Originally launched during the late 1990’s, Age of Wonders took the PC gaming world by storm with its 3D turn-based, strategy orientated gameplay. It was unlike anything gamers had ever seen before. After thirteen long years, we finally receive the third edition in the Age of Wonders franchise. Even after all these years, Triumph Studios never lost sight of what made Age of Wonders such a brilliant strategy experience.
Age of Wonders 3 offers a rich story that contains hours of enjoyable gaming. The single-player campaign allows you to experience all the different character classes as you play. And while the single-player campaign bounces you between the different character classes, the game never restricts the player based on the character class currently being played. This means you can customize every class to your liking, regardless of what it is (i.e. rogue, warlord, etc.). For example; the rogue class can cast magic and even wield weapons stronger than daggers.
Age of Wonders 3 is amazing in this regard, as it allows the player the personal freedom to develop their character in any way they see fit. This feature allows you to have a different character each time you play the game. Even though the in-game maps are never the same (and add to the replay value), having the ability to customize your character adds a layer of depth that not too many strategy games offer.
With numerous character classes to choose from, Age of Wonders 3 offers different play styles and plenty of flexibility for creativity. Since the character system offers endless possibilities, it’s impossible to find another player with the same character build. This is what makes online multiplayer such a grueling ordeal. Online battles can sometimes last hours or even days depending on how players are involved.
The online portion of Age of Wonders 3 is just as enjoyable as the single-player campaign. There is virtually no difference between the two modes with the exception of Player vs Player combat, where real players control their heroes on a map. Age of Wonders does a phenomenal job of making the transition seamless from single-player to multiplayer. And while some rogue factions are controlled by the AI during online play, others are controlled by actual gamers. So you’re not only dealing with AI controlled opponents, but player-based factions as well. Regardless of which online mode you play, it still has the charm and the quality of the single-player campaign.
The combat system is turn-based with no time restrictions, allowing you to plan your next course of action carefully. Since Age of Wonders 3 is strategy-based, it requires you to be tactical every step of the way. Resources such as mana and money are important to your survival. The mana you use during combat or on the world map affects your mana pool. If you use up too much mana casting spells while on the world map, you might not leave enough mana to help you during combat.
Mana and gold can be gathered by capturing key locations on the world map. You can also accumulate these resources by using your towns and cities. Using your cities to accumulate resources will sacrifice a turn, but sometimes it’s necessary when you’re low on resources.
Age of Wonders 3 incorporates a Morality System where the decisions you make have a greater impact on the opposing factions and even the surrounding towns. Aside from making devilish decisions, you can dabble in the dark art of magic that can change your alignment. Choosing to be either good or evil can have its advantages and disadvantages. The game contains a plethora of moral decisions, even when you’re sieging a town or city. This creates a moral dilemma when deciding the fate of the city/town you have sieged.
Aside from capturing and/or sieging neighboring towns to grow your empire, you can also expand the cities that you either own or have captured. By building shrines and other facilities such as barracks, you can purchase and then train new units that can be incorporated into your armies.
The Democracy system is by far my most favorite feature in Age of Wonders 3. By using the Democracy system, you can form alliances or find rival enemies. Forming alliances is another way to defeat your foes. Some opponents are just too strong to defeat on your own, and building alliances are the best way to take on those opponents. The Diplomatic system isn’t always the best decision, but it does add an alternative measure while playing.
When playing online, you can setup the combat system in multiple ways. There is an option to select classic mode or traditional turn-based combat. Classic mode is simultaneous turn-based, which means every player takes a turn at the same time. Traditional turn-based mode is where the players all play at the same time, until the turn ends. When a player initiates combat, everyone participating in the game is shown the encounter (whether it’s Player vs Player or AI controlled).
Gamers that don’t want to sit through the combat sequences can ‘auto resolve’ their battles. Hardcore players will typically lay down rules before starting an online match, while others enjoy watching the combat sequences as they unfold. I personally enjoy watching all the battles; it’s a good way to plan your strategies and to see how your opponents react during combat. This feature can become rather tedious if you don’t have more than four players participating.
Finding an online match is also relatively easy. There are always plenty of rooms available in the lobby, and it doesn’t take long to find a quick game. Plus, you can host your own game and invite friends.
Age of Wonders 3 has made a tremendous comeback after a thirteen year hiatus. It brings with it everything that gamers loved about the series, while implementing a brand-new campaign and new maps. And with all the player-made content currently available via the Steam Workshop, Age of Wonders 3 is guaranteed to have endless replay value for many years to come.
James ‘Daripp3r’ Pittaro
OS: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 2.4 Ghz or AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ @2.6 Ghz
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Graphics: nVidia 8800 / ATi Radeon HD 3870 with 512MB or Laptop integrated Intel HD 3000 with 3GB system ram
DirectX: Version 9.0c
Network: Broadband Internet connection
Hard Drive: 10 GB available space
Sound Card: DirectX 9 Compatible
Additional Notes: Open connection for online multiplayer. 1024×768 screen resolution.
Developer: Triumph Studios
Publisher: Triumph Studios
|Beautiful backgrounds and impressive 3D characters really make Age of Wonders 3 a pleasure to play.|
|A well composed soundtrack with ‘killer’ tunes.|
|Age of Wonders 3 revives the classic gameplay of its predecessors.|
|A fantastic single-player campaign and a truly unrivaled multiplayer experience makes Age of Wonders 3 the best game in the series. .|