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Well many years ago now, Age of Empires was released and became a big hit with everyone. It was a good old-fashioned real time strategy game, with lots of features and pretty decent game play. However, I must admit that despite loving strategy games in general, I never really got that excited about this particular game. I know I'm probably the only one but there you go. The game itself comes on one CD ROM and doesn't require too much hard drive space (a hundred or so megabytes maximum) in addition it should run on virtually all systems these days with the required specifications being a mere 32MB RAM and anything over a 166MHz processor should do the trick. Graphically this game is rather good for its time, despite being before everyone had 3D graphics cards, it uses a method of pseudo 3D graphics giving a nice angle to view the proceedings. Sound quality is also pretty impressive, with relevant sound effects relating to the types of units in action and so forth. The game itself puts you in charge of a tribe way back into the history of mankind. It is then your responsibility to progress your tribe through various ages into the modern day. Sounds pretty easy? Well it would be if other rather unpleasant tribes were trying to destroy you!!! The game itself is very easy to get into but hard to master. The general gist of the game is pretty standard for the genre, with the idea being that you have to build various structures, create military units, and advance to the next age of development. To do any of these a combination of 4 resources are needed. They are food, wood, stone and finally gold. Resources are all gathered by villagers, which also have to be produced. I will give some details of each of them here: Food: - Can be gathered by foraging, hunting animals, fishing, or best by far, farming. Wood: - You'll never guess what, but villagers chop down the trees to get this!!! Stone: - Stone appears as deposits on the map. Villagers are then assigned to the deposit and start collecting until told to do otherwise. (Or killed) Gold: - Again appears as a deposit but is slightly less common. Collected in the same way as the stone. Now these resources are used up as each building, upgrade, changing age of development, technological breakthrough and unit requires either one or a combination of more than one of these resources - it is a good idea to make sure that you have plenty of supplies of all 4, as there is nothing more frustrating that waiting for ages to change age of development because you have forgotten to collect enough of one thing!!! It is also advisable to build storage pits near to your deposits, as each time a villager collects a set amount of a resource, they must transport it back to either the capital, or a storage pit, and without an armed escort, you don't want unarmed civilians roaming across the map. Advancing to the next age allows more technologies to be researched and also better units. The AI on this game is remarkably ruthless, so if any significant gap in technology (and even some not so significant gaps!!!) appears, then the computer controlled tribes will rapidly slaughter you. As for the units, well there are a large variety of these on offer. Ranging from swordsmen and cavalry to war elephants, and various naval units, most of which are rather poor unfortunately. A major, major, major problem for me was that there is a maximum unit limit and this is very low indeed. This caused me many problems indeed and was the main reason that I never got into this game as much as it probably deserved. It was almost impossible to launch attacks on more than one front as you simply ran out of available units. This was a huge shame because apart from this the game is pretty good, and I feel that the writers made a huge gaffe with this feature!!! The game has various options. Despite never having played this game multiplayer, I am reliably informed that this is a pretty decent option and can be a lot of fun, however the single player mode is good enough to enjoy, with an easy to use level editor included. The single player game involves different chapters and scenarios. Each chapter has a number of scenarios and they get progressively harder as they go. Another downside here is with the storyline. Although each chapter has a continuous story, there is no link between the stories of each chapter. I found this a bit strange and it didn't really help me to get into the game at all, because as soon as I began to get interested in a storyline, it ended and a completely new one started. Anyway, this game was good for the time it was released, and remarkably better than the sequel which arrived a few years later, which didn't solve any of the problems that stopped the first becoming a timeless classic, and adding a few new ones too. To be honest Age of Empires is a game that shows its age somewhat now, but I still play occasionally as some lighthearted relief. It can now be purchased in most computer game shops for in the region of £5 and probably less on some online retailers. It may well be worth a buy at this value if this kind of game is your thing or for a trip down memory lane. This review is also posted on Ciao under my same username.
