" the "Best Graphics" award at GameSpy's "Game of the Year 2005," mentioning that the graphics engine boasted "all the high-end technology you had normally find in first-person shooters." [cite web | url = | title = GameSpy's Game of the Year 2005, Best Graphics | accessdate = 2007-10-14 | publisher = GameSpy]

The in-game audio was also commented upon. GameZone praised the sound effects, saying that "you will feel the explosions of the cannon balls, the muskets firing their endless volleys, and the destruction of a building. It all sounds extremely realistic, and makes the game come that much more alive." Eurogamer briefly said "AoE3...sounds fantastic," while Game Revolution mentioned that "The ambient sounds, music and voice work all suit the colonial theme." However, IGN was not as impressed, saying that the sound was "Good enough...but does not stand out."

Reviewers were divided as to the single player campaign. GameSpot thought it was "standard for a real-time strategy game," but also complained that it had "less-than-stellar voice work and awkward cutscenes;" GameSpy agreed that "Age of Empires III's" campaign is not revolutionary, but thought that "the voice acting is great."cite web | url = | title = GameSpy review, page 2 | author = Dave "Fargo" Kosak | accessdate = 2007-10-15 | date = 2005-10-19 | publisher = GameSpy] IGN praised the campaign's story, in that it gave the player a "nice sense of purpose"; they thought "The 24-mission campaign is very well designed."cite web | url = | title = IGN review, page 1 | author = Steve Butts | accessdate = 2007-10-17 | date = 2005-10-14 | publisher = IGN] Eurogamer said the campaign lacked originality, in because though it was "well-written and imaginatively framed" it "offers exactly the same kind of challenges that RTS campaigns have been offering for years;" Game Revolution disliked the campaign more than the other reviewers. Comparing it to "Age of Empires II"'s campaign, they said: "The plot actually got worse. "Age of Empires III"...avoids all the interesting and prickly issues like genocide, epidemics and slavery, instead subbing in a wimpy tale of a family destined to protect the Holy Grail from a Satanic Cult."

"Age of Empires III's" multiplayer was highly lauded, and the home city was so as well. The topic of multiplayer was touched by GameZone, who said "this game demands multiplayer mode, and Ensemble Studios provided this for the players," while at 1UP, the reviewer said similarly that "Multiplayer support has been significantly upgraded with a slick interface, support for clans and a number of other useful features." VideoGamer stated: "The multiplayer mode is likely to entertain well beyond the campaign and will no doubt keep you busy;" GameSpy merged the topics of multiplayer and the home city, saying, "One nice side that, even if you get totally ass-whupped in a multiplayer game, you probably still earned a lot of experience to...develop your city." GameSpy commented on the home city as well, saying "the 'home city' system creates long-term depth and strategy."The only negative comment about the home city was made by EuroGamer: "Stop with the gifts!...You do not need to let me flick to a home city screen every few minutes so that I can select a free unit or resource windfall. I'm not some spoilt toddler that needs to be bribed with endless sweeties."

The game was presented with two awards by GameSpy in 2005: 'Real-time strategy game of the year' [cite web|url=|title=GameSpy RTS game of the year award|publisher=Gamespy|accessdate=2006-11-26] and 'Best Graphics'. [cite web|url=|title=GameSpy Best Graphics award|publisher=Gamespy|accessdate=2006-11-26] It was also given an 'honorable mention' in the 'Best Music' category. [cite web|url=|title=GameSpy honorable mention for 'Best Music'|publisher=GameSpy|accessdate=2006-11-26] GameSpy was highly praising of the game overall, giving it 5 stars in its review, [cite web|url=|title=Age of Empires III|publisher=GameSpy|accessdate=2006-06-22] which was particularly positive about the graphics and multiplayer experience. The game was named 5th best game of 2005 by GameSpy. [cite web|url=|title=GameSpy's Game of the Year 2006|publisher=GameSpy|accessdate=2007-06-22]

Other awards, [cite web|url=|title=Awards|publisher=Ensemble Studios|accessdate=2006-11-26] including an 'Outstanding' from GameZone, [cite web|url=|title=Age of Empires III Review|publisher=GameZone|accessdate=2006-11-26] reflect the positive critical reception of the game.

Yahoo!'s report [cite web|url=|title=Age of Empires III Review|publisher=Yahoo|accessdate=2006-11-26] had many positive features. They praised the effort put into the graphics and physics but maintained that these are essentially eye-candy. They were disappointed by the traditional economics-based strategy of the game and believed that this, coupled with the lack of useful formation and tactics, meant that the game does not stand up to other modern real-time strategy games. Eurogamer shared these final thoughts and described the new homecity shipments, along with all the treasures scattered around the map, as silly and childish ways of trying to complement the game's lack of strategy and tactical choices. Still, it recognized that Ensemble Studios was brave to implement "something quite different" from other real time strategy games, the homecity concept.

In December 2006, the Governor of Texas chose "Age of Empires III" as his "featured game of the month." [ [ Governor of Texas] . Featured Game. Retrieved on 2007-02-22] "Age of Empires III" was the 8th best-selling PC game of 2005 despite its late release, and has sold over 2 million copies to date. [cite web|url=|title=NPD shows retail drop for PC games in 2005|author=Simon Carless|publisher=Gamasutra, from statistics by NPD|accessdate=2007-06-22] cite web|url=|title=“Age of Empires III” Expands Into the Eastern World This Fall|author=Age Community Staff|publisher=Ensemble Studios|accessdate=2007-06-22]

See also

* Age of Empires


External links

* [ Age of Empires III Official Website]
* [ Age of Empires III Community site]
* [ Age of Empires III Unit Database]

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