Age of Empires III - Collectors Edition PC Games and Downloads
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Age of Empires III - Collectors Edition Product Details
Released on 04/11/2005
Secure a Piece of History With the Age of Empires III Collector's Edition
- Includes 210-page Hardbound Art Book
- Making Of DVD
- Exclusive Player's Guide
- Soundtrack CD
- Poster and More
It's the ultimate prize for any Age of Empires fan: the Age of Empires III Collector's Edition is packed with premium extras that any Age fan would crave. Packaged in an oversized, beautifully embossed box, the Collector's Edition includes an impressive hardbound 210-page The Art of Empires book, a Making of Age of Empires III DVD with behind-the-scenes video and commentary, the official Age of Empires III soundtrack, a huge (43-in. x 27-in.) full-colour poster of concept art painted by Craig Mullins, an exclusive Age III Player's Guide, and a Collector's Edition Game Manual. Thisamazing collection, from Microsoft and Ensemble Studios, is the perfect reward for all those years Age fans have built and destroyed countless civilisations.
Age of Empires III is Ensemble Studios' landmark game of discovery and conquest in the New World, featuring spectacular graphics and physics never before seen in a real-time strategy (RTS) game. In Age of Empires III, players assume the role of a European power between 1500 and 1850 A.D. as they struggle to explore, colonise and conquer North and South America. Scheduled for release in November, Age of Empires II is the third installment in the award-winning Age of Empires series that has sold more than 16 million copies and defined the historical RTS. By introducing revolutionary new gameplay features like the Home City, the ability to ally with and produce Native American units, awe-inspiring visuals with a fully realised physics engine and more, Age of Empires III will expand upon the legacy of its predecessors and once again set the standard for real-time strategy games.
In this highly anticipated next installment in the Age of Empires franchise from Ensemble Studios, Age of Empires III places players in the time period of roughly 1500–1850, picking up where Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings left off. As players work to establish their empire, they will take on the role of a European power struggling to explore, colonize and conquer North and South America.
Age of Empires III introduces exciting new gameplay elements, including the all-new Home City and an incredible combat system. Players will find new civilizations to discover, random maps to conquer and a single-player campaign unlike any other. Players also will find stunning graphics as a result of a revolutionary graphics engine that pushes the limits of PC graphics technology in an entirely new way.
- Engage in epic strategic battles. As players control the action, they can experience a new level of exciting combat with realistic physics effects, and have the option of engaging in battle with blades, gunpowder or both. Victory depends on the player's strategic battle plan.
- Develop and strengthen a unique, customized Home City. The Home City represents a player's capital back in Europe and plays a supporting role in the attempt to control the New World. The better the player performs in the New World, the more powerful his Home City becomes. Players can customize their Home City to reflect unique personality traits, making the Home City a vital character in the game.
- Explore a vibrant New World. Players can take advantage of elements of the colonial time period, including the ability to ally with Native Americans. They also can explore and find new resources in the Amazon rain forest, recover buried treasure from Caribbean islands, hunt bison on the Great Plains, compete to establish trade routes, and fortify the coast of New England.
- Experience stunning graphics. Players will witness new lighting effects and shadows while immersed in a world that feels bright and sunny, yet which has a softness and depth that is revolutionary to PC games. Thanks to the new physics engine, players will never see the same scene twice.
- Discover culturally diverse civilizations. Gamers can play as the British and have a stellar economy, or play as the French and easily ally with Native Americans. They can choose to play as the Spanish and have more support from their home country in Europe. Players have the option of playing as one of eight civilizations and, whichever one is chosen, players are guaranteed a unique and fulfilling experience.
Iain gets closer to discovering a new age of strategy gaming.Real time strategy is arguably the genre that has changed the least since its birth with the original Dune back in 1992. Since then, the core gameplay mechanics have remained almost exactly the same. There have been a slew of new features adding new functionality and variety, but there have been very few outright overhauls since we first clicked a builder unit and placed a barracks. Ensemble Studios have never tried to completely rewrite the real time rulebook with their acclaimed Age of Empires series, but they've never been scared to take what we know and love, and give us...more. The first iteration took the standard tech tree and gave it more depth, more options and a very real sense of progression. The second furthered the military aspects of the game, with expanded tactical options giving the player more ways to annihilate their opponents. And this trend of evolution shows no signs of abating with the next instalment, Age of Empires III: Age of Discovery.
