Age of Empires is not only a different game each time you play. It's a different game, period. Beautiful graphics, twelve civilizations, a comprehensive technology tree, dozens of units, randomly generated maps, and a rich soundtrack, add up to a more complete gaming experience. Age of Empires sets you within an historical context, not in a purely fictional world.
In Age of Empire, you are one of twelve powerful ancient civilizations, ranging from the Persians to the ancient Greeks. Though you start as only a small village, with just a few tribesmen, you must hunt and gather food, advance to more a sophisticated age, start learning self-sufficiency and technology, and then make the full leap to civilization. Competing against you are other cultures with whom you can fight, trade, or negotiate as you all try to progress from the Stone Age to the Iron Age.
The incredible hand drawn and 3D rendered graphics create an unparalleled, involving experience. This attention to detail brings your gaming experience into focus. Because in a great gaming environment there is no substitute for quality.
In addition to this engaging and fun graphical world, Age of Empires includes a captivating and original musical score - a dramatic backdrop for your adventures. The CD-quality sounds of Age of Empires adds to the epic flavor and enriches the gaming experience.
Age of Empires sets you within an historical context, not in a purely fictional world. But of course, if you would rather diverge from the beaten path, Age of Empires includes a built-in scenario editor so you can create your own conflicts and scenarios. Finally a game with real-time decision making. You will see the real-time results of your resource management decisions. Consider your options and move forward - assign civilization members to hunt, explore, conquer, or build. Know your place; not all civilizations will excel at the same skills -- if you are from the desert, you might not be an expert on ships and marine warfare. As you move through time you will be able to apply new technology to advance the state of buildings, weapons, tools, and ships.
Age of Empires also brings you the expanse of the unknown. You have room to roam -- the maps are large, plenty of room for you, and up to eight other players, to play in a multiplayer forum. In Age of Empires, there are many different multi-tribe scenarios you can choose from. Each with one or more victory conditions. Do you want to take part in a quick race to domination? Or an epic affair involving exploration of the known world and the accumulation of wealth? It's up to you. Choose your favorite form of world domination. Players can conquer or cooperate with existing tribes in a multiplayer environment via the Internet (through the Internet Gaming Zone), over a LAN or modem-to-modem.
Microsoft has decided to make a game about something that they are experts on, the rise of an empire. At first glance, Age of Empires looks sort of like a cross between Civilization 2 and Warcraft II, and that is a fairly accurate comparison. Age of Empires is a real-time strategy game set in the eras from the formation of the first civilizations to the end of the iron age. Although the time period of Age of Empires limits the technology available to the player, this is compensated for by making a very detailed game world full of historical depth.
You typically start each game with a town center, a few peasants, and stone age technology. Your first priorities are building shelter and, like the good hunter/gatherer that you are, hunting and gathering food. With food and shelter, you are free to create more peasants who in turn can be sent out to chop wood, quarry stone, or mine gold. Eventually, you build more complex structures and are able to increase your technological level. Oddly, to raise your technology level, you do not assign peasants to be scientists or scribes, but instead you spend food. I have never known of a situation where food buys technological progress, perhaps the scientists won't work unless you throw a banquet.
Increased technology allows you to construct more advanced units, of which there are many. There are a total of 40 units, which is actually a great amount of detail for a historical period which ends before the renaissance. There are 7 different types of archers, 9 types of infantry, and 11 types of boats. All in all, the many types of units allows Age of Empires to very closely model the types of armies in use 2000 years ago. Age of Empires has 12 ancient civilizations available to the player. Each civilization has certain units not available, however they gain certain bonuses for whatever aspect that civilization excelled at. For example, the Greeks can produce advanced infantry more quickly, while the Persians are excellent hunters. Microsoft obviously did its research here, and the result is a well rounded, historically accurate product (at least for a game).
The resource model of Age of Empires wins both praise and condemnation from me. Scattered across the board are many different types of resources, including berry bushes, forests, quarries, mines, wild game, and fish stocks. It is nice to see mankind's interaction with nature when gathering resources instead of the simple 'ore harvester' or whatever. You can watch your little people pick berries, cut down trees, mine gold, and hunt and butcher wild animals. One problem I have with the resources is the lack of the bounty of nature. A typical game might last 10,000 'years' and in all that time, animals do not reproduce, and berries and forests do not regrow. This basically means that you are stuck with the amount of resources that the map comes with, leaving you with no incentive to conserve for the future generations. If you started with 10 gazelles, you will never get any new ones, you will only lose them from hunting and predation from lions. (I must admit, it's pretty neat to see a lion eat a gazelle in a computer game)
Another problem with the resource model is the handling of food. No, I'm not talking about dangers from undercooked meat, I'm talking about the food supply. It takes food to create villagers and soldiers. I have no problem with that. I fail to see why it takes 30 villagers-worth of food to upgrade a catapult trireme to a juggernaut. Also, villagers don't eat. Your populace can stand around for thousands of years and never need a bite. This causes a problem with siege tactics. The tired and true strategy of destroying farms to kill of the population just doesn't work. Also, the units most useful when under siege, such as the catapult, require no food to create.
