Age of Mythology: Tale of the Dragon (PC) Review

By Ian Soltes 04.02.2016

Review for Age of Mythology: Tale of the Dragon  on PC

Who could have guessed? It was over a decade ago that a young but promising series, Age of Mythology, received its last expansion; then something changed and, before long, Ensemble Studios went down. Fortunately, the series is now back, in a completely unexpected turn-around with a brand new expansion that brings Chinese mythology into the mix!

Real-time strategies are very common and easy to find and one of the best is so well known that even the first three letters of its name will tell people exactly which one that is (hint: war). Age of Mythology, however, was different. Hailing from the studio that had brought the beloved Age of Empires franchise, it had so much potential and it delivered on all of it. Three distinctly different pantheons (later upped to four), with different methods of play and completely different units, even from other civilizations that had picked the same starting deity, it was a unique beast; a beloved beast.

Unfortunately, it soon became like its namesake and vanished to be only spoken of by those few old gamers in hushed tones and fond remembrance… and now it is back. Tale of the Dragon charges headlong into the mists of obscurity, aiming to bring the series to the public eye, and show the world that, along with the recent Age of Empires II expansion, the series is alive again! Does it succeed? Yes… but not quite to the same degree.

Screenshot for Age of Mythology: Tale of the Dragon  on PC

Firstly, the positive: bringing in a new civilization is a very difficult thing. With how drastically different the four other civilizations played, simply finding something unique for the Chinese to do would be hard. It was found, however. The Chinese are a civilization that seems to focus heavily on versatility and resource gathering and nowhere is this clearer than in the manner that they gather favour. Instead of worshiping, building monuments, fighting, or holding town centres, they build gardens. Gardens can be tasked to gather any one resource and tasking them to favour is the only way for the Chinese to gather favour. When they cap out, gardens can be assigned to any one of the other resources instead of favour. Additionally the Chinese units seem to have an unusual focus on death with at least two of their units having a distinct focus on hurting the enemy/healing other units by dying.

Then the problem comes. The Chinese are overpowered as heck. While this will probably be fixed later on, their god powers, mythical units, and gardens, are simply on a level that the other civilizations can't hope to truly match, like in how the vermillion bird causes sweeping infernos on-par with small-scale god powers, or how Chinese monks can outright convert enemy units, something that previously only a certain god-power could do. While they do have a bit of early-game weakness, their later-game prowess is simply overwhelming.

Surprisingly, the new Chinese campaign is actually underwhelming. On its own it might have been good, except that the Chinese only fight other Chinese civilizations, and the Greeks, Egyptians, Norse, and Atlanteans aren't even mentioned until the final battle of the campaign and, even then, not in a major way. It's basically a cameo appearance. On the whole, though, the addition of a whole new civilization, the new variety it brings, the revival of yet another long-thought-lost series, and the astounding joy of simply having this game series back, trumps almost everything else.

Screenshot for Age of Mythology: Tale of the Dragon  on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

The real problem with this expansion is that the amount of content doesn't feel balanced. The Chinese campaign might have been fine, but it didn't even touch on the four prior civilizations and didn't feel like it expanded the world. The added civilization is great and it's nice to see the game grow after such dormancy, but it's also overpowered. The good more than outweighs the bad, however, and, with luck, the 'Age of' series will return in full-on glory!


SkyBox Labs


Microsoft Game Studios





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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