The decade series continues over at the Flash of Steel blog, though I suspect we will no sooner wrap up the 2000-2009 series than we have to start chiseling 2010-2019 into stone. Frankly, though, I’m a bit relieved we’re taking our time with this. Rather than just dashing off posts on games I half-remember, I have time to really plan my posts and even revisit the games I’m writing about.
My latest entry, for 2002, covers Ensemble’s superb Age of Mythology. Here I confronted (as I will so often in this series) the problem of writing nearly unequivocal praise for a game. While the words come very easily in a discussion about why aspects of a certain game do not work for me, I always feel clumsy when I try to explain why I really enjoy and admire a great game. So for this entry, I tried to present it through the eyes of three different kinds of gamers who enjoy it: my father, myself, and my girlfriend.
That approach, however, meant that I couldn’t really get into the nuts-and-bolts of why the game is successful across these audiences. The funny thing about Age of Mythology is that it possesses that chess-like quality of being fairly straightforward to learn, but shockingly deep once you begin learning each culture and deity, and how they interact with the others. This is basically a game with nine factions, and each faction has several “builds” you can play. After countless games, I don’t think I’m even close to knowing enough to utilize each faction to its full potential. And yet I’ve been able to play the game competently from the moment I installed it.
Hopefully I’ll be able to discuss this game in a bit more detail over the next few weeks. In particular, I am absolutely in love with the the ways it handles the economy, hero units, and the entire Norse culture. But in the meantime, go read the entry over on Flash of Steel.