This is the game that introduced and defined strategy games for me. I remember when I was in high school a friend of mine installed the demo on my computer and I was glued to the monitor that night. The game has a simple concept; build an economy, progress through the ages and complete objectives or obliterate the enemy. Simple but in so many ways addictive. Age of Empires is an isometric game (2 dimensional made to look 3D) and therefore does not require any graphics hardware acceleration beyond that which your computer already has. It is almost 13 years old yet the graphics feel fresh. Vivid colours, beautiful animations and great music. Its an easy game to pickup and play. The learning curve isn't too big because all the actions are laid out in small numbers of buttons on the uers interface. These include movement, building, repairing, attacking and standing ground and so forth. The interface has a minimap which allows you to keep up with all the action and make movements without having to navigate the whole map. Age of Empires also features 3D sound meaning that when you move away from a certain area of the screen you do not hear any of that action. The soundtrack is very beautiful orchestral music that varies over the game and fits the mood of progress or action. Age of Empires has ages starting from Stone Age and finishes in the Iron Age. The campaigns are very enlightening (almost educational) and enjoyable. Some campaigns even taught me a bit about Egyptian and Hittite history - such as the Battle of Kadesh. Multiplayer gameplay is fantastic. The old MSN Zone where matchmaking was done does not exist. Fortunately there is Voobly a matchmaking service that has games daily and a sense of community. 3 Es Enjoyable, Educational, Enlightening
This is my favourite game in the Age of Empires series, for months i had to play the trial version of this game, that only contained about 3 missions or so, but finally i could afford to buy it, For a start the game is a lot simpler than the other AoE games, in single player the game is locked to 50 units per player, This can cause problems for people that focus on economy, they may have so many villagers that they cannot build up a sufficient army. Luckily in the multiplayer side of the game, for up to 8 players over Serial, Modem, IPX, TCP/IP or through Microsoft Gaming Zone (Discontinued), there is a population limit option allowing you to choose to allow up to 200 units per player. This is an ideal amount, you probably won't need that many in this game, about 50 villagers will probably complete your economy. On the technological side of things, the game is fairly basic, there are some unit attack/armour upgrades in the storage pit, a few more miscellaneous upgrades in the government center, economical upgrades in the market, and then your standard unit upgrades. There are a few unit types, Infantry, Ranged Infantry, Horsemen, Slow Infantry, Siege and Ships i think thats all of them. Of course there are several units in each type, such as Horsemen cover Cavalry, Scouts, Elephants, Horse Archers, Elephant Archers and the like. Civilizations don't vary much in this game, different civilizations will have different technologies open to them, but will mostly share the same, such as only a few civilizations get Catapult Triremes, and only about 3 civilizations get to use Elephants. But aside from that there are few differences, each civilization does have bonuses however, such as bonuses to Hit Points on certain units/buildings or added range on units/buildings. Like the Choson get +3 range to their Towers and +80 HP to their Legions, maing them a deadly opponent. There are a few campaigns available, but i never really bothered with them, i found it far more fun to play random maps and multiplayer games with my friends. But as a note, if you read my AoE II review, you will see i mentioned issues with the network side of AoE and AoE II, basically some newer computers will fail to connect with older computers, especially prevalent in Windows Vista and sometimes XP. If you're playing on an LAN, i recommend trying to get most of your PC's on the same OS, Windows 98 seems to work without a hitch. If you're playing over the internet, it may well be your router and not your computers stopping you from seeing each other, try using the Hamachi program, it will let you connect directly to your friends and bypass your routers firewall, as such only use it with people you trust. Also there is a program called GameRanger which works with hundreds of games, you host a lobby, then your friends join the lobby, then when all players are ready, you press the start button, it should launch AoE on all the PC's connected, and put you into the AoE game lobby. AI are supported in multiplayer games. As such if you want to play a singleplayer game with more than 50 pop cap, just host a multiplayer game and put 7 AI in or something. Unfortunately AoE cannot save multiplayer games, there may be a work around for it by now though. This is my favourite game in the series, despite a few of its downfalls. This is the game that started off a famous genre and game series, unfortunately its unlikely the game series will continue now Ensemble has gone defunct.
