Age of Mythology is a spin-off from the Age of Empires series. It had similar town-building structure and similar units, but veered away from the traditional realism of the Age of Empires series. Rather, it was based in ancient Earth, where there were real Gods, and followed consistent, original storylines through characters and in-game cinematics. Also, while it shared some Tropes with Age of Empires, it contained many which weren't applicable to the mother series.The plot of the original game follows Arkantos, an Atlantean Admiral who battled monsters in his time but is getting old, and since no one's really attacking Atlantis, he doesn't have much to do. That is, until Atlantis is attacked by strange monsters and men in black ships, prompting Arkantos to go off to Troy and help Agamemnon finish the Trojan War to curry favor with Poseidon. After taking Troy and sailing to Greece for repairs, they stumble on a plot by Gargarensis, a cyclops demigod who is trying to help Poseidon release Kronos from Tartarus. Naturally, Arkantos needs to stop him, and to do that, he journeys from Atlantis, to Greece, through the Underworld, to Egypt, up to Scandinavia, then back to Atlantis.The Titans expansion, set 10 years after the original, adds one more civilization and only a third as many missions as the original game. It revolves around Arkantos' son Kastor being tricked into weakening the gods by destroying their monuments so Kronos can escape Tartarus.There's also a much lesser-known tabletop game made by Eagle Games.The game will also receive an Updated Re-release on Steam in May 2014, known as Age of Mythology: Extended Edition.
Tropes used include:
Action Figure Speech: The models do this, though their gestures are actually rather sensible. Arkantos in particular spends a lot of time facepalming at Ajax's stupidity.
Age of Titles: Continues the trend from Age of Empires, obviously.
A Kind of One: Many unique creatures from mythology became standard unit types that you can train any number of. A certain snake-headed woman with a petrifying gaze may offer the most egregious example: these Greek myth units are named Medusae, a pluralization of Medusa... even though Medusa herself was actually one of three sisters called "Gorgons". The developers already had a perfectly good generic species name at their disposal, but they chose to enforce A Kind of One instead!
Oddly, the game Subverts this too, notably with the Norse Fenris Brood and Jormund Elver, which are noted to be the offspring of Fenrir and the Jormongund, respectively.
Anachronism Stew: Needless to say, the Greeks, Egyptians and Norse come from different time periods and are themselves a mash-up of various eras from Antiquity.
Arbitrary Headcount Limit: There is a Population Limit, and Mythology added "each unit uses X people" - i.e. a villager counts as one, a soldier counts as two, but a Nemean Lion as 3. One of the few where villagers cost different from soldiers.
Though the Limit is enforced a little differently than in previous 'Age of' games. Instead of setting a Population Limit, the game instead limits how many 'Population Buildings' you can build (10 houses and only as many Town Centers as there are Settlements on the map)
Army of the Dead: The "Ancestors" god power, which temporarily raises either a small army of undead soldiers if used on land or a small fleet of ghost ships if used on water. Also, the mechanic whereby the Hades-worshiping Greeks randomly recieve free "shade" units (exempt from the Arbitrary Head Count Limit) whenever they lose a normal soldier.
Arrows on Fire: Burning Pitch upgrade for archers. Does bonus damage against buildings, but does nothing against units. Still looks awesome.
Attack! Attack! Attack!: The preferred strategy of the Nords, who gain favor by actually fighting. Their buildings are also built by infantry, which makes it easy for them to build forward bases. In addition, their laborers can be converted into Heroes using a God power, or into infantry when using dwarves.
Badass Normal: If upgraded to heroes, the Atlantean Citizens are perfectly capable of holding off myth units that would kill ordinary infantry.
Bears Are Bad News: Besides the ones you hunt for food (use many villagers, at least one will get killed!), a cheat gives you a "Lazer Bear", which has monkeys and the Lazer Bear is described as making demands from world governments, and the only way to kill the Canadian Ultimate Bear is to spam it to death using cheap military units or use the Traitor god power. Titans will be obliterated slowly without the slow regeneration of Hecate versus the hyperspeed regeneration of Lazer Bear, Prometheus, Gaea and anything healing or repair post-hyperspeed building cheat.
Big Bad: Gargarensis in the original, Kronos and his shape-shifting servant (named Krony in the scenario builder) in the expansion.
Big Badass Bird of Prey: The Rok is an aversion, as he simply act as a transport. There are also the Egyptian Phoenixes, which are on fire and the Atlantenean Stymphalian birds.
