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A 2020 Review for Age of Wonders III

Updated on March 3, 2020
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The Only Sin is Mediocrity. Have been playing games since 1989! Here to provide reviews and recommendations to the general public.

Quick take:

Six years after its original release, Age of Wonders III still stands as a remarkably competent and fun 4x turn-based strategy and tactical combat game. Triumph Studios two-games-in-one approach sets Age of Wonders III in a rare cross-genre we only see come out of the Total War franchise. It's immensely exciting and fun at the onset, but it does begin to drag on and show it's repetitiveness after 20-40 hours. If you're already a fan of this style game, you could very easily double or triple that number. Unfortunately, multiplayer is almost entirely dead. Single player or LAN games would be your only viable options. If you've not played this wonder of a game - I'd recommend you give this one a shot. It has a lot to offer, particularly in it's tactical combat battles. Plus - I've seen this title go on sale for as low as $7.50. That's a bargain for a game that you will easily put 30+ hours into playing.

Pros:

- Sprawling tactical battles spice up the long game by providing a variety challenges one must strategize on in order to succeed.

- Beautiful, lush graphics that keep up with 2020 standards for strategy games.

- Heroes provide an RPG-esque feel by finding loot which can be equipped along with leveling-up which provides ability points - both of which are used to further buff your hero.

- High level of replayability.

- "Just one more turn!"

Cons:

- Multiplayer is dead. Local LAN or private games are your only hope for such competition.

- Campaign story is tired and uninspired.

- Simultaneous turns results in some confusing and frustrating delays. Some clicks take upwards of 20 seconds to register, worrying the player that their game may have crashed.

- ALT+TAB creates some hilarious graphical glitches (might be a positive due to hilarity)

Now this is what I call a quality start!

Age of Wonders III ALT+TAB glitch
Age of Wonders III ALT+TAB glitch

Game Components

Concept:
It's rare we get the genres of a tactical combat game blended with a 4x strategy game. They've really pulled it off on this one and that alone makes it worth checking out. The challenge keeps the game fun and interesting, while also feeling very achievable.

Graphics:
Beautiful game. Still looks very fresh and lush having been 6 years since it was released. Combat scenes are impressively detailed and varied for something most developers would have done less with. That sort of attention to detail is not common enough.

Sound:
Music is fine, but for a game that spans such a long amount of time - I found myself muting it within the first 8 hours of game play. Voice acting, however, is great - even if only included in the two campaigns.

Playability:
Tutorial does a poor job, mostly relying on an in-game encyclopedia appropriately called the Tome of Wonders. Game itself is easy enough to get the hang of, but learning effective strategies for the many different scenarios is a challenge but one that brings you back for more. Some campaign goals could be better communicated.

Entertainment:
I wish the city-building component was more fulfilling, but as a whole the game really does an awesome job of creating an atmosphere that sucks you in wanting "just one more turn". Combat is where the game shines the most providing a large array of options to destroy your enemies and competition.

Replay:
High. You can create your own heroes, your own scenarios, partake in online play (which is very limited in 2020), and make good use of the modding community. This all breathes more life into a game that already is very replayable.

Cheats?: Yes! An adequate amount of cheats are available using the in-game console. No trainers or file modifications needed. To enable, withing game launcher's check the checkbox for "Run in Debug Mode" before starting the game. Once in a campaign or match - use CTRL+ALT+C to bring up the console. Recommended cheats are as follows:

- +100,000 gold | BOSCH
- Explore map (does not disable Fog Of War) | TASMAN
- Free movement | CRUIJFF
- Instant production of current queue in every city | PHILIPS
- Kill the selected target (in battle) | GETOUT
- Auto-win a battle (in battle) | WINNOW

Full Detailed Review

Six years after its original release, Age of Wonders III still stands as a remarkably competent and fun 4x turn-based strategy and tactical combat game. Triumph Studios two-games-in-one approach sets Age of Wonders III in a rare cross-genre we only see come out of the Total War franchise.

Age of Wonders III introduces a new form of combat - turn-based tactical battles. Taking place in an entirely different view and space from the over-head strategy map view. This two-in-one game change has brought mixed reviews from super-fans of the original two games in the series.

The tired and uninspired campaign story is saved by the quality of the voice-overs as well as the lush, beautiful graphics throughout the entire game. The tactical combat battles are an exceptional example of the amount of detail the design team has put into the game.

The incredibly long matches that are standard-fare for 4x turn-based strategy games is still alive and well within Age of Wonders III, earning it the "just one more turn" achievement. Expect entire matches or campaigns to last several hours.

Age of Wonders shines the brightest within the tactical battles; in part due to the variety of enemy units, monsters scattered throughout, and especially the sheer volume of different attacks, spells, and approaches one must take to succeed. The racial choices you pick do feel very "samesy" in that while very different looking - they all have the same function within their unit type.

An additional highlight of the tactical battles are the vast amount of terrain-based scenery changes that spice up the battlefield. Along with treasure sites, subterranean spaces, and overlays - the scenery can mean a morale boost or morale penalty might be levied upon your units depending on the racial mix. Even further, treasure site employ a higher difficulty due to the battlefield conditions causing curses, negative trait enchantments, or boosts to the enemy units.

The primary players on the battlefield are the heroes, which function as the main combat leaders having an array of spells at their disposal. Only being able to use one spell a turn within combat, this helps balance and prevent hero-stacking your unit fleets - which is very important if you play multiplayer modes. Furthermore, Age of Wonders III provides a RPG-esque aspect by having each hero gain level-ups which provide ability points which can be assigned to provide a more powerful hero and units. Heroes also have an inventory where they can stash equipment found throughout the game - all of which can also be equipped to further enhance your capabilities in the battlefield.

The most glaring technical fault within the game spurs from the simultaneous turns option. Unit movement, ending turns, and simple clicks within the game can become 20 second delays which make the player question if the game has froze or is crashing. The further you get into a campaign or match, the more painful the delays become as your unit count and city count are presumably at their highest.

Wow - what a battle scene!

Wow - what a battle scene!
Wow - what a battle scene!

Score: 7/10 - Not Mediocre. It's hard for me to like most strategy games, and I really enjoyed this one. Knocked it down point due to no multiplayer available.

4 stars for Age of Wonders III

What's your take?

How would you score Age of Wonders 3? Have more to say? Put it in the comments!

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