Review by Ice84
"A much better game than the first Age of Empires"
There has been a while since we first played Age of Empires. In my opinion, the game was good, but I think that it had some aspects that could be a lot much better. Now, Microsoft has made the sequel of Age of Empires one of the best games in its category. Not only Age of Empires II has a lot more units and better graphics and sound, the challenge is also better. So let's see...
As a game, Age of Empires II doesn't have any ''story''. But the good thing about the game is that it contains a mini - encyclopedia about the historical facts of each culture you can control. Also the development of the game is more or less the same as each culture's history. There aren't many games based in real history, and Age of Empires II is a good one. And well, although Age of Empires II does not have an implicit story, we can say that the game's story is each culture's history.
Age of Empires II has the classical gameplay for any RTS game, so it's very easy to play this great game. Even so, Age of Empires II has a training campaign with William Wallace as the main character that will help novice players in Age of Empires learn the basic commands and war tactics. Also, as in many strategy games, there are many ''shortcuts'' to create units and build some buildings making the game easier and faster. As you see, playing the game is not a problem, and even more if you like strategy games. After all of this, Age of Empires II deserves a 10.
As the previous game, the challenge you find in Age of Empires II is very good. Even the first missions have a medium - high level of difficulty. With the incorporation of new units and new ways of attacking and defending yourself, the difficulty of any mission can be determined by your strategies. Well, there're many missions that are very difficult since the beginning, and some can be even more with the fact that sometimes you are given more objectives after finishing certain goals or making certain actions. Challenge... this won't be a problem for you.
Audio & Graphics 10/10
As I said before, these aspects were greatly improved. The sounds and special effects seem more realistic, and sometimes (especially the ambience sounds), they are heard as you can hear them in real life. Sounds like the birds' songs and the water flowing will make you feel as if you are in the woods. On the other hand, the graphics are excellent. The textures in the game are very realistic. I haven't seen many RTS games with such graphics, so by this aspect you won't be disappointed. I think that they are even better than the ones of Starcraft. Oh yes! I forgot to say that Age of Empires II aslo includes some videos of great quality and sound that their main purpose is to serve as an introduction to the campaign. So, Age of Empires II deserves a 10 in this aspect.
Replay Value 10/10
There are about 6 - 7 cultures for finishing their set of missions. Also, there are a few game modes for playing custom missions. And don't forget the Mission Editor and the Multiplayer option. So who wants more? Having all of this, a real lover of RTS games will not stop playing this game.
Age of Empires II is a really good RTS game, maybe one of the best games there are. I recommend you to buy it; you won't be sorry for that. Also, you can download the demo, but surely after plying it you will want to buy the game.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 07/19/01, Updated 09/15/01
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