The Big Guy: Ajax in the original campaign. He was even bigger in the original myths.
Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Blue for the good guys, and red for the bad. This is a plot point in a scenario that takes place in Arkantos's dreams where he unwittingly destroys Atlantis. His first clue that something is off is that he is dressed in red, the enemy colors.
Arkantos: A giant fortress in the middle of the countryside, protecting a huge pits which leads...here'...and a cyclops that rains fire on us from the skies... I'm starting to think this might not be a 'bandit' we're dealing with, Chiron.
Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud: Surprisngly averted; the Tornado god power will damage buildings and suck up units (which is a One-Hit Kill, of course) on either side of the path it takes, so don't think you can just "dodge" the twister when it comes. It's actually not the Game Breaker it sounds like, as the path is completely random; it's just as likely to devastate the enemy base as it is to turn left and miss the base entirely, only taking out a few cheap sentry towers.
In the expansion campaign, Krios is this to Kronos.
Deus ex Machina: The gameplay of the game actually requires the player to invoke this trope, as you gain the powers of the gods you worship. Thereby, a completely standard battle between spearmen and hoplites, as a historical battle would be, could end with a rain of meteors bumping down on one of the sides. Or a thunderstorm. Or a horde of locusts. Or a plague of serpents. or a tornado. The possibilities are endless.
Discontinuity Nod: One of the taunts you can send to other players is a guy asking "What happened to all the stone?" in bewilderment, a reference to how one of the resources from the previous game, Stone, was replaced by Favor.
Not to mention him being able to destroy all the enemy bases on his own. At that point, you can basically let him attack-move through the entire map and focus on defending your base and fortifying areas Arkantos just passed.
Everybody Hates Hades: In the first campaign, most bad guys either were aligned with Hades, Set and Loki (the last two being less assholish in earlier versions of their mythologies). Subverted that the real bad guys are working for Poseidon and Kronos, while Hades himself is not evil (in fact, he never shows up).
Hades actually helps the heroes a bit in the campaign.
Everything's Squishier With Cephalopods: The Kraken. Therefore, the sound anything with a large amount of crushing damage over piercing or slash damage on anything that isn't explicitly non-fleshy with a high crush resistance. You hear the squishing.
Taking into account the Titans expansion: Greeks (Balanced) Egyptians, (Subversive) Norse (Powerhouse) Atlanteans (Cannon)
Alternatively, each faction has an area of specialty: Greeks - Balanced Egyptians - Human Soldiers Norse - Myth Units Atlanteans - Heroes
Fanservice: Is it necessary for the drawing of most of females within the game to have large breasts? Or the goddesses to be Stripperiffic? And it's not just the girls - Apollo's image pictures him pretty much naked until a few centimeters above his crotch, and Anubis has a quite well defined chest...
Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Atlanteans, while retaining some Greek elements also have a general aesthetic reminiscent of Ancient Rome and even the Byzantine Empire.
Fire and Brimstone Hell: Erebus. Tartarus - the part where the Titans are imprisoned - is never shown, but presumably it's much the same. Interestingly, the Norse refer to it as Niflheim, which in actual myth was more like a Frost And Icicles Hell.
Finish Him!: When Arkantos's army defeat "Gargarensis"'s in the Norselands, the heroes manage to capture "Gargarensis" (take note of the quotation marks; he's actually Kemesyt, but transfigured into the form of Gargarensis via Loki's trickery magic. In the end, Ajax even resorts to asking Arkantos whether or not to put him in a cage somewhere in Atlantis, rather than cutting off his head. Arkantos refuses, saying he has done too much against the Atlanteans, and orders to kill him. Ajax chops off his head with a large axe, with no remorse.
Flavor Text: Every unit has large amounts of historical (or not so historical) explanation, and myth units usually have their original myths explained.
With a healthy helping of tongue-in-cheek taxonomic data on the part of the myth units, no less.
Foreshadowing: During the opening cutscene, when the temple begins collapsing, it is Poseidon's trident that breaks from his statue and almost crushes the protagonist.
Gaia's Vengeance: Gaia helps the heroes fight the Big Bad throughout the campaign by granting them the use of her powers to weaken the power of the Titans. She also appears in person to fight Kronos, and helps to imprison him once again.
Giant Spider: Leto's Divine Power summons some spider's eggs which hatch in full grown ground spiders. They'll catch and drag a single enemy soldier underground, and then disappear.
