Review by ZaleIsBackAgain
"And this is where it all started?"
There's something about Microsoft that makes them want to dominate everything. From computers to video games to computer games. They do a good job of it too, though it usually takes them at least a year to get use to things before they start getting good. An example of this is the original Age of Empires, the predecessor to one of the best games ever created. While the developers weren't really part of Microsoft, you can pretty much consider them as a part of it. The weird thing is that the only thing that differs between Age of Empires II and the original are a change in units, some new minor gameplay mechanics, and the concepts between times. Age of Empires II was an excellent game, though Age of Empires is just horrible. Not horrible, but a little bit below mediocre, which is still horrible.
What can make Age of Empires so bad? Well, the graphics are sluggish, the units look like play dough men fighting with toy weapons, the sounds excluding the music is just nails+chalkboard to your ears, the campaigns are both linear, easy and dull, and while there are at least over a dozen civilizations to choose from, they're all the same! Same units, same look, the only difference is that each civilization has something that the others don't, like an Elephant or Chariot. While this has worked in the sequal, they aren't diverse enough to give each civilization a much different feeling. It goes down to this, you either like chariots or elephants more.
The campaign and the missions within them are all boring and bland. The only compelling reason why you would want to play them is for the history, but you could easily learn all of that in a single website or book. The objectives are usually kill x unit or find x artifacts. The search and steal/kill ones usually don't last any longer than ten boring minutes of travelling your units from one place to another, only to encounter a battalion ready to be slaughtered. Really, all you have to do is set your units in one place, and they'll easily take care of the enemies. What's so fun about that? There's this one level where all I had to do is avoid a couple of weak ass lions and lead my army of four soldiers to kill the leader of a camp that I didn't really care to learn the name of. The other levels where you actually have to build up your base are also really boring to endure.
It's a pretty simple process for any mode here in Age of Empires; forge an army, set them at a certain place, wait for enemy to get trampled over yours. Handling your economy is also another frustrating task. First off, the population limit is a ****ing measly 50, you can only queue up units one at a time, and there's just no strategy. The only strategy here is to create the units with the highest numbers and send them off to your opponent's base, which anyone with a basic understanding of video games should know how to do. Also, as you progress through the game, you'll be able to advance through ages that will offer you more upgrades, more units and more buildings to construct. The thing is, there's so many of them it's really hard to balance out the money between your units, buildings and upgrades. Mostly you'll finish the game in like the second age, but there is an option to enable which age you would like to automatically start in. Still, for those that prefer to build from the bottom up, it's not really that fun to do here. Not only that, but sometimes you can't construct buildings because of the stupid elevation and hills. So it really limits where you build your structures at.
Not to mention those horrible sounds! What did Ensemble do to the sounds! Everytime a sword wielding unit slashes his weapon upon an enemy, a really really really bad sound of rocks smashing together plays. I'm not sure if it's rocks smashing together, or metal slashing together or elephants having sex, well it doesn't matter because it just sucks. At least the arrow units don't sound as horrible. Though they still sound unrealistic. It sounds as if they're firing a missile instead of an arrow. Usually for me, I love putting on the sounds and sometimes refuse to play a game without them, and my desire for sounds forced me to endure the horrible agony that is Age of Empire's sounds.
If there was anything good about this game, it's the cheats and music. The sounds do suck, but the music is simply beautiful. In fact, Age of Empires could possibly have the best background music you'll ever hear from an RTS game. It makes you feel like you're in those ancient times. Not only that, but they're just awesome. The cheats are also pretty fun to use during any game, well except multiplayer. They call you a n00b if you use cheats.
The cheats are probably the only reason why one would want to continue playing this game. I found using cheats more enjoyable than actually playing serious, because there's just so many of them! From turning birds into dragons, to summoning babies in tricycless using bazookas, or even corvettes being driven by a person holding a rocket launcher. They're really awesome, seriously. Cheats are the only reason why I'm still playing this game.
Who could of ever thought that the predecessor to one of the most magnificent games ever created can be this disappointing and this horrible. I got this game for free and I still feel ripped off. Still, if it weren't for Age of Empires, then Age of Empires II wouldn't of been as great, so that's one purpose it holds.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 01/23/05
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