Review by utuseless
"As perfect as an imperfect game like AOE 2 can be..."
Age Of Conquerors is an expansion to the excellent Age of Kings. Expansions should always aim to be at least as good as the game they are expanding, and a few improvements generally don't go unappreciated. With this in mind, Conquerors performs very well.
Age of Kings was never brilliant, in my opinion. The graphics and sound were never far from just OK, and could hardly be called special. I know it's an old game but even in its day it could easily have performed better in all these areas. RTS fans will cite gameplay as the main factor contributing to AOK's success, but let's be honest here, the single player campaigns were restricted by the fact that, true to most RTS games, the computer AI was appallingly basic. Your enemies just keep approaching your base every so often, each time bringing more and stronger units. Not exactly the pinnacle of strategy gaming, and calling AOK one of the best RTS games on the PC isn't actually saying much.
It was still really good fun, however, and so it's a good thing that AOC pays attention to what AOK did best and keeps those values while also expanding on them in a few small ways. No horrendously unnecessary interface overhauls, no ludicrous new units or pointless 'upgrades', not in this AOE instalment. It's what AOK fans wanted it to be, and no more or less. It hands you three new campaigns, each of which could easily have made it into AOK and in some cases could even supplant AOK's original ones. Most of AOC's missions are more varied and interesting than many of AOK's, which is pretty much perfect for what an expansion should be.
In Conquerors you get to play as Attila the Hun, El Cid and Montezuma. All three of these civilizations are new and unique, as well as the campaigns invented for you to take them through. Like in AOK, you actually control the protagonists themselves (for Attila and El Cid at least) and quite a few missions require a bit of RPG-style play, rather than the typical build-base-and-attack stuff. The Montezuma campaign is particularly memorable, mostly for the lush green jungles and the primitive but deadly warriors you gain access to. There are very few weak levels in any of the campaigns, and the types of challenges vary greatly from map to map.
There's not much else to say here. If you liked or loved AOK then you have no chance of being in any way disappointed by AOC, unless it's with the number of campaigns (AOK had 5 while AOC only has 3). Then again, it is an expansion, not a full new game, so that's not much of a moan. And it does include 8 one-off missions loosely based on famous battles from history. These are mostly entertaining enough to justify their inclusion, and they are all notably unique and challenging in their own right. One or two are even terrific and worth playing over and over.
While AOC is perfect as an AOK expansion, I'm only giving it 8/10 because there was always plenty of room for improvement in presentation and computer AI. This was true of AOK as well, and it means that neither of them are worthy of 10/10.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/07/07
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