Age of Mythology Extended Edition Review

I used to think this was a nice improvement, but after playing it for 100 hours and comparing it to the original I have a few things I want to say. As somebody who played the game on a monthly basis before the extended version came out, I have no nostalgia factor for it, since I played the original game at the time of release. This means this will be a comparison review and not a review about the game itself. The title of “Extended Edition” means it’s a remastered edition and it should improve upon certain aspects of the game. These are among others: Native HD widescreen, improved water, global lighting and extended features such as Twitch streaming, day/night cycles and multiplayer.

 

  • Game Name:                     Age of Mythology Extended Edition
  • Platforms:                          PC: Windows
  • Platform Reviewed:         Windows 10
  • How copy was obtained: Purchased 13th Jun 2015 in  the Steam Summer Sale

 

There were reasons for making an extended version of the original Age of Mythology. The original game was getting old, it needed more support, the graphics needed to be updated to current PC standards and the Online had to be working again. The online was shut down because Ubisoft made a big mistake by giving everybody the same activation code for their games, making them unable to verify whether or not a copy was legitimate or pirated.

At first glance, it seems that Skybox labs did exactly what was needed. The game indeed has improved with upgraded graphics and native widescreen support. The multiplayer is finally a thing again and the other features have been implemented as promised, nothing to be sad about is there? Well actually this is where it gets blurry. Judging this from an improvement standpoint it’s delivered, but still under delivered.

To start of with one of the main feature from the extended edition of this game, the graphics. The game looks better at first glance but after a few hours of playtime some inconsistencies arise. Units haven’t gotten an upgraded look, they still have the same model with the same texture. This could be because of nostalgia’s sake but it does stand out in cutscenes in the campaign as some units will stand out compared to the look of the game and the terrain graphics. This means you’ll have a lovely shadow but the shadow is higher quality than the tree it’s supposed to be from. The improved graphics aren’t improved enough consistently and enough to warrant a new version of the game. I’ve found that the improved graphics aren’t noticeable after a while and they make performance suffer. You can also run the original at custom widescreen resolutions, albeit they aren’t natively supported and have to be done through a “User.cfg” file.

Performance, this is undoubtly the most crucial point of an RTS because good performance means fast speed, less latency and the game can be played more efficiently. But what I have noticed in this version is that the performance is inconsistent. Sometimes I’d have 100 fps, other times it would drop down to 20 fps. Playing like this will affect your speed in the game and as stated earlier, speed is important. In RTS games you have to snowball really quickly and early and if you lag for 3 seconds when starting a map, you are already behind on the others.

Now if that was all I would’ve overlooked the performance problems and the redundant graphics, was it not for the fact that they also tampered with the game in terms of pricing and new units, and the God awful expansion which starred a huge baby gnome as the “Titan of the Chinese”. The expansion gets in your face if you don’t own it since there are some balance changes to accommodate it. Yet there are no balance changes to the fact that Zeus will defenestrate your buildings like no tomorrow, or the fact that the Atlanteans are all unbalanced as the Britains Pound right now. Every faction recieved a new unit to “balance” it out, but these units are either pointless or don’t fit in well with the others.

The custom units are, Physicians for the Greeks, Kopesh Swordsman for the Egyptians, Bowman for the Norse and a catapult for the Atlanteans. The physicians heal your units but that basically undermines Apollo’s “Healing Temple”. The Kopesh Swordsman are good against villagers, just like every other unit in the game. But although every other unit is also good at something else, these are only good against villagers, Camels could be used for fast village raids because of their speed, but no, we needed a unit that is strong against villagers, the weakest units in the game. The Norse “Bowman” is a unique ranged unit, that pretty much does the same thing as an Axeman and is defined as being “Good against flying units” which would be a narrow version of “Good against Myth Units” because those are the only type of flying units in the game. The last one is a catapult for the Atlanteans, giving them 3 siege units, not including the Behemoth. First is a human unit called “Destroyer” and it does bonus damage against buildings which is solely what they are good for. Then comes a fire siphon, a mechanical siege weapon that shoots fire at predominantly buildings. Why do the Atlanteans need more building destroying action? I do not know.

But, this isn’t too much of a problem and the units aren’t really in your face anyway. What I was really hyped about was the Multiplayer, finally being able to play online. At first it looked like amazing stuff would happen, events and leagues, medals and matches against others of the same level. But sadly, all the added special multiplayer events are marked as “Coming Soon”, even though it’s been 3 years and only one event has happened. On average there are 30 people in the lobby and about 3 games open for joining, which isn’t really an active online playerbase. But salvation strikes when I could play the game with some friends from Extend. That was by far the most fun I had in the extended version of the game. But alas, even this has it’s downsides, for the servers tend to lag quite a bit and frequently people get desynced which makes the players lose their momentum.

After a while I switched over to the extended edition for a good long time, I played tutorial and fought things in skirmishes. It was all fine and dandy, until I loaded up Acropolis and found to my horror that all the plateaus had gaps in the cliff faces which completely ruined one of my favourite maps. I then started up the original and played one skirmish game and it felt like I was playing Age of Mythology again. No lag, no weird shadows, no weird inconsistencies in graphical quality, no weird stretched out faces, no weird skewed camera in cutscenes. Most of all it ran buttery smooth, so much so that I was surprised at how well I could actually play. I did the same thing as I normally but this time I turned out to have improved and completely wrecked everything in my path.

My conclusion is that this is only worth it if you want to play with friends and want an official way to do so. This by no means is a good replacement for Age of Mythology, a game which worked fine but had some flaws. These issues are why I can’t recommend this game as a replacement. Buy it if you have friends who play and if it’s on sale, it’s still an old game so the current pricetag of € 28,- isn’t really attractive.

Pros:

  • Easy Access to an old game
  • Backwards scenario compatibility
  • Online multiplayer
  • Improved Visuals
  • Extended Support
  • Native Widescreen
  • Steam Workshop
  • Added Expansion

Cons:

  • Redundant graphics improvements
  • Desync Issues
  • Frequent lagging
  • Changed the balancing
  • Redundant units
  • Broken map design
  • Game looks darker
  • Inconsistent Improvements
  • Poor Performance
  • Expansion is derpy
  • Price is way too high

Screenshot Library:

Original Game ^
Extended Edtition ^
Original Game ^
Extended Edition ^
Somebody should “EXTEND” These trees