Age of Mythology Campaigns: Fall of the Trident

Age of Mythology — StrategyWiki, the video game walkthrough and strategy  guide wiki

I’ve been playing “Age of Mythology” and having a lot of fun. Because of this I plan to give each campaign (DLC or otherwise) and individual review. Story and gameplay are my main draws for games it was fun going to replay the campaign I first beat in High School. I’ll do an overall grade of “Age of Mythology: Extended Edition” once all are complete.

“Age of Mythology” was developed by Ensemble Studios and produced by Microsoft Games.

The story follows Arkantos as he seeks to stop Gargensis and his plot to raise the Titan Kronos using one of the entrances to the Underworld.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Gameplay – I am a huge RTS fan and “Rise of Nations” and “Age of Empires II” were the games that first made me fall in love with this style of game. “Age of Mythology” is like “Age of Empires II” in gameplay as it depends more on balanced large army variety than Hero style strategy of games like “Warcraft III.” I had a great time going back and playing this game on Steam.

The Campaign – The Campaign is simple but it does have a few twists. You have Arkantos seeking to save Atlantis and keep Gargensis from unlocking Kronos from the underworld. From here you get the chance to choose from a variety of Gods and play as the Norse, Egyptian and Greek powers. Each have their own unique strengths which made the game fun.

Mission Variety – One of the stronger parts of the game is the mission variety. You have defense, rescues and protecting the point and moving it along. You start out with different weaknesses in each mission too which kept the game interesting.

Egyptian Campaign – The Egyptian Campaign was one of my favorite as Kemyst and Set remained a constant threat and I felt like an underdog throughout the campaign when Arkantos, Ajax and Chiron teamed up with the Nubian Queen Amanra. She is one of my favorite characters in this series and it was awesome seeing her rise and liberation of Egypt from Kemsyt and Set and the resurrection of Osisris.

Norse Campaign – The Norse campaign is fun but none of the characters stand out as much as Amanra. They make up for this by having some of the best mythic units in the game. I loved fighting with the Valkyrie, Hill, Frost and Fire giants. Their playstyle of soldiers being builders made their campaign interesting too as well as you having to unite all the fighting Norse clans. The underworld sequence here is the best of the bunch as well as you rebuild Thor’s Hammer.

Final Mission – The final mission is a lot of fun as Gargensis destroys your allies camps and you are under constant attack. You make up for this by Zeus blessing Arkantos and defeating the Poseidon statue to finally defeat Gargarensis.

Okay:

Arkantos – Arkantos is pretty bland. He isn’t annoying so I’m not putting him as a con but I can’t think of anything that seperates him from if I’d been given Hercules or Jason as the primary hero to play. He is the ruler of Atlantis and that is the only noteworthy thing about him. He also becomes a God at the end.

The Greek Campaign – The Greek campaign has good variety but is also tedious and has a side quest (saving Odysseus) to end it. I didn’t hate it but I loved the higher stakes in the other campaign. This one felt way too much like an introduction when it could have been more.

The Con:

Kemsyt’s End – Amanra is seeking revenge against Kemsyt and she doesn’t get it since Loki transforms him to look like Gargensis, so Arkantos gets the kill. This annoyed me as they had personal beef and she got shafted from that revenge.

Gargarensis Always Losing – Gragarensis always loses so him being this big world ending threat never felt as big as it could have been. This was a shame as his design as this giant cyclops is great. His working with Loki and Kemsyt was cool too. Sadly I did not get why people followed him. He needed a win that we could see besides his taking of Atlantis at the end.

Bugs – In one mission the game slowed down to the point of nearly being unplayable and the sound looped. It only worked with restarting the game. This game has been out for a long time, there shouldn’t still be bugs like this.

This was a really fun game to return back too and I can’t wait to play the other campaigns. Beyond the awful bug that happened during the Kemos mission I had a lot of fun returning back to this world. As a fan of mythology this gives you a fun chance to experience these mythologies briefly and gives a solid arc with the Atlantis story. I’m curious to see how the other stories hold up compared to this one.

