The Asian Home Cities are similar to those of previous empires, so while the cards are different, many of the effects are the same. Many cards offer additional troops or bonus abilities, while some have a few unique offerings. The Japanese, for instance, can call forth powerful Daimyo and Shogun units, powerful units in their own right, with the ability to train other units in the field.
The single-player campaign is solid, as is usual for an Age of Empires 3 outing. These missions are a bit more difficult than I remember previous campaigns, although I can also just chalk that up to rusty AoE skills. While only 15 missions long, the campaign does well in bringing players up to speed on the different Asian empires, preparing them for the heart of Age of Empires, the skirmish. Players will be thankful to learn that The Asian Dynasties starts non-campaign cities off at Level 10, giving a nice boost to get players past the early card-limited headaches. The skirmish maps are fun, although I didn’t get much of a chance to try my hand (and probably get clobbered) in the multiplayer arena.
Rounding things out, The Asian Dynasties looks and sounds great, and the Asian-style graphics are top-notch. The usual AoE polish is firmly in place, and all that familiar gameplay allows old fans to jump right back in and be running in no time. Unfortunately for me, all of this just felt a bit too familiar. For all the exciting new units, the new strategies of the Consulate and Wonders, and the spot-on Eastern feel, I just found myself getting a little tired of the Age of Empires 3 world. Fans of the series will have a blast here, and I’m sure the new content will heat up the multiplayer arenas for months to come. Still, for me at least, Age of Empires 3 is starting to lose its shine, and The Asian Dynasties didn’t really rekindle that flame I felt when I first played it a few years ago.
While a solid title and a good entry into the series, Age of Empires 3: The Asian Dynasties failed to rekindle my interest in Age of Empires 3. A good title for fans, but not worth it for those hoping for a reinvigoration of the series.
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