Age of Mythology is a game that came out over a decade ago, yet a new expansion, Tale of the Dragon was just released. It’s a bit of an odd experiment, but it’s one that I think Microsoft can count as a positive tally, even if it does feel like fan service at some points. The campaign itself is relatively short, there are no graphical upgrades, but having China finally make an appearance with new heroes, units, and mythos makes the wait relatively worth it. The multiplayer skirmishes still face some lag issues, especially when playing against more than six opponents, but those that are familiar with the Age of Mythology layout will be able to jump right in and have fun exploring all the new possibilities that Tale of the Dragon offers.
People have been asking for Chinese gods in AoM for years, which is probably why Microsoft was kind enough to release this expansion, and the race feels right at home in Tale of the Dragon. The campaign expresses that sentiment relatively well. The cutscenes and presentation definitely feels dated, but given the delivery of the rest of Age of Mythology, not to mention the age of the engine, I think it’s fair to say that it definitely fits in terms of parity. It is relatively short, featuring only 12 missions, but I spent a bit over 10 hours completing it, and though some of the missions were definitely an exercise in tedium I found myself enjoying the majority of my time with it. It’s certainly not flawless, and I did run into a few bugs during my time with it, but for the most part it played consistently.
"The cutscenes and presentation definitely feels dated, but given the delivery of the rest of Age of Mythology, not to mention the age of the engine, I think it’s fair to say that it definitely fits in terms of parity."
Players familiar with Age of Mythology: Extended Edition will know exactly what to expect graphically from Tale of the Dragon. There isn’t a single improved texture to be found and the sound effects are as obnoxious as ever, especially when using some of the new Chinese mythical units (I literally had to mute some of the audio during a stream I did because of complaints), but there’s a certain charm that emerges from its aged aesthetic that will without-a-doubt appeal to seasoned gamers that grew up with the title.
"For those that like to take a deliberate approach to their strategy will find hours of fun."
Multiplayer is definitely the most fun aspect of Tale of the Dragon. Chinese units offer a variety in terms of the overall gameplay, and in this aspect it offers China a unique standpoint that divides them from the rest of the races that I personally didn’t feel existed in the base version of AoM:EX. Lag is certainly a problem, especially in large skirmishes, but the game didn’t ever feel unplayable. There were some choppy interactions, and at times units, especially my gathering units, definitely expressed delayed responses when it came to command inputs, but overall it was still an enjoyable experience, just be prepared for some seriously long online matches.
Some people may be turned off by Tale of the Dragon’s slow-paced approach to RTS. It’s certainly not as blazing fast as some of the Blizzard titles, but for those that like to take a deliberate approach to their strategy will find hours of fun. The price point is a bit steep for what it is, but ultimately I think that this will be a welcome addition to any fan of the Age of Mythology/Age of Empires series.
Review by: Palmer Sturman | Reviewed on: PC