Age of Empires 3 was released in October 2005 by the developer Ensemble Studios. It runs on the platforms of Microsoft Windows, MacOS, Windows Mobile, and N-Gage. It is the third major installment of the series Age of Empires. It can be played in single and multiplayer mode.
The game is a depiction of the European Colonization in the Americas set in the years 1492 to 1876 right after where Age of Empires II left off. The plot of the game is divided into three acts following the black family. Act I is named Blood depicting the Spanish civilization set in the 16th century. Act II is Ice, depicting the German Civilization with elements of the French civilization set in the 18th century. Finally, Act III is entitled Steel depicting the British Civilization in the United States in the 19th century.
Gameplay is a real-time strategy structure combined with a role-playing feature in managing the Home City. Players are initially allowed to select a civilization to be played and another to play against. These are the Spanish, British, French, Portuguese, Dutch, Russians, Germans, and Ottomans. Players can choose in almost 30 maps for the setting and level of difficulty as well. Initially, a player will be provided with a town center, explorer, and settlers. The goal is to explore the map, gather resources — food, coins, or wood, construct more military and resource buildings, upgrade technologies, and train units to kill enemies and be powerful enough to destroy the entire enemy colony.
The game can be played in various speeds and advances through different Ages throughout the plot. These are the Discovery Age, Colonial Age, Fortress Age, Industrial Age, and Imperial Age. Politicians are unlocked in every Age advancement providing bonuses to the player. Defeating opponents can increase the player’s experience points. Shipment cards are earned for every experience threshold gained which entitles the player’s team to free units, resources, and upgrades from their Home City. Customization can be done but only up to 20 bonuses, these cards are however stackable. Cards are categorized into five according to the main buildings found in their Home City. The New World Trading Company focuses on resource bonuses. Cards from the Military Academy are used for military upgrades. Cathedral cards are used for upgrades as well focusing on buildings and unit training. Manufacturing Plant cards are used for economic upgrades. Lastly, Harbor cards are used both for ships and mercenaries.
The game can be played in three available strategies: Turtle, Boom, and Rush. Rushing involves setting up military units as soon as possible with all the resources available. This then makes attacking enemies easier without an established defense which also helps in slowing down their economy. Booming is focusing on the economy as soon as the game initializes. Advances in research offer stronger military upgrades. Finally, Turtling involves hiding from enemies and gathering resources until toward the end an attack will be launched while the enemy is on its weak point. Every civilization has specific characteristics and culture that can make each strategy easier or harder.