Glass Cannon: Phoenixes can make a short work of anything without ranged attacks with their area-damaging fire breath, but once they're confronted by some archers they won't last long.
God's Hands Are Tied: Justified by Athena when she tells Arkantos that the gates that imprison Kronos can only be opened by the hands of a mortal, and that direct intervention by Zeus could spark off a war among the gods.
Favor is a resource you acquire through worship. Greek gods are worshiped in temples, Egyptian gods are worshiped by constructing monuments, Norse gods are worshipped by fighting, Atlantean gods by controlling town centers.
If you play with the Major Greek God Zeus you start out with half of your max favor already waiting, which is the max you can get for the other gods.
There are also upgrades you can purchase to gain Favor faster.
This shows up in the story of the expansion, as well. At one point, our plucky hero causes Mount Olympus to collapse without even trying (too hard) because there's not enough belief floating around. It's also why the seal on the Titans' prisons is weakening.
Kronos, and the rest of the Titans apart from Gaia.
In the first game, Poseidon for siding with Kronos.
Gravity Sucks: Atlas' divine power, Implode. It summons a black hole that indiscriminately sucks in units and distorts nearby buildings and trees. Once it has had its fill (or if there is nothing to left to suck in), it explodes, releasing the units that were hardy enough to survive and damages the nearby buildings as they rebound back into their original shape.
Hellgate: Five kinds: one the Atlanteans can build one as a passage although it looks more heavenly (it is a sky passage), the Tartarus Gates, Apollo's Underworld Passage, the decorative or plot passage that can't be used, and the Titan Gate.
Heroic Sacrifice: Chiron pulls one, by causing a rockslide that traps him with a bunch of giants but allows the other Heroes to escape This may be a form of Gameplay and Story Segregation, as it is mentioned that Chiron is immortal.
Idiot Ball: The entire Titans campaign is the result of this; after the Atlanteans are strangely attacked by two Greek scouts when they first set up camp on New Atlantis, Castor responds by invading Greece, Egypt and Scandinavia; which inadvertently allows some of the Titans to escape their prison. At no point do the Atlanteans consider that the Greeks may have attacked them because they were in the middle of repairing temples to the Titans; which one Atlantean soldier even remarked was forbidden barely ten seconds before the Greeks attacked.
I Surrender, Suckers: Loki and Gargarensis order to Arkantos' forces to surrender in exchange for a quick death. Cue Ajax impaling the herald with a ballista dart and shouting "We surrender! Come a little closer!"
Interservice Rivalry: While it isn't really mentioned through the game, the information on the Murmillo and Destroyer Atlantean units state the two units are rivals.
Kraken and Leviathan: The former is a giant octopus and the Mythical unit of Njord. The latter looks like a giant red whale with tiny arms and can carry troops around like a transport, and can be hired by the Egyptians.
Large Ham: Several campaign characters exhibit this trait, but Ajax' rants about pulling peoples heads off, and also Gargarensis once something goes bad for him, stands out. Especially if Gargarensis follows up with an Evil Laugh.
The Norse Hersir units are shown by names, which are randomly generated from a pool of first names and last name parts. It is possible, through editing some text files, to addsomemorevariety in Hersir names. Some examples include "Hamal Refreshingbeveragemaker", "Hrolf Eggpuncher", and "Egill Griffonminer".
There is also the possibility for the more badass "Surtr Firesword", which is something of a literal Mythology Gag, being a fire giant in Norse mythology which... has a Flaming Sword.
The surname "Womanlicker" shows up occasionally as well.
The Man Behind the Man: Several levels. Gargarensis is the man behind Kamos, Poseidon is the man behind Gargarensis, and Kronos is the man behind him.
Man-Eating Plant: Oceanus' power summons a giant carnivorous plant on both land and sea. Said plant possess a special attack, allowing them to eat a enemy soldier alive.
Near Victory Fanfare: When you finally get your army and your myth units and your siege engines together for one last huge battle against the enemy base, the music changes to a truly epic orchestral piece. This also plays briefly when you unleash a particularly devastating God Power (like Horus' Tornado or Artemis' Earthquake)
Nintendo Hard: The Titan difficulty on Random Maps, with the AI set to Attacker. The AI opponents are brutally efficient, and will have easily both outclassed and outnumbered players who were used to the (comparatively) leisurely pace of Campaign maps. If you haven't got a working, fully stocked army by the 15 minute mark, you may as well throw in the towel, as the odds are high that your foe's legions are already en route.