For those of us with too much time on our hands and a liking for ordering mini-men to cut trees down, God ,made the strategy game. Age of Empires has a good blend of elements that worked well in other games like Command and Conquer, Civilisation, Populous and the Total Warfare series. The gameplay is based around a tried and tested concept of resource gathering, building and armed conflict to destory competing tribes and expand your own settlements. There are 3 main storylines to choose from in the game, each with their own sub-levels. The storylines are: the Babylonians, the Greeks and Japanese as well as a tutorial level where you play as the Egyptians. Most of the levels require either the destruction of a rival tribe or the collection of a specified amount of resources before allowing progression to the next level. In terms of graphics, the game is dated now compared to more contemporary offerings in the same genre, although its playability will no doubt continue to allow the game to stand the test of time. Also, because of its age, it can be picked up reasonably cheaply on sites like Amazon, I've even seen it in a bargain bin in Morrisons for five pounds! Overall, it doesn't matter how old the graphics look, it is still a very playable game.
This game is amazing and addictive, the outdated graphics do not make a difference as the gameplay in this series of games is so solid and so good that you cannot help but want to play another time. The game is set over 10,000 years worth of history, in Europe and Asia where you can battle with all kinds of people and meachanical vehicles. The gameplay is simple yet complex. It is a simple game to grasp and easy to play, however the game has a lot of depth and there is a lot you can do with all the resources you get. In the game you gather up resources primarily food, wood, and gold. All in order to be able to build more houses, and feed more people and make more weapons. The object if to build up your towns into a larger empire and take out any other players empires on the map by force. In the campaign mode you follow the events of one particular tribe or civillisation and paly through the abttles they enountered over the years, winning them to progress through the story. Then there is also a standard game where you can set the rules you like and play custom games. the game can be played online over msn gaming zone and provides you with hours and hours of entertainment. One the best classic RTS games.
First of all a warning, this game is highly addictive. Seriously if you have a work deadline or something you need doing stay away from this, it will consume your spare time. What a brilliant game! An absolute classic that set the bar for all strategy games to follow. I bought the gold edition which included the rise of rome expansion pack for £4.99. I initially had trouble installing it on Windows XP and you may find you need to go through a slightly different route to get it to install correctly but on Windows Vista it installs no problem. Since it has been around for so long it will run like a dream on pretty much any computer thats around these days, you shouldn't have a problem even running the game on its maximum configuration. The game play itself is superb. Whether you want to follow an historically based campaign or simply set up a custom battle, I guarantee you this will keep you occupied for hours. It should also be noted that when you do start to get bored/frustrated, there are many cheats available to help you get the most out of the game and then some (nuke troopers in ancient greece anyone). How to sum it up? Its five pounds spent that will occupy and entertain for you just as much as something costing 6 times that. No real gore or violence or anything so pretty much suitable for any age group, easy to play, easy to see its mass appeal, simply a classic.
Age of empires, the first in a series is a real time strategy game made by Microsoft in 1997 and spanning over 10.000 years where you lead your nation to victory against your rivals. The main game is the campaigns. You start of as the leader of a nation, each nation has special units and you have to fight your through various levels to win the game, there is quite a large selection of nations to choose from and you have to build your army by collecting resources and trading, you have the options to upgrade your technology and your defences to help you defeat the enemy as you explore the map and the world around you. Game play The game is loosely based on historical events although it does not stick to it completely, makes sacrifices to improve game play, most of the units are units that would have been used in the time and the upgrades are what you would expect in the times, each upgrade allowing you to build better and stronger units. You start of with a few units and a town centre and using your peasants you collect resources and build a army, the main part of the game is deciding which units types to build to defeat your enemy as it is not always the person with the biggest army that wins the game and completes the mission Controls/Graphics The graphics are ok and fairly detailed especially for its age and the view windows is good giving you a good view of the world and what is going on around you, the controls are easy to learn and you can move quickly from one end of the battlefield to another as required without any problems Multiplayer The multiplayer is pretty good although it can sometimes be slow due to the detail of the game and the amount of units on the screen at once, but conquering your friends on huge maps more than makes up for this. Value for Money A very good game with plenty of options to choose from even when you have completed the game you can just play a single map fighting it out and choosing the options you want making the game as hard as you want so you can play it again and again.
