Review by Game Magician

"Flashing swords in the raging battle. Only now do I truly realize what that means."

Age of Empires is a beauty of the computer system, an intricately designed game that will leave you broken, breathless, and begging for more. Crush your enemies in your firm grip, possess total control of your villagers, your soldiers, your buildings, go berserk and wage war towards your allies and neutrals, destroy every single building, every single obstacle in your path, do it all with this game, this great game with the name of Age of Empires.

Gameplay: The gameplay of Age of Empires is very delicate, one single soldier can throw the entire war off course. Your objective of this game varies from totally crushing
your enemies, building a Wonder and protecting it for 10,000 years, reach the limit amount of resources, or get a certain character to a certain place, depending of if you are playing single player modes or the special campaignes
You work your way up the technology ladder, trying to gather as many resources as you can. You gather resources by building villagers, the more there are, the faster your resources pour in. The problem is, villagers cost money to build, valuable resources. So your choice, spend money, or not to spend money. There are also technologies that enhances the villager’s workpace, and those are always good choices, because resources are the main backbone of your economy, you cannot do anything without enough resources.
As your resources grow and you have enough, you must advance to the next age, which allows you a wider variety of units to build, a wider arrange of technology, and new buildings to construct. This is always a good idea, it’s not a good one to fall behind on your enemies, as they process through the ages, they are able to build stronger buildings and units, and are far by superior to your troops.

It is always important to have a good military system as well as a good economic one. You must be always be able to defend yourself from incoming attacks from your numerous enemies. A good defense is always very important. Walls to temporarily keep your enemies out and delay them from invading your bases, and towers to fire arrows at the invaders. Towers should be posted near walls and the scattered throughout your entire base. A couple of hit-and-run calvary knights to weave around enemy lines and to take down the siege engines are very important, as they commit a lot of damage, especially to your walls and towers, as well as towers and castles, stocked with some Archers and Skirmishers for extra power, to fire arrows at the ground troops hacking at your defenses.

There are many different types of units, each with their different strengths and weaknesses. Archers, as their name indicates, fire arrows from a distance. They are, however, not endurable, and will fall to enemy attacks (and especially Skirmishers) if you do not provide them some protection. Archers are best used when posted on high elevation or cliffs so they can weaken or kill passing enemy units.

Ground troops are otherwise known as militia. They should make up most of your army, for they are both durable, strong, and cheap. There are many different kinds of militia, some using swords, the others using spears. However, as strong as they are, they do not stand a chance against knights. Knights are the heavy troops, and there are two types, light calvary and heavy calvary. The Light Calvary tend to be a little faster, and are best used for sweeping to the flank of your enemy’s units and hacking away. The heavy calvary is best used for direct, head-on attacks on the enemy bases.

But what would an army be wounded and broken? Well, that’s what Monks are for. They have two purposes and two purposes only. They can be placed at rendez-vous points or at your base to heal hit-and-run troops. The other purpose is to convert enemy troops to your side. Converting takes energy points, and Monks take time to recharge. Monks are also very delicate, but that should not stop you from exploiting them to their fullest potential. Post them behind your walls and have them convert enemy troops that are hacking away. Your troops will die during battle, and it will take resources to replace them. To minimize that effect, try pulling away seriously wounded units and having them run to a Monk hidden nearby, and repeat that process for every unit in the red area.

Siege engines are powerful but slow units that are used for taking down walls of a base not breached easily. There are two types of siege engines, the mass effect and the wood and stone. The wood and stone are best used for buildings, and some of them, such as the Trebutchet, can fire from a very long distance. Others, such as the Battering Ram, must get directly up close in order to attack. The mass effect, for example the Mangonel, can be used against wood and stone as well as units. Be warned, however, that mass effect troops will not only damage your enemy, it will damage you as well. Siege engines are delicate, however, and also expensive, and should always travel with heavy escorts.

Technology, a very important part of a game, this game, anyway. As I said earlier, quality over quantity, and as you advance throughout the ages, you should always try to research as many technologies as you can without running your resources dry. There are many different types of technologies, varying from increasing the HP of your walls and buildings, or upgrading your units so that they become stronger and more endurable.

But who ever said that brawns was the only way to win? No, diplomacy is also important. Enemies, naturally, will attack you, but you are free to retort and attack back. Neutrals will or will not attack you, and you are free to attack them. Allies will actually aid you in your quest to crush the opposition, and you cannot attack them as long as you remain allies.

There are many different civilizations, each with their own
unique technologies, advantages and disadvantages, and unique units. There are over 10 civilizations to chose from, try playing them all!

You would not believe the number of options and possibilities available in Age of Empires. Build a huge empire and wait to crush your enemies, or build a small army and attack them right away straight from the beginning. Build a Wonder and protect it from all enemy attacks, or try to attack a Wonder yourself. Do anything and everything in this game, a masterpiece of the 21st century.

Gameplay: 10/10

Sound: The music is somewhat limited, so I suppose it doesn’t really count, although all of the music they do produce is good. The sound, however, is varied and spectacular. It’s a fighting game, so naturally you will clash in battle, and when that does happen, you can actually hear the ringing of swords coming together, or each and everyone of your units dying from sheer number. Anything and everything, the sound of Age of Empires is truly a miracle, but it’s not perfect. Some sounds are a bit off, it doesn’t really sound appropriate for such a thing, but overall, you don’t notice it, not really.

Rating: 9/10

Graphics: The people look like ants, and you look like you’re looking at them from a bird’s eye view, but that’s not a bad thing. It actually makes controlling your units easier and less of a task. Pretty good for a computer’s graphics, you can see the blood bursting when your unit dies in either battle or suicide.

Replay: Well, of course! How can you leave such a magnificent game untouched? You can play Age of Empires for a long, long time before you actually get bored of it. Why? Because you can do anything, ranging from campaigns to special modes of gameplay.

Difficulty: Age of Empires take a long time to learn, and even longer to perfect. It’s not an easy game, but that only adds to the amount of fun and exhilaration. It can be hard, but hey, that’s all good, isn’t it?

Rent, buy? Well, you can’t rent computer games, but you can try borrowing it from a friend, however. If you cannot find a source to temporarily play, however, I would definitely recommend this as a buy. This is a great game, perhaps nothing short of miraculous. Although it is my beliefs that no game is ever truly perfect, and this game still hasn’t broken it yet, it still came close, and that’s worth more than words or reviews can ever say to me.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 04/07/03, Updated 04/10/03

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