No Cure for Evil: The Big Bad for both campaigns are affiliated with Poseidon and Kronos respectively. Poseidon and Kronos get no access to healing in any method altogether. (All Egyptians get Priests and Loki still has access to Healing Spring if Forseti is chosen)
Non-Standard Character Design: All of the Titans in the expansion pack look like humans (Barring Oceanus who is a Fishman, but look at the name) except Kronus who looks like a giant rock demon.
Ominous Latin Chanting: The menu themes. This is also the sound of the "Age of Mythology theme song", played intensly, epic, mild Grecian piece, and others.
One-Hit Kill: Some powers and special abilities works like this, like the Medusas' petrifying gaze, Argo's acidic tears, Leto's spiders or the Mummy's sorcery. Zeus' Lightning power is also an instant one hit kill for anything you target, aside from Titans, which it will heavily damage.
Power Creep: The Atlanteans have a few examples of this, the most obvious being that their god powers can be used multiple times (though, granted, a lot of them aren't as powerful as the one-use god powers the other guys get)
Public Domain Artifact: The Relics system is taken from Age of Empires, but in this case each relic is a unique object that gives you a different benefit. They range from "the Nose of the Sphinx" and "Trojan Gate Hinge" to the more whimsical "Boots of Kick Everything".
Purple Is The New Black: In the cinematics, the "evil smokes" are usually purple and black; Kronos has purple-black smoke oozing from his body, his shapeshifting servant arrives with a purple-black smoke, and transforms from Krios to his demonic self in a puff of purple and black energies.
Rage Against the Heavens: The Big Bad does this, in order to freeKronos. It's up to the heroes to stop him. Also, when Kastor goes to Mount Olympus and proceeds to destroy it with Atlantean armies and Myth Units from all cultures.
Reinventing the Wheel: You have to keep redeveloping technologies. Who cares if you've already "researched" the Ax 20 times before, do it again in this level!
Regional Riff: When you start a game you hear something vaguely appropriate to the nation you chose to play.
Rock Monster: The titan Perses is seemingly made of magma and crystals.
Shout-Out: When you play as the Egyptians, you might get a pharaoh named Bubbahotep.
Shown Their Work: Everything, from the trees, to the cows, to the rocks, to the Cyclops have optional descriptions for you to read. You can even access the in-game encyclopedia from the main menu just for some information.
The city of Atlantis is shown as built on a hill, divided into tiers with fountains between them, accurate to the original myth but often overlooked.
Sadly Mythtaken: In spite of what they get right, they do get a few things wrong. One example is the Flavor Text for the Dragonscale Shields upgrade, which identifies Grendel as a dragon.
Silliness Switch: The cheat codes, which provide things like the 'Chicken Meteor' God Power and a Canadian super-bear that can insta-kill just about every other unit.
The Smurfette Principle: Isis is the only playable goddess in the original version of the game (the Titans expansion adds Gaia).
Something Completely Different: The mission midway through the original campaign that takes place in Arkantos' dreams, which exists mainly as a framework for Athena to provide exposition on Gargarensis' plot. Also, the mission on Circe's island, which also serves as a humorous Breather Episode between the Egyptian and Norse segments of the campaign.
Stealth-Based Mission: More like Stealth-Based Objective, really. A mission in the first chapter of the main campaign has Arkantos, Ajax, and Odysseus sneaking through Troy after infiltrating it in The Horse. Since there's only three of you, you are encouraged to avoid fights. This only lasts until you reach the gates, which aren't all that far.
Stealth Hi/Bye: In the second mission of the 'Golden Gift' campaign, Skult pulls this off with Eitri. When the dwarf begins his rant, the man turns and walks behind the Town Center...and promptly disappears. Even better, this happens during the camera swing that happens at the beginning of every campaign, so he quite literally teleports from behind the buildings. It is impossible for him to do anything else. Granted, 'Skult' is, in fact, Loki, so he has an excuse.
Story Overwrite: If you somehow manage to defeat the final boss without using demigod Arkantos, the final cutscene will show Arkantos finishing off the boss anyway.
Summon Bigger Fish: This is how the Titans' threat is stopped in the expansion: the Anubis Guardian is used againts Cerberus in Egypt, Nidhogg is released against the Nordic Titan (though it's possible to defeat it without summoning the dragon) and Prometheus and Kronos are defeated by the power of Gaia.
