Last year, Real-Time Strategy fans were introduced to an epic struggle between good and evil for the fate of the world. Featuring powerful nations, dozens of brave warriors and a complex, engaging plot, gamers were treated to one of the best titles of the year. Iím not talking about the obvious Command and Conquer title; Instead, Iím referring to Age of Mythology, the Microsoft and Ensemble Studios game that flung players into an ancient conflict between the Greeks, the Norse and the Egyptians. Now, almost a year to the day that these cultures first clashed on computer screens, Microsoft is getting ready to release the expansion pack, Age of Mythology: The Titans.
If you werenít aware of the original title, hereís an oversimplified, extremely brief recap: Greek citizens, led by the Atlantean hero Arkantos, united with both Egyptian and Norse heroes to defeat a common threat to all of their nations. In the process of repelling the menace, Atlantis is lost beneath the waves, and its surviving citizens scatter to nearby lands. The Titans expansion picks up ten years after the loss of the fabled city, with the attempted reconstruction of Atlantean colonies. While the rebuilding process has been steady, the people have forgotten about the ever-weakening imprisonment of Kronos and the elder Titans. Seizing an opportunity, Kronos rallies the Atlantean people and war once again rages across the land.
Players taking control of the Atlantean side in the new twelve mission campaign have some surprising abilities with their army. To keep some of the suspense, Iíll only mention three of the more significant ones. The first is the option to cast god powers more than once in a mission. Unlike the Egyptians, Greeks or Norse, Atlanteans can use their divine powers much more frequently, which makes them a threat during any mission or skirmish to opposing armies. Second is the ability to turn just about any Atlantean unit, including normal citizens, into a hero unit, allowing them to cause more damage and turn the tide of any battle.
Perhaps the most significant feature is the ability for all civilizations to construct a Titan portal. As complicated as building a Wonder of the World, constructing a titan portal takes a ton of resources to start and quite some time to finish, but once itís finished, you get a chance to unleash an incredibly powerful myth unit upon the world. Packing more than 7,000 hit points and a ton of anger, a titan can easily obliterate an army and an opposing base by itself, creating the potential for either cataclysmic fights between titans on a battlefield or a game-ending handicap.
The animation that Age of Mythology featured was rather impressive for an RTS, but The Titans improves upon the models for the game even more. Combat animation is slick and natural during assaults on enemy units or buildings. Cutscenes are nicely done as well. The music has been augmented as well, and along with solid voice acting, The Titans delivers a spectacular atmospheric performance. With an early look at this title, Age of Mythology should create new legends of its own when it hits shelves this Tuesday. Check back here soon for a full review!
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