Thursday, 18 June 2015

Short Review - Age of Empires II

Short Review - Age of Empires II

If you have owned a PC between 1999 and now, and haven't played AoEII, then quite frankly there's a part of your soul missing. It's an amazing game with an even more amazing support structure - as I write, Steam is currently downloading an update for it at close to 800mb. That's support still coming 16 years after the release date - with no sign as yet of it stopping.

AoEII is a RTS (Real Time Strategy), meaning that while you're tinkering away doing your thing your opponent, be it AI or person is also tinkering away doing there thing. Anyway, enough of "What is a RTS 101", onto the game and why you should be playing it.

The single player game consists of 2 main parts, the Campaign and Standard Game. The Campaign has you battling through several different campaigns from the medieval world, from William Wallace's battles in Scotland to Ghengis Khan's horseback archers to Joan of Arc.

The campaigns are a good way to learn the basics of the game and to pass some time with missions that have varying meaning as opposed to just "Defeat the enemy".

The standard game lets you set the objectives, you can either win by dominating and either conquering all other players or forcing them to resign; win by building a Wonder and having it stand for a set length of time, win by obtaining control of all relics that are randomly dotted across the map; Regicide - where all players have a king who you must keep safe, if the king dies, you're out as well as a few other game types.

You tend to start games in the Dark Age, advancing through to the Feudal Age, the Castle Age and finally the Imperial Age. This is meant to span approximately 1,000 years of civilization. You need to do things in order to progress through the ages, such as building certain buildings and acquiring a set amount of gold and in some cases food. You do this by creating villagers, who can then mine stone and gold, cut wood and gather food by hunting, farming, foraging and fishing. By gathering these supplies you can then use your villagers to construct buildings from houses (to boost your population limit), to barracks to build infantry units to castles or Wonders from Hagia Sofia to the Cathedral or Chartres.

The game is simple to pick up and simple to get to grips with, but can be difficult to master - as is found by the amount of times I've been mercilessly destroyed online. It's a simple game that can suck you in for hours at a time if you're not careful, and the sound effects and music just go along with it all so perfectly they feel like a snug blanket, keeping you cosy while playing.

It's all simple point-and-click controls, and the only feature which I feel could have added more to the game (especially in it's 2013 HD Remaster) would be a simple zoom function.

Overall Score: 9/10 - as an RTS it's near perfect and a wonderful way to spend an evening or afternoon.