PC Game Review: Age of Conquest III
Scott Parrino tackles world domination and then some in Noble Master Game's latest RISK-style PC game.
A Game of World Domination
Age of Conquest III is one of those titles that is influenced from a popular strategy game and tweaks its rules and setup a little bit. A quick glance at the game screen in AoC III reveals that its influence is the popular board game RISK. Whereas with RISK territories were more general in their location, AoC III adds in dozens upon dozens more. This creates some unique strategic elements that wouldnít necessarily be found in vanilla RISK.
What exactly separates AoC III from RISK? First off, there is no randomized dice roll to determine the loss of units. Instead there are modifiers that affect the outcome of each attack in a turn. Defenders will receive a boost for defense and if their territory contains a castle. There is also a multiplier if you have Empire Management on as you can use tax money to increase the fighting power of your armies. More than likely the one with the largest amount of army units will win but usually at a heavy cost for the attacker. This leads to the strategy of how much gold you spend on troops to protect your territories while gathering enough to beat an opponent. Those that have played RISK know of this strategy pretty well and so it should be second nature in AoC III.
The way to play AoC III relies on several factors. The more territories you own, the more actions you get in a turn. Building a castle and watchtower and raising and moving troops cost certain amount of points to do. Having gold is another factor, as it costs gold to build your castles and watchtowers and raise troops. Gold also comes into play when you are attacking territories through seaborne invasion. All these actions are possible from just simply clicking on territories you own, as a circular menu pops up to select an action. Very rarely do you use your keyboard.
AoC III also has the ability to do diplomacy with your opponents. With the AI this interaction is limited to declaring truces and wars and alliances, where as online you can send private messages for behind-the-back-scheming that a lot of us had done with the board game version. With diplomacy on you cannot do surprise attacks and must declare war before attacking. This gives everyone a turn to prepare themselves and not be completely overwhelmed. Players this time around will have to build watch towers to see how many troops are stationed in neighboring territories, failure to do so and youíll be surprised when 50,000 troops barrel into your weakly defended territory.
AoC III is chock full of options to start a game. You can select world domination, North America, Africa, Europe and even South America as your playing field. There are a number of settings for opponents and how many, as well as using historical settings or random placement. There are also two gametypes to select for the end game, total domination or standard. Total domination is self explanatory while standard is a victory through capturing and holding a certain number of territories. World domination is great for those that want to completely and totally destroy their enemies for a victory, but near the endgame when you have amassed large armies and swaths of territories, it becomes too easy no matter the difficulty and settings. Standard is bit more competitive as youíll keep an eye out for enemies (or allies) that are approaching the winning limit of territories. By then it becomes a mad rush to capture their territories which in turn will cause other players to go after that player. It becomes a crazed, intense vicious cycle.
Unique in AoC III is also having Kings/Queens. These are the leaders of your country that you want to protect at all cost. Capturing them ends up with the player gaining a large number of territories while killing them (when they cannot retreat to a safer location) nets you their entire empire. While a great idea is to try and find the Kings/Queens to capture and kill, it can work out to your enemies benefit. Territory suddenly ceded to you will be vulnerable to current enemies and easily captured. The strategy of how you wage your war against the enemy should always be thought through, even in a game as simple looking AoC III.
A feature that was discovered after being unable to find it was the autosave. There is no individual save feature, each turn the game saves itself. This is handy for players that forget to save or donít want to go through the hassle of saving. The only downside here is that there is no chance to backtrack if you make a mistake, so plan your moves carefully!
Simple, Clean, Useful
That is the graphics in a nutshell. AoC III doesnít require a lot of horsepower of a PC to run it. This was played on a HP Mini netbook with no problem. In fact there are also mobile phone versions that work just as well, which is great for on-the-go action to pass the time.
The only issue stumbled across, which on its own is incredibly rare, is the color coding for countries. With dozens and dozens of possible sides to have on the board, some of the colors may blend together, especially the lighter ones. This isnít so much of a problem on smaller maps but if you are doing the entire world, it is possible but not very likely that youíll get confused on who is who at a quick glance.
Overall the art is clear and well done, it isnít too washed out or a terrible conglomeration of colors and mismatched detail. Useful information such as the number of units, who owns what territory, as well as castles and watchtowers are displayed clearly on the map. AoC III benefits greatly from this as there are no menus and sub-menus to click through to see additional stats.
The way of sound isnít much to comment on as it is just a few basic sounds for attacking and moving units. This doesnít detract nor add to AoC III as it is a very simple and fun title to play. Playing it on mute wonít affect the gameplay as the action is centered on the screen and shown clearly.
The Final Word
Over all Iíd suggest giving AoC III a try if you are into RISK-style games. It runs easily on any platform and can even go mobile. There are a lot of modes to try and various rules to experiment with to make each campaign a unique one. Even if youíve been living under a rock in the Bermuda Triangle and never played a RISK-style game before, AoC III makes it very easy to get into.
- Simple, easy to play
- Not hardware hungry
- Clean, detailed graphics
- Multiple settings and rules
- No separate save feature
- Endgames can become too easy even on higher difficulties
Review written by: Scott Parrino