The expansion pack to last year's outstanding real-time strategy game Age of Mythology includes some big, new additions. Literally. Appropriately titled "The Titans," this add-on lets you summon enormous monstrosities to support your armies in the latter stages of a battle. These creatures are so powerful that only a large, concentrated force, or another titan, can defeat them. Furthermore, The Titans lets you play as an entirely new civilization, Atlantis, in addition to the Greek, Egyptian, and Norse civilizations included in the first game. Atlantis figures prominently in the expansion pack's single-player campaign, and the addition of the completely new civilization fleshes out this complex real-time strategy game in skirmishes both against the computer and against other players.
Atlantis brings its enormous titan to bear against an unfortunately unprepared foe.
Rather than add a smattering of new units and technologies to the existing civilizations, The Titans emphasizes the new fourth civilization and makes few changes to the original civs from Age of Mythology. As with the other factions, you don't just play as "Atlantis" but instead can choose from its three major gods--Kronos (Zeus' father), Oranos (Kronos' father), and Gaia (Oranos' wife). Nine minor gods, including Helios, Atlas, and Prometheus, support the major gods, and you choose from pairs of them as you climb the technology tree during a match. So, just like in Age of Mythology, your choice of major god influences certain key abilities you have while commanding the Atlantean forces, while your choice of minor gods during the course of a match grants you access to various myth units, gives you access to particular god powers, and allows you to research unique technologies exclusive to those gods.
The Atlantean civilization is powerful and fits in quite well with the other three. Its architecture most resembles that of the Greeks, and its myth units look good and are effective. The satyr, for example, hurls armfuls of spears at the enemy ranks and can damage large groups of infantry. The behemoth resembles a dinosaur and can knock buildings down with just a few powerful head-butts. Automatons are animated suits of armor, resistant to damage and capable of repairing each other. Prometheans are living lumps of clay, which, when killed, split into two smaller prometheans that continue the fight. These and the other myth units are among the most colorful of the Atlantean forces (as well as the strongest), but of course, Atlantis has a standard arsenal of swordsmen, archers, cavalry, siege weapons, and ships--much like the other civs. These have names like "katapeltes" and "murmillo," but they're immediately recognizable for what they are--especially since Age of Mythology provides such thorough information about each unit in the context of the game.
Ironically, it's easier to play as the Atlanteans than as any of the other Age of Mythology civilizations. Rather than try to appeal to experienced Age of Mythology players looking for an even greater challenge, Ensemble apparently took a step back and made Atlantis a bit more accessible than some of the other civs, particularly the Egyptians and the Norse. When playing as the Atlanteans, you have less resource management to worry about than you do as the other civs--a distinction that purists may not necessarily appreciate, but one that seems consistent with how real-time strategy games are evolving. At any rate, rather than have to mass worker units on food, wood, and gold like the other civilizations invariably need to, and rather than build special structures (or in the Norse's case, ox carts) as drop-off points for those resources, the Atlanteans have self-reliant, highly efficient villagers at their command. These villagers gather food, wood, and gold faster than any of the other civs, and they don't need to drop it off anywhere, either. To offset this tremendous advantage, Atlantean villagers are significantly more costly than those of the other civs, and obviously, they make very tempting targets throughout a match.
This new civilization has a few other distinct advantages. Atlantis is the only civilization that can build expansion bases without having to advance in age first, an ability that's encouraged, since the Atlanteans gain favor from the gods (the resource used for summoning myth units) at a rate that increases as they build more town centers. Atlantis can also reuse some of its god powers multiple times in a match, though stronger powers can be used fewer times and less often. Also, the Atlanteans have the option of converting any of their human units into hero units at a moment's notice, but at a fairly significant cost in resources. Fighting units that are heroes are stronger than normal but are especially good for countering enemy myth units; yet even villagers can be heroes, making them even more efficient than they already are. Since Atlanteans can bring hero units to bear at any time, as long as they have spare resources and an army of human units available, they're very effective against opponents who rely too heavily on myth units.
Atlantis has the easiest time of gathering resources, and is very effective against enemy myth units.
Like other aspects of the civilization, Atlantis' structures are quite streamlined. Rather than have their fighting forces split between a barracks, an archery range, a stable, and a siege workshop, the primary Atlantean human units all come from the barracks, while the counter-units are trained from the appropriately named counter barracks. Likewise, all the armor and weapons upgrades come from the armory structure, while the trade guild is used for all resource and economic upgrades--easy enough. Atlantis' other buildings, such as the temple, the shipyard, and the guard tower, are analogous to those of the other civilizations.
At its core, Atlantis really isn't as unusual or distinctive as the other civs in Age of Mythology, particularly the Norse or the Egyptians. One of the new features in this expansion (available to all the civs) is the ability to set a limitless queue. Once you've got your heroic villagers cranking away and the resources are piling on, you can set your barracks and your temples to start churning out units like nobody's business, and then throw all these units at your enemy and see who wins. Of course, there's a lot more to Age of Mythology than that, but the Atlanteans certainly are conducive to a simplistic playing style.