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Age of Empires III

November 9th, 2005 · Posted by Skuds in Technology · No Comments · Technology

The other day I downloaded a demo of Age of Empires III, so I have spent the last few evenings playing with it, even though I only really downloaded it to see if my PC was capable of running it before forking out for the full version.

The answer has to be a qualified yes. It does work, but I don’t think I get the full benefit of it. The system spec calls for a 64Mb video card with hardware T&L and DirectX 9c amongst other things. My computer has a basic MX400 card. When I run the demo I get a dialogue box which says “Your computer is a bit crap, but do you want to go ahead and try anyway?” or words to that effect.

When I say yes the game does run OK, although all the graphics options are set to the lowest resolution and lowest level of detail. All the little extras which make everything more lifelike are turned off – like having characters leave footprints behind, shadows, etc. It all still looks impressive, but I know it should be even better.

I am a bit old-fashioned with games. I prefer Doom 2 to Doom 3 for example. I would quite happily play my old Carmageddon and Duke Nukem games if I could get them to run on Windows XP. Likewise I actually preferred the look and feel of Age of Empires 2 to Age of Mythology. Unfortunately, AoE3 is more of a development of Age of Mythology, but it still seems to be worth having.

The significant change from AoE2 (and Rise of Nations) is that this game seems to be all about North America instead of the whole world. There is still a choice of European cultures to to play as and against, but they are all colonists in America, and the Chinese, Koreans, Bantu etc. are missing from this one.

In spite of all this, the deciding factors which make this a game worth having for me are:

  • Its basically Cowboys & Indians, using the Age of Empires game engine
  • You can upgrade trading posts to stagecoach stops and then railroad stops and you get trains

Now I know it will at least work on my PC, Age of Empires III is going on my Christmas list, but I think I will have to consider getting a beefed up graphics card anyway. I might get matching his & hers GeForce FX5200 128Mb graphics cards too. Just in case.

Meanwhile, I am still waiting for Ensemble Studios to make a Middle Earth version of Age of Empires. They did it with Star Wars, so why not? (And if they stick to the AoE2 engine thats fine with me.)

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