Final Score: 7.5 / 10

“Blood of Zeus” Season 1: A Story With Potential

Blood of Zeus" (2020) movie poster

“Blood of Zeus” is a story with potential. I am a huge fan of mythology and I grew up reading the Greek myths and playing “Age of Mythology.” These are stories that have so much you can do as they were an oral tradition and interpretation is the art of telling a story. Because of this I am hoping this gets a Season 2 as Season 1 did have some stilted dialogue and some flat characters but I did enjoy this 8 episode introduction to the world.

The series was created by Charley and Vlas Parlapinides.

The story follows Heron (Derek Philips), a bastard who discovers the greater origin of his birth while humanity must deal with the rise of Demons, a faction lead by Seraphim (Elias Toufexis) who were formed from the ancient Giants of old.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Premise – The premise is great. We have the Giants as stand-ins for the Titans who Zeus and the Gods defeat but whose bodies aren’t destroyed and corrupt humanity before Hera raises them in her rage against Zeus. It is a lot of fun and fits the drama and tragedy of Greek mythology.

Alexia – Alexia is an Amazon voiced by Jessica Henwick. She largely is there to drive the plot though she does have some good characterization in how she blames herself for the death of her parents. I’m curious to see where her story will be taken if the story continues.

The Giants – The giants remind me a lot of the Titans from “Attack on Titan.” They are these twisted giant humanesque creatures who never speak, just destroy. As forces of nature they work really well and you see the Gods and their followers fall easily to them. They also destroy Olympus too, even if their souls are once again trapped by the end.

Hera and Zeus – There are two core dramas that drive this story and the primary one is that between Zeus and Hera as it is Zeus’s cheating that leads to Hera seeking control of Olympus through bringing back the Giants. She is ruthless but you can see where she comes from and she uses her power of the ravens and air to a great degree. I liked her as the flawed antagonist and was glad she survived the Giants’ betraying her.

Seraphim and Heron – The other drama is that between Seraphim and Heron. These two are brothers and Electra is their mother. Heron is son of Zeus and Seraphim is son of the King of Corinth. Both lose everything including their mother but Heron had Zeus looking after him where Seraphim had no one which lead to his consuming of the Giants to become a Demon. Eventually Seraphim is defeated by Heron and we see that Heron is one of the few he actually cares for. In the end he meets Hades, who gives him a chance at life once more for his loyalty and given he was forced to follow Hera he is once again torn in choosing his own destiny. Heron finds peace on Olympus and discovers his divinity in sacrifice by contrast.

Heron’s Journey – Heron starts out resenting Zeus for not protecting his mother but comes around to respecting Zeus when Zeus starts acting like a father. From here we see him find his wit and intelligence over anger and rage and become the hero that stops the Giants, Hera and Seraphim. It is simple but a good arc.

The Cons:

The Goddesses Left Out – Ares shows up as muscle, Apollo and Hermes play a part as those accepting Heron as a bastard but we do not see Aphrodite, Demeter, Artemis or Athena have no dialogue or play any sort of role in the Civil War between the Gods. I’m sure they showed up but the Vampire Generals in “Castlevania” did more in the brief appearances they had in Season 2 (same studio did this show).

Stilted Dialogue – The dialogue is all tell and no show. So there isn’t any room for interpretation. This is the biggest factor that kept the show from being good as you can only tell so much nuance.

Flat Characters – The stilted dialogue is the reason for this as we are given complex backstories, like two rogues who join Heron and Alexia and become heroes…but we don’t see them ever as bad. So in the end most side characters including Electra end up being flat or plot devices.

I really want to see what “Season 2” brings. You have an entire pantheon of Gods and so many myths to draw inspiration from. It is really in all these things that this could become a great series like “Castlevania.” For now, I just hope it gets renewed, as flawed as it is there is still so much potential.

7 / 10 This was enjoyable and does have potential to be good.

Wonder Woman (2017): DC Finally Finds a Hero

     “Wonder Woman,” is a great. I just need to put that out there now before I get into the reasons why because it really is amazing and if you like comic book or super hero films you will enjoy this film. DC has been having a hard time finding heroes, Superman doesn’t really save anyone in the films he’s been in and when he does it is in a somber way, almost like he hates it…and Batman is beating up criminals and leaving them to die in prison so he isn’t exactly what I’d call a hero either as we never have the chance to connect with the people he is supposedly protecting. Wonder Woman changes all of that in her film. DC finally gives us the much needed hero which in turn may save their cinematic universe.

