Review: Age of Empires: Mythologies (Nintendo DS)

Age of Empires: Mythologies
Developer: THQ
Publisher: THQ
Genre: Strategy
Release Date: 11/24/08

Story / Modes

Single Player
Single player mode is broken down into three campaigns; Egyptian, Norse and Greek. Each campaign has its own story and heroes and of course gods, that give each one a slightly different feel. Each group attains power differently, so the play styles for each vary as well. The game plays a bit like a cross between Advance Wars and Warcraft, with the story mostly happening at the beginning and end of an individual mission while all the action takes place between. It’s turn based combat and movement, but you have all the building and construction options of Warcraft in there, which I’m supposing is a hold over from the PC title of Age of Empires Mythology. While not gripping, the stories are interesting and keep the game moving along.

Aside from the campaigns, you also have the skirmish and scenario modes that put you on different maps against the AI outside of the campaigns playing whichever mythology you want to for that map which yields some interesting combinations, like Zeus versus Loki and along that similar vein. God of Thunder for $500 please Alex.

You can do this a few ways, game sharing between 2 DS’s, a 4 way game wirelessly if you all have the game or pass it along to a friend through the use of the traditional hot seat.

Because it is turn based though, this game can get a bit tedious when playing multi-player and as each of you weigh your options it can drag a game on for a really long time depending on the size of the combat field and troops you have. Best for long car rides or when you have to wait anyway.

Well it’s a DS game, so I’m not looking at next-gen quality stuff here, but what they do have looks pretty good. The sprites (I hesitate to call them that) look fantastic and the environments aren’t too bad. The fighting animations that run across the top screen are amusing and look pretty good and are probably the biggest reminder to me of Advance Wars. All in all, a very passable portable game. Don’t look for graphics winner of the year here.

The sound is adequate. It’s n ot memorable, and does the job of making noises emanate from the DS. I can’t actually remember a single tune or sound effect from the game after playing it for hours and hours if that tells you anything.

Control / Gameplay
Overall the controls are pretty simple and straightforward. You have the option of selecting troops and the menu with the stylus or with the controls on the DS itself. You select which troops you want to do which actions and then tell them where. You move each of your troops in turn and can select them at any time on your turn. Once you move them, or if, then you can tell them to attack or build or whatever other options they might have.

Heroes give you a few other options that regular troops and peasants just don’t have. Different buildings and temples give different options depending on which group you’re playing that can boost your sides effectiveness. Oh and it’s turn based. Yeah I know, you fans of the PC version that’s RTS, get over it. This works so much better on the DS.

To me it really does feel like the best marriage of Warcraft and Advance Wars. The building up of your troops and supplies adds to the quick combat that comes as the enemy advances or as you prepare to slaughter them by marching out to their cities. Each unit has different capabilities, and figuring out when and where to deploy each is a matter of timing and strategy, and because it is turn based it’s a bit less frenetic which suits me just fine.

The only problems I really had with the controls lie with the stylus, and I did try other games and the DS menu itself to verify that it was the game and not our particular DS. For some reason I had a terrible time selecting troops using the stylus. If they were bunched up it would select the wrong one even when I was pressing right over the one I wanted, or it would miss and select the terrain to give me the end of turn options. Usually this happened when the screen wasn’t dead center over my troops and would otherwise behave, usually. But it does cost them some points. Bad stylus detection, bad!

The flip side of this is that the d-pad and letter buttons worked perfectly without any problems so after a bit of frustration I put the stupid stylus down and started using those instead. Yeah, I use my PSP way too much to have patience with a fake pen when I play my games, especially when it doesn’t work quite right.

It seems the thing to have in video games these days are reasons to keep you playing them over and over again. They don’t disappoint. You’ve got many different achievements, some easy, some hard, some just plain odd. Apart from the achievements you can unlock more maps for skirmishes and multiplayer as well as varying gods for each of the factions. All in all plenty of reasons to play again, especially if you like the game, not so much if you don’t.

Much like the games I mentioned before, this game has a great balance. Each unit has a strength and a weakness and while you can position your troops around the map to slaughter the enemy, you have to be careful as they’ll have something waiting where you can’t see it that can take your troops out just as fast as you just did. The maps are pretty varied, and no one side really has all that much of an advantage from where I could see. Very well thought out and executed and just what I like to see in a strategy game, no one side having too much of an advantage, even amongst the Heroes and their abilities.

While not the first in the series, it does have a certain feel to it that makes it seem a bit more fresh, probably the addition of the mythologies that lends quite a bit to the game and while not original to the Age series, the way it’s executed here does feel fresh even though I felt like I’d seen something like it in other games.

Much like Warcraft and Advance Wars, I have gotten quite addicted to this game. The only thing that pulled me away from it was my Christmas gift of a nice shiny new smoking laptop from my wife. I popped it in one night and played and played and then got yelled at for staying up way too late when i had to work in the morning.

Every time I’ve picked this up I’ve kept playing and playing. There’s enough strategy to it to keep strategy buffs going and enough micro-management of troops and such to keep us OCD and control freaks going as well. It’s a lot of fun, and my wife won’t be getting her DS back any time soon as long as this game is in it.

Appeal Factor
A well crafted strategy game on the DS based off a hit series on the PC? Well I suppose after the initial shock of it not being an RTS, fans of the series will flock to it. It’s fun and I like that I can play this against my step-son without him having to have the game cartridge.

I was mildly interested in this and I don’t even own my own DS, so I can say it’d probably go over well, but with the market glut of games this holiday season I can assume that it will get overlooked this year as a game to pick up. Here’s hoping though.

I don’t actually own my own DS, my wife does. So I was using her DS with the powder blue Pokemon cover on it to play this game. If I didn’t have access to my wife’s DS or my son’s, and had a copy of this game, I’d go look for one to buy to be able to play this game. It’s been some serious fun and massively addicting little piece of strategy heaven that I love to get entangled with. This is really well done and has been a joy to review other than the stylus issue which is very forgivable as I’d rather not play the game with it anyway.

The Scores
Story: Great
Graphics: Good
Sound: Decent
Control and Gameplay: Good
Replayability: Very Good
Balance: Classic
Originality: Good
Addictiveness: Amazing
Appeal Factor: Great
Miscellaneous: Classic

Short Attention Span Summary
Gaming Rexes are sad!Anyone who has a DS and likes strategy games and a bit of fantasy thrown in will like this game. Even fans of the PC game should like this version of the game even though it’s gone turn based. It’s a well-crafted game that can keep you playing it for hours on end sending your forces against some other pantheons forces or even your own pantheons forces if needed. You will buy this game or face Odin’s Wrath!



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