Infantry > Cavalry > Archers > Infantry as well as Heroes > Beasts > Normals > Heroes. The explicitness of this various, with many baseline units beating their opponents due to statistical superiority against them (most cavalry will be heavily outnumbered by melee infantry, while the melee infantry will tend to take a lot of damage from archers' piercing attacks while running up to them, archers' range advantage is neutralized by cavalry's high speed and superior stats for a head-on fight), while dedicated counter units tend to have low stats and only beat their desired targets due to doing bonus damage against them.
Many units exist defy this system, the Norse in particular screw things up royally: they have no archers at all, instead they have a ranged unit that is considered infantry, on top of that their anti-archer unit is also infantry. Basically, whatever you build the Norse can always counter with some form of infantry.
On a grander scheme: Myth Units > Normal Units > Hero Units > Myth Units. Though hero units are typically stronger than normal units, they're not worth the cost if they cannot fight myth units.
Again the Norse mix things up. They have a normal cavalry unit with a bonus against myth units.
Titan > Everything. Technically, Titans count as normal myth units and do have a negative damage multiplier against heroes and siege weapons. It just does so much damage that multipliers matter little. Spamming heroes is the suggested way to defeat a Titan in a random map. When cheating, spam other titans or a single Lazer Bear (because Bears Are Bad News) and send in other units at you leisure. Flying units will cause an insane amount of damage over time due to the fact that other than a plot cutscene with Prometheus and a Roc, it is impossible for the majority of stronger units to attack them due to the fact they are flying, and can redirect the dumber of AIs into your gigantic trap fortification.
It's a bit more explicit in the board game; certain units get extra hit dice against other types of units according to their classification.
Theme Park Version: Norse warriors are portrayed as Horny Vikings, and the Valkyries are unmistakably Wagnerian, right down to their white horses (as opposed to the wolves they ride in the original myths). The Greeks buildings have the iconic (but inaccurate) pure white columns, and many of the Greek myth units are quite obviously based on the Ray Harryhausen films:
Cyclopse have furry legs, hooves, and a single horn as in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.
Medusa fights with a bow and arrow, and has a snake body below the waist as in Clash of the Titans.
Tech Tree: A twist on the tech trees from Age of Empires and Age of Kings by making a different one for all civilizations in the style of Starcraft. Mythology adds a further twist by making you choose one of two gods for each age (3 for the first, which determine the available minor gods). Each of them offers an unique god power, myth units and upgrades. The base tech tree on the other hand is practically identical among all races and main gods - the names and images are different, but what they do is mostly interchangeable.
Theme Music Power-Up: The soundtrack gets action-based when you use some devastating god power like Meteor, or when you order your troops are in close proximity to a fortress or town center they're attacking. The latter starts with hearing men yell out a War Cry to help pump you up.
Subverted somewhat by the Egyptians, who can build the basic buildings at no resource cost, and can build almost any building without wood (although most require gold or food) Presumably they are using mud bricks and paid labour.
You Shall Not Pass: When Arkantos and Co. are being chased by Fire Giants, Chiron kicks down a nearby large boulder, sealing off the path between the Giants (and, unfortunately, himself) and the heroes, allowing escape. So, he's presumably killed by the Fire Giants. Which makes no sense because he is immortal.
The Norse seem based around this strategy. They can make their basic soldier unit from town centers, this tactic can cripple an opponent early in the game by wiping out his villagers. Their buildings are weak so they rely on rush tactics to gain and keep an early advantage in the game. And their infantry are the ones that actually build buildings. So you can rush your troops in, throw down some training centers outside the enemy's base, and have a steady stream of soldiers rushing them. You also gain Favor from Norse fighting, so attacking with a steady stream of sacrificial lambs is a surefire way to get a massive army of fire-giants relatively quick behind. Oh, and if that wasn't great enough, Loki's decently cheap heroes can randomly summon myth units in battle, which can lead to an early victory just due to luck.
Egyptians to an extent, as they have the cheapest and weakest base units. The main god Set even provides you with free animal allies to bolster your forces. Quite a few of the minor gods support that kind of tactic as well.
Additionally, Egyptians can pay gold at any Town Center to pump out Mercenaries (up to their population cap), meaning that not only can they Zerg Rush, they can *counter* a Zerg Rush!
Leto's Automatons in the expansion campaign being the most memorable. The Tartarian Spawns near the end of said map qualify as an extremely deadly version of this.
Averted with the tabletop game. There's (usually) a set number of units that each side can bring to a battle.