Age of Wind 3 is an action/adventure game for your Windows Phone that reminds me of a scaled back version of Sid Meier's Pirates! The game has more cartoonish graphics, lacks some of the side games (sword play, dancing, land battles, etc.) than Pirates! but the gaming concept comes close.
With Age of Wind 3 you sail the Caribbean traveling to over 35 ports of call, take on hundreds of quests, buy and trade goods, recruit sailors, build up your fleet and, as you would guess, battle pirates. Age of Wind 3 also includes Facebook integration where you can battle your Facebook friends on the high seas.
Available for low-memory devices, Age of Wind 3 is an entertaining gaming title for your Windows Phone. It is a nice option to consider when you need a little help passing the time or when you are in the mood for a more lengthier gaming session.
Hitting the High Seas
Age of Wind 3 lacks a traditional main menu but instead, when you first launch the game, takes you to a series of tutorials that cover ship combat, general movement and what you can expect at each port. Beyond that, the game follows a "learn as you go" approach.
You will have a small collection of colorful characters popping in from time to time to share information on a mission or new gaming aspect but otherwise, the game lacks a dedicated help section.
The general premise of the game has you sailing around the Caribbean in search of treasure, a good fight here and there, as well as buying/selling goods. There are hundreds of missions or quests you can pursue that range from defeating a notorious pirate to finding buried treasure.
As you play Age of Wind 3, you will need to upgrade your ships whenever possible and make sure you have plenty of rum on board. You see your crew survives on rum (a strict liquid diet) and when you run out, don't be surprised if the crew abandons ship.
There is a good bit of gaming involved with Age of Wind 3 and it may be best to cover it all by covering the three main gaming screens.
Age of Wind 3's navigational map is where, as you would guess, you plot your course and send your ship sailing. The layout of the screen has your crew and rum numbers in the upper left corner of the screen, your experience top center and your gold and trophy count in the upper right corner.
A settings cog sits in the lower left with a ships wheel located in the lower right. Settings cover sound/music on or off, language, choosing the detail of the water and choosing the Windows Phone accelerometer during battles. The ship's wheel has four options scattered across its spokes that includes:
- Abilities: These are your gaming abilities that can be upgraded as you gain experience. They include such attributes as maneuverability of your ships, gun recharge time, critical hit chances and more.
- Fleet: Here you can view your fleet of ships. Age of Winds will let you control up to three ships, which will give your cargo capacity a nice boost, and help you take on the stronger pirate fleets.
- Map: While the navigation screen will map out your general vicinity, the map view will give you a full view of the Caribbean and let you target an area to navigate to. Any available quests will be marked with an exclamation mark on the big map.
- Quests: At the center of the ship's wheel you will see a scroll with a number on it. This will take you to your active quest list.
Movement on the navigation screen is easy. You can plot a course on the big map and a dotted line will appear on the navigational screen. You can also tap anywhere on the screen create a line to follow. Regardless how the line is created, tap on the screen once to mark where you want your ship to go and tap that point a second time to send your ship on its way.
Scattered about the navigational screen are pirate ship strongholds and buried treasure markers. You also run the risk of being ambushed by pirates as you move from point A to point B. Pirate fights include battles where it is just your fleet against the pirates or where you are helping other fleets defeat the pirates. Completing quests, battling pirates or finding buried treasure will earn you gold, trophy points and experience. All of which can be used to upgrade your fleet, buy rum or stock up on cargo to sell for profit.
The layout of the ship battle screen has your crew and cargo count in the upper left corner, your experience in the center and a pause button in the upper right corner. Your ships damage meter is displayed beneath each ship. Friendly ships will have a yellow health meter and a yellow marker will indicate their position off screen. Enemy ships are marked in red.
You control your ships steering with two directional arrows are in the lower left corner and your cannon fire buttons sit in the lower right corner. If you prefer to control your ship with your Windows Phone accelerometer, you can change the controls in the game's settings. I found the directional arrows worked best but be careful as you press the left arrow, your finger may stray to high on the screen and activate your notifications center.
In combat, you control the strongest of your ships. If your fleet has more than one ship, the other ships sail seem to do their own thing during combat. Should your strongest ship go down in battle, you'll take control of the next strongest ship in your fleet.
The canon range is highlighted on either side of the ship and as the enemy ships come into range, you tap the cannon button to let loose your cannons. You also have bonus weapons you can use that range from exploding barrels to summoning sea creatures. These special weapons will cost you trophy points.
As ships are destroyed cargo will float in the water for a short time. Some of the cargo items are health points and some are booby traps (flashing red boxes). To collect the abandoned cargo or health points, just sail your ship over those boxes.
While the combat controls are simple, movement can be a little sluggish. Then again, these ships couldn't turn on a dime in real life so why should we expect them to do so in a video game. The biggest downside to the combat screen is there lacks a reload meter. For the most part you have to keep pressing the fire button in hopes that your crew has reloaded the guns.
Some battles can be won by going toe to toe with an enemy ship while others you may have to hit and run to survive. Be careful and avoid running your ship aground during battle and some battle grounds have forts close by that will unleash their cannons on you.
Port of Call
While sailing around the Caribbean has its high points, you will need to set anchor and visit the 35+ ports on the map. Here you can buy/sell cargo, replenish your rum, recruit more sailors, upgrade your ships and get clues that will help you complete your quests.
The port screen has your experience, crew count, rum count, gold and trophy count displayed across the top of the screen. The various stops in each port are labeled (some graphic glitches were present) and to visit an area, just tap on the label. The four areas you can visit at each port include:
- Shipyard: Here is where you build new ships for your fleet.
- Market: Buy and sell cargo for profit as well as buy rum to keep your crew happy.
- Tavern: Here is where you recruit new crew members, play a mini-game and challenge your Facebook friends.
- Set Sails: Head back to the dock, board your ship and hit the high seas.
In the bottom right corner is a ships wheel that includes the abilities menu you find on the navigational screen, quest list and your ship upgrade menu. If you have a fleet of ships, you'll need to swipe down the ship row to upgrade each ship.
If there is a clue to a quest present in the port you are visiting, an exclamation mark will be present and when tapped, a dialog series will start detailing clues, hints or directions on how to complete the quest.
While there is a lot to Age of Wind 3, it isn't a very difficult game to pick up on. The graphics are nice and game play challenging. You also have plenty of pirates to battle and quests to solve which gives Age of Wind 3 a good bit of staying power. I would have liked to have seen the game have the ability to swear allegiance to a country or run your ships under a pirates flag, giving the game a bit of a personal touch.
The only downsides to the game is the lack of a dedicated help section, a few graphic glitches and the lack of a reload meter on the battle screen. Neither are detrimental and Age of Wind 3 isn't a difficult game to figure out. It may take a few turns at the game but not difficult.
Keep in mind this doesn't mean the game is without challenge. As you move up in experience, the ship battles can be tough to survive.
All in all, if you are looking for an action/adventure game to keep your hands full for a while, Age of Wind 3 is worth checking out. The game receives 4.5 stars in the Windows Phone Store and in playing Age of Wind 3 over the past few days, we won't argue with that rating.
- Age of Wind 3 - Windows Phone 8 - 69MB - Free - Store Link