My opinion of the demo:
It had a poor first impression. The graphics looked ok-ish until I updated my drivers (then they looked awesome, even on my middling PC, I definitely think that those who are disappointed with the graphics should go out and update drivers). The campaigns scenerios weren't that fun (but when have you played an Age of Empires for the campaigns? My beef was that they were too short). The skirmish games took a game or two to get used to, but now they are quite fun. The home city idea (once you get enough "cards" to complete more than one "deck") really puts a spin on the genre (as an aside, I hate the terms "card" and "deck"). I love the music in game; I purposely turned the music up higher than the unit sounds just so I can hear it very well as I play. The win music is awesome. Its not very modernistic AoE-style, more classical, which fits the game well.
In defense of the demo: Its my contention that ES games (and their spawn) do not make good demos. Their games aren't flashy and don't have cool storylines (unlike Blizzard games) and at the same time lack the overwhelming compexity of games like RoN. It can definitely feel unwhelming. Its a well-known fact that the SWGB demo poorly represents the game, and I (the self-proclaimed Ensemble fanboy) would not have purchased AoM if I hadn't played the alpha prior to the demo. It sucked that bad (and people said the same things about it too, and I defended it on GB.com much like I am now).
The demo is sort of an open beta, since there won't be a true beta for AoE3. It has a ton of bugs (according to ES, they've already fixed over 1000 since the demo build), people keep finding more. A majority of the complaints you guys have pushed have been addressed, like the treasure guardians not fighting back and the AI not responding well.
And an aside to DMUK (who is an awesome guy who does a ton of stuff for us), I read your post on AoE3H and I think your issue is not your gfx card, but your 256 MB of RAM. Honestly, I think the game looks pretty good on your comp as is, based on your screenshot. It doesn't look as good as the publicity screenshots, but it doesnt look anywhere near that good on my computer either, and I am still impressed by the quality of the graphics. I think the problem is that Ensemble made the choice to support a much larger range of computers than the top-of-the-line FPS's, so there is a much wider range in graphics quality, but the same level of expectation. I guess us RTS gamers aren't used to the idea that a game could look so markedly different on a mid-to-low-range comp from the marketing screenshots taken on behemoth comps, whereas FPS gamers have come to be merely joyful that Half-Life 2 or Doom 3 runs at all.
I know this sounds like an article in a Soviet newspaper, so I'll register my complaints. Parts of the game (especially the pre-driver art style) remind me too much of RoN, which is not a good thing. I am disappointed that they couldn't get the complex formations they had hyped up to be balanced as smoothly as they wanted. The UI shows way too little info for such a massive hunk of screen space. Unit names dont need to be in 72 font. The Gameplay>Realism junky in me is sketchy about the whole throwing torches thing. I kinda liked units hacking away at walls, no matter how crazy it looked. But the torches are cool too, so it evens out. I wish they brought back the AoK style of upgrades instead of sticking with AoM's generic style upgrades (my biggest beef with AoM), although they did back off on that slightly. I wish Ensemble hired someone specifically for the campaign storyline, because, no matter how skilled Greg Street is at game design/balance, he can't write very well, and all the campaigns play like campy movies. I feel overwhelmed with my explorer early on in the game (do I scout, do I raid, do I treasure hunt, do I build trade posts, do I make treaties with the natives), but I guess that makes for interesting decisions. I also wish Ensemble (and all RTS companies do this too) learned to put unique civs in the demo, instead of putting in the similar to the previous game style civs. Its no fun playing as the Brits or the Empire or Zeus or the Orcs or the Terran, when there are cooler civs out there. I miss the superficial 10% type bonuses, mainly because they made things so clear cut (Goths should build infantry, Rebels should farm early), as opposed to the crazy unique bonuses that have a lot of potential but you kinda go "ok, where do I go from here", but thats a personal preference.
My impression of the demo would be 7.5/10, but I think the game itself will get over a 9 from me.
"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."-Albert Einstein
Last edited by Sithmaster_821; 09-12-2005 at 12:27 AM.