I first came across AOE many years ago. I like to play God and so creating my own civilisation was just up my street! I like games where you can start from scratch, create people, towns, armies and then go to WAR! This I think describes AOE. I have since bought all the expansion packs and no matter which new games I have/play, I always go back to AOE BECAUSE you have plenty of random maps and therefore, more gaming longevity. You click on random civilisation (and there are plenty!), random map and you can play again, again and again....never playing the same map twice...or so it seems. I've bought other games of the same genre and they have a drop-down menu of maps and once you've played them, well, you've played them! We all like to play the campaigns and then we go onto playing as and when we want and AOE is great for this. Me and my entire family re-install this game time and time again - I'm hoping that they will bring out another expansion. I've played Age of Mythology but I prefer 'real' civilisations and 'real' weapons! Please give this game a try - you won't be disappointed!
Background ~~~~~~~~ The game is set in Europe & Asia between the Stone Age and Iron Age which spans 10,000 years of history. You fight in epic legendary campaigns such as escorting Hannibal across the Alps and going to war with the great Roman Empire. The game, at heart, is a Real Time Strategy (RTS) which has become one of today's more popular game genres - and im pretty sure this, and the advent of Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings, was responsible for it. If you aren't aware of what a Real Time Strategy game is - you will see the real-time results of your resource management decisions. Consider your options and move forward ? assign civilization members (villagers) to hunt, explore, conquer, or build. All players start with, in this case, 3 'villagers' and a Town Center and to win you race to research technologies and create an army superior of your opponents - and then smash them to pieces, how can that not be fun?! There are 12 races which you can choose from, all based on historical tribes and have technological advantages based on historical evidence, i.e. The Phoenecians were the best seafarers and ship builders of the ancient world and they have very strong ships in the game. Also your choice of civilization is tied to the type of technology which will become available to you. The races are: - Hittite - Yamato - Sumerian - Egyptian - Phonecian - Assyrian - Shang - Greek - Babylonian - Persian - Minoan - Choson Game Types ~~~~~~~~ You can play the standard RTS style of having practically nothing to start with then building up into an empire (called 'Random Map') or you can p lay 'Death Match' style where you start with 20000 food and wood, 10000 gold and 5000 stone, how much of each resource you have is tied to what you can research and how many units you can create. The Death Match style being much faster paced, a quick fix for those of you looking to relieve some stress. Another type of game is 'Campaign' where you follow the events of one tribe and you are in control of their fate, some challenging gameplay here on hardest, although on easiest its fun for beginners. Multiplayer ~~~~~~~ I could write a small novel on the Multiplayer side of this game as it basically stole 3 years from my life, but I'll try to sum it up as best I can. You can set up a Mutliplayer game on your local network for some family battles or you can connect to the MSN Gaming Zone with hundreds of other people from all over the world. I know thats not a lot of people by todays gaming terms, but it used to be thousands of people when it first hit the shelves and many people have moved to greener pastures but there are still a lot of die hard fans still addicted, my brother included :). In fact everyone I have introduced to this game has become addicted, so be careful. Death Match(DM) and Random Map(DM) are the two most popular multiplayer set ups, I'll start with the latter since this is the foundation of the game. As mentioned above you start with 3 villagers and a Town Centre which is where you advance your civilisation throughout the four ages: - Stone Age: This is the default age and the only things you can do here are create more villagers to make you resource collection faster, build resource drop off points, and make the most basic military unit: The Clubman which even villagers can fend off without many problems. - T ;ool Age: This is where things can become a little interesting, the clubmen which your enemy could have made in the Stone Age can be upgraded to Axemen and can be given armour and attack upgrades which will slice through your town like a knife through butter. Some other units are avialable here and can be upgraded and hurt your town aswell, this is known widely as a 'Tool Rush', a very popular multiplayer strategy. - Bronze Age: Probably the first target for most RM games where a wide variety of units become available here, and hundreds of different strategies have been delevoped for this age, also 'Fast Bronze' strats are popular too. - Iron Age: Every technology available to your tribe is available here once you have reseached the prerequisites, which makes for a lot of diverse battles, this is the age you start in DM mode. Speak of diversity, every game you play will never be the same as any other game you have played, the map is different almost every time and even if its the same map, the chances are you won't be on the same position on the map, this is what makes the game so appealing - you can't get bored if it's not the same! Okay, on to Death Match. As mentioned above you start with a lot of resources and it's basically an all out battle until you have none left. What most people do is spend some food on villagers to try and replenish your resources as you spend them on military units to fight. This mode can become very competitive online along with the resident crap talkers you get with competitive gaming. If you stick with beginner games to start I suspect anyone would have fun. Conclusion ~~~~~~~ I apologise if I drifted a little too deep into the strategy but it's hard not to, because it's a strategy game :). All in all I think this was the best game ever made, and since I am a hardcore gamer this opinion should not be taken lightly. The gameplay is second to none, the game will grasp you and hold you down with minimal chance of escape. I recommend this game to anyone esecially now that its a good few years old and should be ultra cheap. Graphics - 9/10 - If you had to look for a bad point about this game this would be it, although I'm usually having too much fun to notice, the graphics were great in it's time. Gameplay - 11/10 - Sorry for the illogical rating but this game hasn't been surpassed in gameplay ever (and I've tried a lot of games!) Playing Hours - Unlimited - A new experience every time you play Average rating 10/10 - A must buy!
