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System Requirements:
Requires Age of Empires III
1.4GHz CPU
256MB RAM
2GB HDD Space
64MB 3D Video w/ hardware T&L
Windows XP
Rated T for violence

This expansion takes place in the 15th, 16th and 19th centuries. The Chinese campaign takes place in the 15th century as you serve a spoiled brat of an admiral in the Ming Dynasty and head west to distant shores. In 16th century Japan, you play a loyal general taking part in Battle of Sekigahara. Before you fight that battle, you must come to terms with your past. The Indian campaign takes place in the 19th century where you play an Indian lieutenant who is part of the British East India Company. After watching many betrayals and see that they are insensitive to the Indian culture, you join the rebel cause to free India from British reign.

What do I get with this expansion?


Asian Dynasties offers many nice additions that make this a worthwhile purchase for owners of Age of Empires III. There’s a whole new single player campaign adding three new civilizations (China, Japan, and India) with fifteen scenarios each. There are eleven new maps as well. There are also new home city cards and buildings. New game modes include King of the Hill (capture and hold a fort), Regicide (protect your leader), and Treaty No-Blockade (40 minutes of no attacking, can’t block shipments).

Playing the new civilizations

Livestock cannot be harvested for food with the Japanese and Indian cultures. The Indian culture has attack elephants (very cool!). One of the weaknesses of the Indian maps is the lack of trees. Since desert areas lack wood, I highly recommend playing the mango grove card to give yourself some wood to harvest. One thing that weakens the Indian culture is that villagers require wood instead of food. To counter balance, with every card played, you get a free villager. Of the three new cultures, I think I enjoyed playing as India the most.

The Japanese Daimyo unit is not only is powerful, but has the ability to enhance and train troops on the go. They can also act as a shipment center for your home city cards. Training units is different in the Chinese culture. Instead of training a certain unit at a time, you have to train mixed groups of units called banners. It\'s a unique way of doing things but it works out pretty well in the end.

Balance


The new civilizations are pretty well balanced and are great additions to this game. This expansion also lets you play the original and war chief civilizations too. I played as the Sioux indians against China and was able to overtake them. I don\'t really have a favorite culture overall, I think they are all good and fun to play. The home city cards make any terrain and enemy possible to overcome. In order to get good home city cards, you need experience by playing as the home civilization.

Multiplayer

When you launch the multiplayer mode, it will automatically patch your game for you. As of this review it’s up to version 1.01. There are a good amount of players and games available to join. The same game styles remain but you can also play the new rules as well. It\'s backwards compatible with all the other AOE3 games and War Chief expansion games.

Graphics

The graphics have not changed with the expansion. The cut scenes appear to be pre-rendered but look good. Although the graphics don’t blow you away they are pretty good for a RTS (Real Time Strategy) game. The units look unique but when grouped together it’s hard to tell them apart. Fortunately, the interface is pretty good and it’s easy to micro-manage your units.

Sound

Again the sound hasn’t changed too much since AOE III. The voice acting is well done and I like the background/theme music. The sound effects are good and each unit/weapon has their own sound effect.

Appropriateness


There’s a lot of wars and fighting happening in this game. A majority of it is over power, unfortunately. This game is pretty clean other than the violence. There’s no blood, gore, swearing or sexual content. You will witness a Japanese suicide and some executions on the single player campaign. Each civilization has their own religious references. You’ll see transcendence in the Chinese civilization. The Indian culture won’t let you kill cows for food. There is some discrimination between the British and Indian people.

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed this expansion, especially the single player campaign and story line. The added features are good and definitely improve the game. The asking price is $30 but I managed to get mine for $20 on sale. I feel like I definitely got my money’s worth. I recommend this to any Age of Empires III owner.

Final Ratings

Game Play 18/20
Graphics 7/10
Sound 8/10
Interface 5/5
Stability 4/5
Appropriateness 43/50
-5 for cold blooded murder
-1.5 Characters are portrayed with stereotypical biases
-1.5 magic used by player (Fire-Pit)

Overall 84%

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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