Review by Nejaa

"One of the best RTS games ever."

As I said in the synopsis this truly is one of the best RTS
(Real Time Strategy). If you liked the gameplay and interface of the original Age of Empires and Rise of Rome then you will absolutely love the improvements they made to the gameplay and interface. The time at which this game takes place, which is the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, is better too, in my opinion. Now I will tell you exactly how they improved the AOE interface and made one of the best RTS games ever.

First I'll tell you the improvements. You know how in AOE and ROR you always had to bring in your archers later because you were afraid of them getting in front of your calvary and infantry and getting slaughtered. Well they cured that with formations. Now your archers are at the back of the formations, except for the box formation where they are surrounded by infantry and calvary, and your calvary actually stay with your archers and infantry who can back them up instead of running off to far ahead and getting slaughtered. They also have settings for how aggressive your troops are. Your troops can be aggressive, where they follow the enemy they saw till they kill it or get killed, passive, where they attack only when attack, stand their ground, where they stay idle even if attacked. Another improvement in the idle villager button. This allows you to see where your retarded villagers who are standing doing nothing are and so you can put them to work.

You can also garrison your troops(just infantry and archers though), villagers, and monks in towers, castles and towncenters. Also when you troops garrisoned, they will shoot arrows out of building at enemy troops when they wonder by. If you ring the town bell all villagers will garrison in the closest town center which makes villagers a little more defended if they are being attacked.
Tech trees are also a little more extensive and true to the civilizations. For example, the Mongols, who were nomadic horsemen who could not did not have gunpowder to use and in the game their armies a little more sided to calvary and they also can't use gunpowder units. You can also walk over farms. I know that sounds like a stupid improvement but in the original AOE you couldn't walk over farms you had to walk around them and this really helps out when you having battles near farms.

There are thirteen civilizations and only one or two are carry overs from AOE. The new civilizations are the Britons, Byzantines, Celts, Chinese, Franks, Goths, Japanese, Mongols, Persians, Saracens, Teutons, Turks, and the Vikings all have certain strengths and weaknesses. And all civilizations have a special unit that the real medieval armies had like the Japanese Samurai and the Briton's Longbowmen. There are also a whole lot more units and unit upgrades.

The campaigns are historically correct. You can chose to fight along William Wallace in the training campaign, Joan of Arc, Genghis Khan, Fredrick Barbarossa, and Saladin. These campaigns rock. You fight in actual battles that took place, you have soldiers that were actually alive fighting for you(an example is you get to control Joan Arc). You can sometimes use diplomacy to get people to join you. And by diplomacy I do not mean killing their king then controlling his kingdom. You can actually ally with people sometimes if you do certain things for them.

If campaigns aren't really your thing, Age of Empires has three other types of games that you can play. The first one is Deathmatch. These aren't very fun mainly because the computer will quit ten minutes into the game. The second one is Random Map. In this game type you have to build your civilization from scratch. You start out with a few villagers, a town center, a scout, and a small amount of resources. The third one is Regicide, which is my favorite type of game. You have a King which you must defend and not let get killed. It is fun because you start out with more resources than Random Map, a Castle, eleven or twelve villagers, and a town center and these factors allow you to build up faster.

Another great thing about AOE2 is there scenario and campaign creator. This allows you to create your own in-depth campaigns where you control what happens, when it happens, and how it happens. Though creating scenarios and campaign are very time consuming, it is still pretty fun to mess around with.

The graphics is a bit above par for a strategy game. The building art is magnificent. You can see swords and other weapons leaning against the buildings, the pools of water in the courtyard of a cathedral. The unit art is pretty good. The units are pretty detailed and this enriches your medieval war experience. The terrain art is also pretty good. The terrain actually looks pretty good. It is fairly detailed and this helps the game along.

The sound is very good. The sound team for this game did a very good job making the sounds of the Middle Ages come to life. The sound of swords hitting shields, horses running over the hard ground, and soldiers dying are very realistic.

The fun factor and replayability are unreal. With five separate campaigns, three other game types, five difficulty levels and thirteen civilizations, you will be at this game a very long time. Internet capability further enhances this game. I played on the net a few times and it was pretty fun, because you can coordinate strategies with other players on your team and kick some serious rear or get your rear seriously kicked.

My overall score is 10/10. The gameplay, interface, sound, replayability, fun factor, and graphics make this game awesome. This is a definite a must buy for any fan of RTS games and good games in general.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 11/03/02, Updated 11/03/02

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