The film was directed by Patty Jenkins, written by Allan Heinberg and produced by Zack Snyder, Richard Suckle, Deborah Snyder and Charles Roven.

The story involves Diana (Gal Gadot) who is pulled into World War 1 when spy Steve Trevor’s (Chris Pine) plane crashes near her home, the Island of Themyscira. Going against the wishes of her mother Queen Hippolyta, she joins him to seek out and destroy Ares, who she believes is responsible for the War and the peace broken on her Island when Steve arrived.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Premise – The premise is wonderful as we get a fish out of water story as Diana and her Island are outside of the world in a magic bubble. This leads to some great moments where Diana has to adapt to a world full of technology where there is patriarchy in all power structures and her very existence upsets them (as she is a princess from a Matriarchal Island). The premise is not only her hunting down of Ares but her own self discovery and finding her purpose and living what it means to be a hero.

The Universe – Themyscira (the Amazon Island) is an amazing place that looks like an ancient Greek isle where women outside of time train and fight and have representatives and well as Queen ruling them…we have World War 1 and see the horrors of trench and chemical warfare and we have Diana in the present, unaged showing that even as he has changed she is still the Amazon who left that Island long ago.

The Characters – The characters are the best part of the film as each of them reveals contradictions about themselves. Diana is confident and driven, but also unsure and can easily despair. Steve is a spy who lies, smuggles and kills but also will risk everything to stop the greater conflict and the other side characters reveal things about themselves too. My favorite character was Queen Hippolyta’s sister Antiope (played by Robin Wright) who is the Amazon General and went against the rules to train Diana and in the end dies preparing Diana for the fight against Ares…and the commandos who go with Steve and Diana are amazing too as each of them is broken and courageous, each in their own way.

The Horrors of War – The horrors of war and despair it can bring are handled really well in this film. One of the characters we follow has PTSD and another lost his dream when the Great War began. Diana also loses her mentor, her Aunt Antiope to a German soldier when Steve’s plane crashes near the Island…and at one point in one of the best parts of the film, Diana breaks the No Man’s Land in the trenches and saves a starving village…only for the Germans to gas the village…There is so much despair and the hope that we see are in the acts of saving others or simply surviving. War is hell, and this film presents it beautifully.

Okay: The Villains – There is Doctor Poison who we never get to know but is a sociopath only wanting to kill and destroy, we have a war obsessed German General who hams it up well enough but is forgettable…and of course Ares who appears first as an ally and reveals that he didn’t have to corrupt humanity much at all, just push their own destructive urges. Ares is the best of the lot but even he could have been explored a lot more. Each of these villains have potential but like Marvel Phase 1 Villains they are disposable and fail to enhance the story.

The Message – The message is one of hope and love (which is alright in presentation, but seems to have been completely forgotten in her exile) and a call for equality (the message that worked) as Diana simply by existing and standing up for herself, changes the circumstances of those around her. In speaking up and taking action she is the hero…whether it is to Ares, her mother or the British and German Generals.

The Cons: Bullet Time – The action overall would be great if not for the bullet time. There are so many scenes were the action is slowed down and it just hurts the film. There is no reason for them to do this and it doesn’t add anything to the story and just distracts from whatever the focus in the scene should be. This is a Snyderism that should be used sparingly, if used at all.

Diana’s Exile – After Diana defeats Ares, she goes into exile. We never find out what she was doing in between World War 1 and “Batman v. Superman” but for a movie that had her say her message is to bring hope and love to the world…we don’t see any of that and her making that her thesis statement should have been shown, rather than her going underground and only becoming Wonder Women at the end of “Batman v. Superman.”

This movie won’t be in my Top 5 of the year, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is still a favorite. This is a movie that remembered what it means to be a hero as the whole point of Diana joining our world was to protect the weak and fight for the innocent. This was something DC forgot when they started their cinematic universe to compete with the MCU. I hope going forward they can remember it. This is a movie I highly recommend and I hope it not only changes the DC universe but gives us more heroes like Diana in future films as we finally see more of the amazing women that populate the world of heroes.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10