AGE OF EMPIRES -------------- This game was made by Ensemble Studios, and released by Microsoft in 1997, Its a Real Time Strategy game with a lot of depth. Personally im not normally a fan of RTS games, but this one had a little something more, which has made it one of my favourite games. With lots of options and customizations, this game can be endless, there is just so much that you can do. GAMEPLAY -------- The game is played in the same style as your normal RTS games, such as Command and Conquer, but this game also has a lot of elements of the Civilization Series of games. When you first load this up you are given a set of options including, Single player, multiplayer and load game, you also get the opetunity to create your own scenarios to play. When you select the single player game, you are given a vast choice of different ways to play the game, such as playing a single scenario, playing a campaign and deathmatch. So we will jump straight into the campaign mode, in this you get to choose a Civilisation to play as, such as Eygptions or Greeks, These civilizations all have different goals and enemies. The best way to start is by playing as the Egyptions, as this is a kind of tutorial, although it gets very hard! The campaign mode is the basic storyline for the game, this is like a mini history lesson in ways, when you first start it, you will have a little screen which tells you about the next scenario, these scenarios vary quite a lot during the game, some of the missions will involve getting your civilization to a certain number of people, some will be to invade another land and take an artifact back, or defeat an entire army, there are so many variations and they all seem very fresh and different from the last. The actual gameplay in the missions is all controled my the mouse, you select the characture you want to move and you click the arrow where you want him to go, simple, the control is so easy to use and after a few minutes you will be fully used to it. The charactures in the game range from ordinary villigers to priests and soldiers, you will need to use every type of unit to progress furthur into the game. The villigers are the main unit to begin with, these are the guys that will collect the resources needed to build your little city, as a villiger you can hunt animals and go fishing for food, mine for stone and gold, cut down trees for wood, these things will all be needed over the course of a campaign! These villigers are also the people that actually build your buildings, these buildings range from simple houses to government buildings. The other charactures are all used in different situations, Priests can convert a foreign unit to your side, soldiers can just kilkl the other unit! You will also be able to create boats and catapults and lots of other weapons and transport. Not only must you fend off foreign armies, you will also have the wildlife to contend with, animals such as lions, big elephants and alligators roam the area that you live in, these will try to kill your units but if you defeat them they can be used as food! The game also has a very big technology tree, this means that if you research one item it could impact a lot of others, for example you could research the wheel, this would mean that not only could create a catapult, but you could also reseach another thing, meaning that your technology can increase quite far. You begin the Egyptian campaign with very limited resources, you have three villigers, these must begin your civilization, by getting food and creating houses, as you progree you see how your civilization is advancing through the ages, if you reach a certain point in the game you can advance your tribe, for example you can move them from the stone age to the tool age, this gives more technology to research and b etter equipt units. Once you complete your mission you are given a brief account of what happened at this point in history and what happened next, this is like a little history lesson, but its not boring and adds a lot to the games atmosphere. Other than the campaign mode you can play a single scenario or a deathmatch, these are basically just short missions, that have their own little goals. GRAPHICS -------- The graphics are viewed from a fake 3d angle from above the map, you can see everything thats going on in your general point of view, but you cant see in the areas that you havent explored. Most of these types of games have quite poor graphics, but this one seems to have a touch of gloss about it, like the animation when you are hunting animals etc. A lot of the maps are a bit dull to look at, but still nice enough to give you the impression of being there!! DIFFICULTY ---------- This is a very difficult game, even for the most hardened RTS gamer this will give quite a lot of challenge, the missions add a lot of variety and you must really use your brain in some situations, you will gain your own personal way of playing the game, but on some levels this might not be the best way to complete it OVERALL ------- This game will give you endless hours of fun, it is so big, it will take a long time to complete and there are lots of add ons available on the net, these range from simple scenarios to complete campaigns. Ive not played the sequal so i cant comment on which is better but as this was only 5 pounds, with the rise of rome expansion pack, when i got it, this is probably better value! Thanx for reading. Kyle
