|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Big Huge Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microsoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 23, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
When playing as the Chinese, you'll see another interesting twist. The majority of Combat units are trained at a single structure: the War Academy. Rather than training individuals units, players can only train groups of units at a time. These small banner armies usually consist of a few melee units in the front with ranged units in the back arranged in different combinations. Individual units from a group can be selected manually and grouped differently if you choose. The Chinese also have the highest population cap of the three new civilizations, allowing for massive numbers. Their monks have totally sweet kung-fu abilities as well.
Like China, the Indians can also quickly amass large armies. Their villagers cost wood instead of food and they receive a free villager with every home city shipment. The military might of India mainly lies in its use of a variety of camels and enormous elephant-based units to crush buildings, maim infantry, and menacingly thunder across the battlefield. It's awesome seeing them charge into an oncoming melee cluster of enemy units.
Wonders played a significant role in the first two Age of Empires games, but they were surprisingly absent in the third game. Fortunately, Big Huge Games brought them back by making them a requirement to advance your civilization to the different ages. Every civilization has a selection of its own wonders to choose from to provide advantages in economics or on the battlefield. The selection of which wonders to build plays a big part in Asian Dynasties, and in many cases it will determine which strategy you'll have to follow. Some Wonders allows temporary cease-fires, provide combat bonus, and spawn units, while others give economic advantages or allow for unit healing. Another excellent addition in this expansion is the consulate, which gives Asian civilizations the ability to form allegiances with European civilizations for numerous advantages. In exchange for export resources, players can recruit power mercenary units or obtain foreign technologies to tip the tide of the war.
Aside from three new campaigns consisting of 15 scenarios in total, Asian Dynasties incorporates a ton of new content in the form of civ-specific units and abilities, additional maps, new cards, multi-player gameplay modes, and the wonderful return of Wonders, among other perks. It still looks about the same, it plays roughly the same, and ultimately it's just more of the same quality Age of Empires gaming fans have come to enjoy, only with three expansive new Asian civilizations to explore.
CCC Freelance Writer