Produced: Ensemble Studios
(now owned by Microsoft)
Genre: Real-Time Strategy
Release Date: Mid-September, 2002
Age of Mythology (the cool gamers will call it AOM) is the upcoming sequel to the wildly popular Age of Empires and Age of Kings games produced by Ensemble Studios. AOM is a huge jump from the more traditonal Age games, as it is essentally a non-historical game. The premise of the game too has changed dramatically, with the only noticable feature remaining being the "aging" process, whereby you advance your civilization's technology in a large jump, rather than the slow progression preferred in the RTS genre. In AOM, you will be able to choose from one of 3 "races", the Norse, the Egyptians, and the Greeks. Within each of these three races, (all with distinct tech trees, distinct units, and distinct architecture) there are there Gods that the player may choose to worship. Each god provides the player with unique powers (see god powers, below) and with specific strengths and weaknesses. The nine gods are Zeus, Poisidon, Hades, Ra, Set, Isis, Odin, Thor, and Loki.
There is one major change to the resource system in AoM. Stone has been eliminated as a resource (towers and walls will now cost gold), and a new resource, favour, has been introduced in its place. Favour is gained in different ways by the 3 races, but is nessesary for the purchase of the various special technologies offered up by the different gods, and perhaps most importantly, for the training of "myth units". The Norse gain favour automatically through combat, the Greeks gain favour by tasking villagers to pray at a temple (similar to the collection of any of the other resources), and the Egyptians gain favour by building monuments to their gods; essentially special buildings that, when constructed, provide the player with a steady income of favour.
Myth Units and Heroes:
One of the major changes in AOM is the myth unit. Available at the temple, myth units are much stronger than traditonal troops, but also cost more resources, as well as favour. A few myth units can easily change the tide of a major battle, which is why they have a very special counter unit: the hero. Heroes are special troops the each race has, which excel at combating mythological beasts. The Greek heroes are all figures from Greek mythology; Jason and the crew. These heroes can only exist one at a time on the map, and are trained at the town center or temple. The norse hero is the Hersir, a big infantry unit with a hammer, which is available at either the temple or the barracks. The Egyptian hero is the priest, available at the town center or the temple. Heroes are essential if you are facing myth units, but are relatively weak against traditonal troops.
Gods and God powers:
As you "level up" (or "age up") you must choose a new minor deity. Your choice will provide you with new technologies, a new myth unit (or two) and perhaps most importantly, a new god power. God powers are one use shots. You start with one, and you gain one each level, to a maximum of four. While the lower level powers are fairly tame (reveal a portion of the map, mine gold faster, etc) the late level powers can be near game ending; meteor
s. God powers require no favour to use, but once they're gone, they're gone, so use them wisely.
AoM is a fairly huge jump from the Age series. However, the gameplay is still superb, and I suspect that the multiplayer community will be on par with that for AoK (and Aok:TC) and I suspect that the tournament scene will probably be at least as large as that for AoK. It has the makings of a good multiplayer game, with a faster more AoEish feel than the relatively slow paced AoK. Oh, and they fixed town centres; they still shoot, but ya can't push with them. It is currently undergoing private and semiprivate alpha/beta testing, and is due to be released this september. If you're into RTS gaming, I would have to recommend this title.
sources: Me breaking my NDA a little bit. but nothing here that wasn't public already.