With this game you have your own little tribe of people to controle and enlighten, leading them from the stone age on. I recently borrowed this game from a friend and after leaving it laying on the table for a few weeks I decided I better try it and I?m very glad I did. When I first started playing it I could quite happily play it for a couple of hours at a time because the campaigns were varied and enjoyable to play, even now after having the game for a while I still find I play it quite regularly as its very easy to get into. Age of Empires requires the player to manage a tribe of people; this involves collecting food to ?buy? more people with as well as collecting stone, gold, wood to get more buildings and to advance to the Iron Age. As well as advancing your tribe you also have to trade with allies and defeat enemies. There are 7 different tribes in the game who at different points in the campaigns will be either enemies or allies even within one campaign the tribes will change from one to the other. As you progress through a campaign, and from one campaign to the next the types of units you can build and use change. At the start of the game you have only a few basic tribes people with a very limited capacity for attack and defence but as you progress you get better fighting units, my personal favourite is the fighter on horseback (but the sound of the hooves can get annoying:) The game has settings for difficulty that start with easiest and go up to hardest. The hardest setting is true to its word and in order to be able to complete the campaigns at this level you need to be very well versed in games of this kind, however the game provides good introductions to the basics of the game through starter campaigns that introduce one aspect of the game at a time, for example the first campaign introduces providing food for the tribe and getting resources for buildings. An interesting feature of the game is that although you can s ee all areas of the map, that you have explored, you can only see enemy units that are within sighting range of one of your units. This game is very playable, and although its been out a while now I still think that its one of the best games of its kind. The random map generator means that you can still play new campaigns even after you have finished all the set ones and its also possible to download maps that other players have created.
The theme of Age of the Empires is the rise of the first great civilisations over the 12, 000 years that followed the last ice age. You are the guiding spirit of a tribethat predates one of the great cultures of antiquity. Your goal is to build you tribe into a mighty that can vie for world (game) dominance (victory). You begin the game in the stone age with a small tribe of villigers on anunexplored map. As you ove you tribesmen over the mapyou reveal different terrain types and locate sources of food, wood, stone, and gold, which villagers gather by hunting, fishing, foraging, farming, chopping wood and mining. You must gather enough resourses to build enough houses for your growing civilisation. Constructing buildings lets you train military units and boats to defend your civilisation or attack other civilisations. Constructing buildings aslo lets you redearch technologiesthat benefit your civilisation, such as increasing the resources you can gather or the strength of you military units. As you advance through the ages, you can build new buildings, create new boats and military units, and research new technologies. You can esablish allies with other civilisations controlled by human or computer players, exchange tribute, and establish trade routes. The winner of the game is determined by the vicory conditions of the scenario. You canplay a variety of predesigned single player campaigns, as well as single player or multiplayer randon maps or scenarios. Or you can use the scenario builder to create your own custom scenarios.
I picked this up a couple of years ago and I am still playing it now. The graphics aren't great, but is just simply the gameplay of this game that makes it so excellent!! You can just keep playing and playing! There are different ways of winning a game of scenario, depending on the mission settings. Their can be conquest where you destroy all your opponents and you can also have more friendly ones, such as exploration and capture artifacts and gaining control of anicient ruins. The game starts with just a town centre and a few villagers normally, and you use them to forage for food and resources needed for your civilisation to grow. As you get more villagers you can get more resources and advance to different ages, The Stone age goes to the The Tool Age for example, where you have the ability to build new buildings and beeter units/soldiers. You have the ability to play as one of about a dozen races, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. During the different scenarios you have to work out their weaknesses in order to complete some of the more difficult levels. You can play a deathmatch where you start with all the resources you need to build a decent civilisation and get straight into combat against your opposition and working with your allies This has to be the best online game I have. It is best played using MSN Gaming Zone, where there are usually always about 200 people playing it. The graphics aren't overloading anyones computer which means it is possible to play a game with 8 people and have no lag!! It is a great game offline but online its improved dramatically, you can play harder opposition, and there are new options such as higher pop limit.
