When you typically think of real-time strategy, you're instantly thinking about Age of Empires. Age of Empires II was a game that practically defined a genre and is thus the perfect choice for today's Retro Recap. Surprisingly enough, even after being on the market for almost 15 years, this game that still holds up rather remarkably well.
When I first played this game, I'll admit that I had no idea what was going on. Where do I start? Is wood more important, or is food necessary for later expansion? The simple answer is both, yet it's quite the eye opener when you realize how much time in that game is spent on a menial task such as resource collecting. I am ashamed to say, but I was partial to the Death Match game mode with high number of resources. This mode allowed me to focus more on the warfare aspect of the game, rather than slowly building up a huge empire, only to be crushed by the 20 or so catapults the brutal AI sent my way.
Inevitably, boredom would set in and I would partake in the oh-so-easy Wonder victory. Fortifying it with as many walls and guard towers as humanely possible, victory was always absolute. One thing I did enjoy was the attainment of the "Big Daddy" cheat. Albeit called something different in AoE II, there's nothing more satisfying than breaking the time-space barrier and summoning a car with turrets attached to the front. And surprisingly, not just one either. If you're going to cheat, then you might as well go full throttle and annihilate your opponents with the population cap of weaponized Dodge Vipers.
On to the Campaign! Due to the much-needed Age of Kings expansion, the campaign mode of Age of Empires was nothing short of top quality entertainment. It’s one thing to have a standard objective of Military / Wonder / Relic victory, but to have unique objectives only found in this mode made me one very happy player. Not only that, but the learning was high beneficial! Who would have thought learning was that much fun? I can definitely attest my knowledge of Genghis Khan and Joan of Arc to the wonderful folks at Ensemble Studios. Their ability to recreate some of these famous battles gave me the will to play more of this game. I replayed the campaign over and over again, and even engaged in harder difficulty settings. Age of Empires II is truly a game for, well, the ages. It's a shame that III didn't live up to the hype.
As a slight difference to the usual “things you didn't know”, here's “things I learnt from Age of Empires”:
- Kings can run faster than Cavalry.
- A civilization made up of entirely male villagers can still reproduce.
- The Frankish unique unit; the Throwing Axemen, didn't know how to chop trees.
- A single tree is enough to break line of sight. It was a revolutionary idea when someone suggested that they could go through the forest.
- “Wololo” was the universal sign of a traitor. Also the unquestionable voice of God.
- A trade cart would screw you over by opening the gate to the enemy.
- Villagers could hunt deer with a bow and arrow, but enemy units with a knife (probably because they moved quicker)
- You could explore the whole map with one animal, or until the enemy stopped your sheep.
In case you hadn't realized through my many songs of praise over this game, AoE II is one of my all-time favorites. It's something which I can go back to in an instant and still spend hours playing and causing mayhem across the numerous terrains included. As I'm sure you are all aware, Age Of Empires II was rereleased earlier on this year as part of the HD fad that's cropping up for every mediocre title of the past 15 years, yet if there is one HD title to get, make it this one. You will most certainly not regret it at all. You can check out our full review of Age of Empires II: HD Edition right HERE.
FYI: I always choose the Britons as my preferred choice. There's just something about a mass hoard of archers, with their range greater than a castle that soothes the soul.
Did you play much AoE II? Do you still play it now? Let us know what your thoughts are on this game in the comments below!