Review by Proudnerd

"After so many years I still play it."

Age of Kings will forever be one of the best strategy games of all time. The insanely addictive gameplay, wealth of tactics, the historical accuracy and the satisfaction of conquering just make it incredible. Seriously this is deeper than Deepy Mcdeep and his adventures at the bottom of the ocean.

AoK's graphics are better than average for strategy games. All units are instantly recognizable and animate smoothly. Fighting animations look good and so do all villager animations such as chopping wood or fishing. The backgrounds are drawn bitmaps so zooming in and out isn't available. It looks great though with details such as patches of leaves left around cleared forests and skeletons left around. Even dead units look great with the corpses hanging around and rotting slowly to show where a huge battle had been fought, and by looking at the bodies you can see who would have won and what units were used. This point might not sound like much but it looks much better to see the enemy you have killed and gives you an idea of who is winning. This is far better than almost all other strategy games where units disappears as soon as they die.

Sound is great! The music is very good and there are a lot of tracks. I can't remember it that well because there is a very strange bug that makes music not play. Before every mission there is a masterful spoken background. The voice acting is amazing and voices used are perfect for the roles. The language is authentic and all up this facet adds a huge amount to the atmosphere. During the battles various people will say things and this possesses the same brilliant acting. The screams of dying units and the crisp clang of fighting sound perfect. All sound effects sound just like real life.

The gameplay is godly. AoK spans four eras of history: The Dark Age, the Feudal age, the Castle age and the Imperial age. You start with a few villagers and a town center in the Dark Age. You collect resources: Gold Stone Food and Wood. You build up your tiny settlement. Eventually after training a few warriors and harvesting resources you advance to the feudal age. Here you research technologies to improve every aspect of your civilization. Everything from chainmail armour, to inventing the wheelbarrow coins better solders such as men at arms instead of your starting militia, better walls and loads of other stuff.

Once you advance to the castle age you can build castles and siege weapons as well as a stack of technologies

When you finally reach the last age; Imperial your huge city can research ultimate troops such as champion and Paladins as well as gunpowder.

AoK has 18 civilizations. They share many of the same units but with seemly subtle but in realty huge differences. For instance the franks have strong cavalry. The British have exceptional archers. All of the civs also have a unique unit. For instance Franks have a throwing axemen and the British have longbowmen.

Each unit has several units that it excels against and several units that counter it. Calvary will usually crush archers, but will be crushed by Pikeman. The counters are not extreme though and a lot of archers will still hurt cavalry and a large amount of calvary will still destroy Pikeman, as will cavalry archers. Formations will make a difference, unlike a lot of RTS games. A staggered formation, which is a loose formation of men with space between them to help negate damage from arrows and siege weapons. A box formation is a square of men with weak units such as healing monks and siege weapons in the middle protected by troops.

The magic of AoK is with all this depth, there is countless tactics that can be employed. You can rush your enemy before they become advanced enough to fight back, create a bulletproof defense and wear your enemy down ruthlessly raid the enemies economy or create your own huge economy.

The amount of options open to you and the countless ways to do battle gives AoK an endless lastabillty especially with online play. The intense competition and wealth of tactics found in online gameplay makes AoK forever captivating. I have been playing AoK for six years and still play online almost everyday.

AoK is the ultimate RTS. There is also a expansion pack called the conquers that adds a large amount of units and civilizations to AoK

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 09/15/08

Game Release: Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings (US, 09/30/99)

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