When you first play Age of Empires, a warm feeling develops in your gut. Warcraft meets Civilization! Real-time empire-building! And does it ever look sharp and feel right. But an uneasy feeling builds as you get deeper into it, a sense that all is not quite right. This is not quite the game you hoped for. Even worse, it has some definite problems. The pitfall when you review a game as anticipated and debated as this one is to make sure you criticize it for what it is, not for what you wish it was. I wish that Age of Empires was what it claimed to be - Civilization with a Warcraft twist. Instead, it is Warcraft with a hint of Civilization. That's all well and good, but it places it firmly in the action-oriented real-time combat camp, rather than in the high-minded empire-building of Civilization. The result is Warcraft in togas, with slightly more depth but a familiar feel. Age of Empires places you on a map in an unexplored world, provides a few starting units, and lets you begin building an empire. Each game unfolds the same way. You begin with a town center and some villagers. The villagers are the basic laborers, and the town center enables you to build more of them and expand your settlement. The villagers are central to AOE: they gather resources, build structures, and repair units and buildings. Resources come in four forms: wood, food, stone, and gold. A certain amount of each is consumed to build various units and buildings, research new technology, and advance a civ to the next age. There is no complex resource management or intricate economic model at work here. What you have is the same old real-time resource-gathering in period garb, with four resources instead of one or two. As your civ advances, you develop greater needs for these resources, but the way in which they are gathered and used becomes only marginally more complex (certain research can cause faster harvesting or more production). It appears on the surface to be a complex evocation of the way early civs gathered and used materials, but beneath the hood is the same old "mine tiberium, buy more stuff than the other guys" model. It is the first hint that AOE is a simple combat game rather than a glorious empire-builder. There's no denying the thrill the first time a villager chucks a spear at an antelope and spends several minutes hacking meat from its flank with a stone tool. This is the level of detail that brings an empire-building game to life. If only those villagers would grow and develop over the course of the game, it would make it so much more interesting. If only they would trade in their loincloths for some britches and maybe some orange camouflage, and switch from spears to arrows and rifles. Yes, that's another game, but it could easily have been done in AOE, and why it wasn't is a mystery. The overall impression of AOE dips further with the prickly issue of unit control and AI. As you expand your city with new and improved buildings, you develop the ability to produce new and better military units. These fall into several categories: Infantry (Clubman, Axeman, Short Swordsman, Broad Swordsman, Long Swordsman, Legion, Hoplite, Phalanx, and Centurion), Archers (Bowman, Improved Bowman, Composite Bowman, Chariot Archer, Elephant Archer, Horse Archer, and Heavy Horse Archer), Cavalry (Scout, Chariot, Cavalry, Heavy Cavalry, Cataphract, and War Elephant), and Siege Weapons (Stone Thrower, Catapult, Heavy Catapult, Ballista, and Helepolis). With the completion of a temple, a priest becomes available that can heal friendly units and convert enemy units. Naval units come in the form of fishing, trade, transport, and war. The problem is that while enemy AI is savvy and aggressive (it can afford to be since it appears to cheat with resources), your units are bone-stupid. Path-finding is appallingly botched, with units easily getting lost or stuck. There is a waypoint system, b ut that hardly makes up for the fact that your units have trouble moving from point A to point B if you don't utilize it. Military units will stand idly by while someone a millimeter away is hacked to pieces. They respond not at all to enemy incursion in a village and wander aimlessly in the midst of battle. Was this deliberate so that the gamer needed to spend more time in unit management? If so, it was a poor idea, since there is simply too much going on midgame to worry about whether your military is allowing itself to be butchered in one corner of the map while you are aggressively tending to a battle in another portion. There is no excusing this flaw, and it seriously diminishes AOE's enjoyability. Finally, there is the fifty unit limit that is irritating many players, but in light of the game's already troublesome play balance, it was a solid decision to force users to build units more selectively. AOE obviously is sticking close to an early-empire motif, and there's nothing at all wrong with that. Stone, Tool, Bronze, and Iron are the four ages, and with each come new structures and military units. You don't earn these advanced ages - you buy