Review by Braben

"Better than the first in almost every way, but I liked the first one better."

After the amazing success and all the recognition Microsoft earned with Age of Empires with was more than obvious that the sequel was just matter of time.

For me the problem in this sequel is that continues where AoE left, so we will begin to play from the feudal age, and what I loved about AoE was that it almost a prehistoric game. Age of Kings is a more modern game, with guns, cannons, castles and things like that, it is great, but I prefer the ancient feel of the first game.

The graphics are as beautiful as they were in the first part, but it is not the amazing level of detail what will amaze you the first time you play, it is they H-U-G-E size, and I don’t mean huge, I mean HUGE. I can’t remember a strategy game with bigger structures, they are so big that sometimes you will only see one or two building at the same time on the screen. Having a powerful PC is important for this reason too.

Thankfully and amazingly the soundtrack is as good as it was before, sometimes is even better, and that means it is so beautiful that it is hard explain with mere words. Listen t it or you won’t understand. The unit’s voices however, are as bland as they were before, they just say weird unintelligible words.

Age of Kings is almost a completely new game, it has been improved in every way imaginable, so much that I would say it is not AoE anymore. Luckily, most of the changes have been for good:

There are 13 civilizations this time, and each one has one special unit as well as another special abilities like faster units, the ability to mine gold more quickly, or to shot faster, or more powerful and less expensive structures, and a REALLY big etcetera. Also the number of structures for each race has been increased. While some civilizations still have structures and units in common, there are enough differences between them, this time they really are different from each other.

Your units now work in formations, there are lots of them, offensive, defensive, with cavalry units in the front line and archers behind, protecting less powerful units… and everything with just one click. This is extremely useful and makes the game look fantastic.

Some units can now get inside some building to increase your defenses, for example you can place archers inside towers to shot more arrows, or hide peasants into your town centre to prevent them from being harmed during an attack, and things like that.

There is a lot more plot in this sequel, (or I should better say that there is a plot this time), each race as its hero (Genghis Kahn, William Wallace, Saladin, etc) and the plot will follow the life of that characters, so the game is based on real historical facts.

Playing online is really easy with Age of Empires II, much easier than the first one because the online options actually work this time, yet is very frustrating to play online for people like me, who gets annihilated even after having built his first peasant, those people there play like rabid monkeys. I know I am pretty bad at these games, I lack fighting spirit, but they are too much.

I liked the first AoE better, but I admit that this sequel is way better than it’s predecessor, it has been greatly improved and all the gameplay problems the first AoE had have been solved. With all I think that Starcraft and Command & Conquer (the first one and Red Alert because Tiberian Sun stinks) are better, but that is only because I have very weird tastes, if you like strategy games Age of Empires II it is going to be your new god.

”My lack of vocabulary and grammatical errors (if there’s any) are because I’m not from an English speaking country, sorry about that”.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 12/16/03

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