Review by TheLastAvatar05

"The Age of Kings, the definition of what an AOE game is suppose to be."

Looking back eight years ago, it is hard to believe how Age of Empires 2 is regarded as one of the best Age of Empires games in it's series. Age of Empires 2 takes place from the beginning of the Dark Age through the Renaissance while allowing you to take control of one of 13 unique civilizations.

Game play: (8/10): The first thing you notice about AOE2 is the variety of units and formations that are included with each one. Each unit has access to certain formations like line, stagger, or box that can be changed quickly during game play. Formations allow you to choose how the units will attack the enemy while giving the player a tactical advantage. Age of Empires 2 doesn't stay far from it's original counterpart in terms of game play. Like any other RTS game of it's generation, your goal is to gather resources while building a base and later attacking the enemy with large scale armies. Each civ has their distant units and appearance though the combat can sometimes be a bit hectic for even the most experienced player. Lastly, each civilization can build wonders and relics which act as a victory condition. Wonders require large amounts of resources and time to complete during a game. However, once completed, enemies are notified and a timer occurs of how long before the player with the wonder wins the game. Relics allow players to generate wealth constantly through the game and four of a kind allows a win after a certain amount of time has passed. However, these could only be obtained through monks and can easily be recaptured by the enemy.

Sound: (8/10): Units speak their respectable language when you click and move them around. It is aspiring to hear them attack during battle with the usual grunts and groans. The Age of Empires 2 music plays warmly throughout the game and is aspiring to listen to. The only downside to the AOE2 sound is that it can sound a bit generic at times, most often during battles.

Campaign (9/10): Unlike it's sequels, Age of Empires 2's campaign is truly the strong point of the game. The campaign consists of five stories which include William Wallace, Joan of Arc, Saladin, Genghis Khan, and Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa I. William Wallace acts more of a tutorial campaign for first time players of Age of Empires 2. Each one allows you to step into the shoes of Saladin or Genghis Khan, and allow you to relive their past accomplishments. The difficulty level for each campaign ranges from dead easy to expert. Narration briefings of each mission are included for each mission and can be skipped by choice. The campaigns are somewhat short though and a player will be able to complete them in an hour or two.

Multi Player (8/10): When the game was released in 1999, online mode was the place to be in terms of competitive matches that involved skill and strategy. However, at this point of time today, it is nearly impossible to locate a sever to connect and play random maps on. The Microsoft Zone was pulled on late June of 2006, and at it's peck, there were over 1000 players online. What I liked abut the Zone was that it allow you to play custom maps against other players, a rarity that would plague future titles.

Replay Value (8/10): To this day, Age of Empires 2 The Age of Kings still has a strong replay value along with hundreds of fan made maps or modifications that can be found on any site. I personally pop in my Age of Empires 2 CD to replay the campaigns on higher difficulty when I got bored of playing the more current RTS games. Finally, Scenario Editor allows you to create new campaigns or missions that could be played online with other users. Scenario Editor also has been reworked that allows you to add more features and mission goals for your own personal preference.

The drawbacks of Age of Empires 2:

Ah yes, the dreaded drawbacks of Age of Empires 2. Evey game has them and I have yet to find one that is flawless. One drawback in Age of Empires 2 is that the AI can sometimes be as dead as a door knob during game play. It would build a few buildings, harass you with units, and than just stop after awhile. This asks the question of, "Why build a huge army if your enemy isn't going to offer you resistance or fight back?" On higher difficulty levels, it adds some challenge but not the one that you might expect. Units under your control sometimes get in front of your Catapults or Trebuchets during battle and receive splash damage for no apparent reason.

Closing Comments:

Age of Empires 2 The Age of Kings is a classic gem in your Age of Empires collection to have. It offers new innovative game play and features with 13 brand new civilizations. I recommend that all fans should obtain this game because it is an shining example of what all RTS games should be like.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 07/19/07

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