Age of Mythology
Release Date: October 30, 2002
Platform Played On: PC
2018 Placement: #64 (-17)
What It Is:
A real-time strategy game made by the same people who created Age of Empires, but instead of civilizations with normal troops its different mythological pantheons with mythological troops. Greek vs. Egyptian vs. Norse (vs. Atlanteans in the expansion) leads to a pretty fun real-time brawl against computers and friends. Each race has different gods to choose from which extend into a tree of choices for powers. From harnessing Fimbulwinter to summoning the trees of the Hesperides, it’s a venerable cornucopia of mythological references wrapped up in a strategical package.
The game offers a single-player campaign through the mythologies much like Starcraft, Warcraft, Command & Conquer, and other RTSes from the same era. It’s also been updated for modern computers now and supports online multiplayer with your buddies if you’re into that. It’s a solid RTS that is sometimes overlooked in favor of the larger, heavy-hitters in the genre. And the Titans expansion adds a really neat fourth race and a cool mechanic with the Titans, giving each race a monstrous unit they can summon once to deal heaps of damage.
Why It’s Important To Me:
When I think of video games that defined my college experience, there are a few that come readily to mind and Age of Mythology is one of them. There were plenty of days my freshman year where a group of four of us would get together and play over the school’s network in either a 4-player brawl or a co-op match against computers.
Now the thing is, I’m not good at real-time strategy games. I’ve never been able to micromanage effectively or build efficiently. Every time I think I’ve got a good start, a computer will run in with an army three times the size of mine, or one of my friends will do the same, and I’d get flattened or be playing from behind the whole time. It got to the point where we had agreements to not seriously attack each other before a certain phase just to guarantee we all got to play and have fun, instead of knocking everyone out at the beginning and the game ending too fast. It was one of the several games I bonded with my freshman hallmates on and the friends I made were more important than the fact that it was in a genre I generally didn’t care for.
I’m also a huge mythology nut, so the subject matter made it way more appealing as well.
My Strongest Memory:
I remember we were all cheap college kids and we got around having all of us spend money by sharing one original Age of Mythology disc and each just getting the Titans expansion. That way we could all use the expansion disc but not have to worry about also buying the base game. It was an integral part of broke student gaming during the early 2000s PC era.
I remember one of my friends refused to lose outright, and would often send one unit to the corner of the map as he was getting massacred just so he could say he got second place once everyone else got wiped out. (I’m looking at you HarveyZ.) I also remember learning about the Greek hero Bellerophon through this game which would eventually lead me to naming all my smartphones a version of “Bellerophone” b/c I name all my electronics after different mythological heroes or creatures.
There isn’t one particular standout memory, but it does carry a fun nostalgia.
Why It’s #81:
Age of Mythology exists in the weird space of being a game in a genre I don’t particular care for, but still having strong emotional associations. It’s a tug-o-war between my brain and heart as to where I place it every time. Plus I just love all the different mythologies represented in one game like this. I don’t actually know where an RTS aficionado would rank it in terms of gameplay compared to other RTSes, but I do know it’s my favorite and the only one I really tolerate at all. I haven’t played this in years (despite having the remastered version sitting on my computer if my friends ever want to play it again) but would gladly summon some Atlanteans to mine gold if anybody asked.