Despite its flaws, Age of Empires is great fun to play. The graphics and sound effects are of high quality, and the computer plays a respectable game. In fact, there is a very large selection of AIs to choose from in the scenario editor. Ah... the scenario editor. The scenario editor allows you total control in the design of scenarios and campaigns, right down to the intro movies. Even if you don't like the full selection of scenarios included with the game you have all the tool at your disposal to create a scenario exactly to your liking. Its minor annoyances are just that, minor compared to the game as a whole. For any fan of real-time strategy or historical simulations, I would recommend Age of Empires.
Following the huge success of Warcraft 2 and Civilization 2, Ensemble Studio designed a real-time game blending elements of management and strategy with evolving challenges of a civilization, through a period of 12,000 years that stretches over four ages of human history (Stone, Tools, Bronze and Iron ages).
In Age of Empires (AOE), you can either play predefined scenarios, whole campaigns made of interconnected scenarios (an easy Egyptian campaign serving as a useful tutorial), random maps or death matches. Scenario goals are diverse ranging from killing an enemy chief to destroying competitors through converting enemy units or building and keeping a wonder for example. The scenario builder included in the game lets you create randomly generated or custom maps for up to eight players. Multiplaying, even cooperative one, is of course available through a variety of connections such as TCP/IP, LAN, serial, modem and Microsoft's Internet Gaming Zone on the Internet.
Most scenarios begin with players having a small band of peasants and a town center on an unknown map. Exploring is thus a prerequisite in order to find food (e.g: berry bushes, herds of antelopes), artefacts and enemy location. Villagers are the most important assets in the early phase of the game because they gather the four different ressources necessary for the advancement of your settlements through the ages. Wood is used for constructing buildings, boats, and some military units; food to increase your population, as well as to train and improve military units, research technology and advance to the next age. While stone is needed for erecting walls and towers, and is sometimes used to research new technologies as well. Gold allows you in later stages to create sophisticated military units, advance to Iron age or pay tribute to other civilizations.
After setting the dificulty level, choosing a civilization is of paramount importance because it determines the kind of tactics to use in order to win. The huge number of civilizations available decisively increase the longevity of AOE.
If you want to follow aggressive tactics, the Yamato civilization allows you to strike hard early in the game before your foes are able to fortiy efficiently. Strong defensive abilities of Babylonians enable you to conduct defensive options. If you play against Egyptians, be prepared to fight impressive waves of chariots. Hittites with well balanced cabilities will be prefered by many players. Besides classical military units, priests when available after erecting temples are important to consider because they can heal your troops as well as convert adversaries to your cause. You do not always fight competitors, diplomacy enables you to make alliances, pay tribute and to set up fruitful trade.
Technology tree is rather complex but logical (a built-in help is always available). There are a dozen buildings and roughly 40 technologies and 40 different unit types. Some of them are only available if you attain a certain age which begins after amassing a certain amount of food and gold and after building two constructions of the current age.
The interface is easy and pleasant to use, simple clicking on units or buildings unveil potential actions. However, shortcuts are unavailable: e.g: if you want to create two priests, you have to click once on a temple, afterwards on a priest icon and repeat the whole process a second time instead of asking you for the number of times you want to repeat it!
Graphics are strikingly beautiful with plains, deserts, rivers, lakes rendered in somptuous SVGA resolution. The landscapes are filled with varied forms of life; vultures hovering into the sky, lions prowling around antelopes, elephants peacefully grazing and fish and whales swimming into the seas. AOE's sounds are plain but functional. New combats are announced by trumpets and a flash on the minimap to attract your attention. Excellent and varied CD music greatly enhances the exciting atmosphere of the game. Some annoying shortcomings do arise however such as the following examples. If a foe passes by, your soldiers will not act until instructed to do so. Similar units from different civilizations appear identical which is a pity given their diverse origins (e.g. Egyptians archers looking like Japanese ones!). Other civilizations never attack each other. However, a disturbing 50 units limit per side was recently overcome, thanks to a patch recently made available on Microsoft Games' web site.
Despite minor defaults, Age of Empires is an exciting real-time game which will stay on your hard disk for a while. It will appeal both to beginners for its easy interface and learning curve as well as hard core players who will truly appreciate the multiplaying options (cooperative gaming being a real bonus!).
People who downloaded Age of Empires have also downloaded:
Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings, Age of Mythology, Lords of The Realm 2, Civilization 2, Warcraft 2, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, Caesar 3, Anno 1503: The New World
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