them with resources. Advancement is a simple matter of hoarding and spending food and gold. The overall welfare of your state is irrelevant as long as it survives: happiness is not measured, trade is barely modeled, and the state exists merely to produce a military machine to crush everyone else on the map. Naval power has a woefully unbalancing effect upon gameplay, with a strong navy able to shred the competition at the expense of reality. Micromanagement is the name of the game in AOE. There is no unit queue, and to build five villagers, you need to build one, wait, build another, and so on. With units acting so stupidly, you should be able to set their level of aggression and the manner in which they attack (a la Dark Reign), but that is also not an option. Diplomacy is relegate d to tribute and nothing more, and alliances are hard to form. You can be allied, neutral, or at war with other civs, but if the radio button is still set to "allied" when an opponent starts firing on your units, your units will not fire back, defend themselves, or even flee. They will just be destroyed. Cues as to exactly what's happening on the map are obscure; the duty has been relegated to unrelated sound effects. Does that bugle call mean my building is finished being built, or my units are under attack? How about some help, people? Victory conditions can also be irritating. There are several campaigns that require that specific goals be met, and these quickly grow tiresome. Thankfully, there is an excellent custom generator that lets you set map size, starting tech, resources, and other features. This is the saving grace of AOE, and what kept me coming back again and again. The main reason is that it let me change some of the insane default victory requirements, such as when the victor is the first to build a "wonder" (through another massive consumption of resources) that stands for 2000 years. These 2000 years can pass in about twenty minutes of game time. That means that as soon as an opponent builds a wonder, you create a whacking huge navy to go over and blow it up. Not a very subtle way to maintain an empire. In fact, there is no strategic nuance: It is merely a brawny muscle contest. For all its historical trappings and pretensions to recreate the early progress of civilization, in the final analysis it does not even have the depth of a pure combat game like Dark Reign or Total Annihilation. If all these judgments seem harsh, it is only because Age of Empires looked, and pretends, to be so very much more. It still has tons of potential and a fundamental gameplay that remains entertaining enough to overcome the flaws and merit a fair rating. The system can go very far with some fine-tuning, but as it stands it seems downr ight schizo. Is it a simplified Civilization or a modestly beefed up Warcraft? It's almost as if the designers started out to create one game and ended up with another. With such beautiful production and the fundamentals of a vastly entertaining game, it's sad that it fell short of the mark. The disappointment is not merely with what AOE is, but with what it failed to be.
There are many computer games that are based around you playing the role of 'god'. In them all it is your job to decide the structure of your civilisation, army or any other miriad of situations. In Age of Empires you take the role of a god, that at the most basic level needs to decide the very structure of your society. You decide how resources are used, the type of buildings you have and the type of individuals you have in you society. There are a number of forms that the game can take and they are basically: 1: A free form game where the user defines all the parameters such as terrain and winning requirements. 2: A structured game where many of the variables are pre-set and the winning requirements are tighter and predefined. 3: A totally freeform game, much as in the first option, but you get to decide on all aspects of the game, even designing your own landscapes. Once you have decided between the major game types there are a myriad of different games you can play. Basically you must progress you civilisation to the point where you will win the game. This advancement can take the form of evolving your civilisation through 4 ages of man. The further you go the better your technology becomes. There are a number of ways to win and these depend on the type of game you are playing. Earn more points by evolving you civilisation, destroy you opponents or control certain aspects of the game. The game can be as easy or as complex as you wish. You can start off basically and work up to much harder scenarios. And in that respect it is a game that stands the test of time. It is an addictive game that will have you playing for hours and coming back for more time after time. The graphics are good but not up to the standards of todays top games, but this doesn't distract from your enjoyment. The sound effects are good and fit the game well. As has been said before about other games, this one is quick to l earn and lengthy to master.