Set between 1500 and 1850, Age of Discovery tasks players with the conquest and colonisation of the New World, tracing the actions of a noble Maltese family through the generations. Upon entering the game, the first thing that strikes you is the visuals. The Age of Empires series has always looked good, but coming from the previous games nothing will prepare you for the simply breathtaking vista in store for you right on the menu screen. You'll marvel at the sight of sunlight glinting magically off the waves as they lap gently against the side of a ship moored at the dock. A dock that is alive with the assembled throng of sailors, merchants, playful children and possibly the occasional...*ahem* woman of negotiable repute. When you bear in mind that the scene just described takes up merely the bottom third of the screen, you can start to appreciate just how stunning this game is to look at. The cynical among us may say that it's just the menu screen and how hard can it be to make a menu screen look flashy, eh? But they're wrong; it isn't just the menu screen. This high standard of presentation permeates every aspect of the game, giving every inch of water the same sparkle and every unit on screen an equal amount of character.
Nothing will prepare you for the simply breathtaking vista in store for you
The opening screen isn't the only time you'll be able to gaze upon your glorious capital; in fact, you'll be seeing quite a lot of it as it forms one of the main additions to the game. All throughout the main campaign (24 scenarios spanning the entire timeframe of the game) and all skirmish games, you're backed up by your home city providing you with upgrades and bonuses using an XP (experience points) based system. For every successful action you complete during the mission you are rewarded with experience points, which obviously accumulate over time and can be spent on shipments from your home city.
Cards close to the chest
This is where we meet the next major addition, the deck of shipment cards. Shipments can take the form of extra units of a specific type, or a one-off delivery of a resource, or even a technology upgrade. They're represented in the home city screen as cards that can be chosen whenever you have accrued enough XP. There are over a hundred possible cards to be collected during the course of the game, but the deck that you take into a mission or skirmish can only contain a maximum of 20. Players are encouraged to build a wide selection of decks, to deal with every contingency.
This adds a new dimension to the strategy, as you not only have to consider how to battle your opponents on the frontlines, but what selection of upgrades will be of most use to you against that particular opponent, in that particular setting. For example, if you are planning on meeting your opponents in a naval battle on the high seas, a deck containing cavalry and infantry upgrades isn't going to help you as much as a deck containing hull and cannon upgrades. Your home city also has more passive benefits, with upgradeable buildings that provide your units in the field with remote upgrades.
A shower of dust and cow-chunks
As important as the home city is, the cut and thrust of your campaign is still executed in the classic Age of Empires style. You'll still have to collect food, wood and gold. You still have to build a variety of units to defend your settlement, and to force your opponents to defend theirs. But now you also have to establish trade routes, and befriend the natives as well, which provides a vital new resource stream and opens the door to new, specialised units. Achieving this involves building trading posts at set foundation points along a defined route (visible as a white line on the map) or in native settlements (also clearly marked on the map). From then on you will receive regular shipments of one of the four resources (XP, wood, food, and gold) which supplement your usual gathering activities nicely. As with almost all the other structures, a number of upgrades are available which increase the regularity of the shipments, turning the initial man-with-a-pushcart into a stage coach and then finally establishing a fully fledged rail link between trading posts.
The graphics engine responsible for the stunning home city also handles all the action in the missions, meaning that everything looks sublime. Adding to the visual splendour is another first for the genre, the use of the Havok physics engine on units and structures. Now if an infantry man gets in the way of a cannonball, you'll see him thrown backwards, bouncing off any terrain or buildings that happen to be in his path. Also it means that for the first time ever, buildings will show damage realistically, so if a cannonball strikes the corner of a house that corner will be blown out, and if it happens to be a load-bearing corner something may collapse above it. Coming from years of playing games of this ilk, and being accustomed to watching buildings display damage incrementally in predefined stages, it was a magical sight to see a round sail right through the chimney stack of a barn, only for the next salvo to demolish a wall bringing the structure down in a shower of dust and cow-chunks. Of course, there are other forms of combat other than the artillery barrage, and there's the usual multitude of units on offer with which to engage in bloody battle. And what bloody battles they are, while they may not exactly be revolutionary, they are certainly, as with everything in this game, extremely polished.
That seems to sum up the whole experience from what we've seen so far. This isn't an overhaul of the genre, and it's certainly not a revolution. It is however an excellently produced, lovingly developed real time strategy title from a team that is supremely confident in its ability to deliver the goods.
Preview by: Iain Thomas
Preview Published: 07.09.05
Age of Empires III: Age of Discovery … (07/09/2005)
Iain gets closer to discovering a new age of strategy gaming.Real time strategy is arguably the genre that has changed the …
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