Review by Defense

"You don't have it yet ? Go hang yourself."

Here it is. The one. The only. Age of Empires II !

Enough babbling : Age of Empires II, dubed Age of Kings, takes place right after the fall of Rome, where the original left of. As its predessecor, Historical content is the order of the day.

Age of Kings is a real-time strategy game, taking place in the middle ages. You can choose between 13 civilizations : British, Celts, Franks, Saracens..., each with unique attributes, and a unique unit, one of the major deciding factors of the game. The game is played, as Age 1, in 2D graphics. But do not let that affect your judgement, the graphics are much nicer than most strategy games on the market.


9 ? Only 9 ? Yes, only 9. Why ? For a couple of reasons. The game is hard : too hard. The Scottish learning campaign is a joke, the third French mission takes 2 or more hours to complete. The controls are easy, Age of Empires 1 fans will find their way, but newby strategy gamers may be a bit disorientated. But the huge and detailed manual should help get those rare ones back on line.


There isn't a story : you don't just invent history do you ? The battles in the game are based on real life ones : the devellopers have obviously done extensive research to get the history just right, and after playing, you will actually feel to have learnt something. Such as : bowmen or archers ? Just kidding.


Now THIS is a major point of the game : the graphics. The buildings have evolved since Age 1 : you don't get horses taller than the Pyramids of Gizeh, and the units are marvellously detailed. Hey, I could swear I saw that horse blink ?! The size of the buildings, would, logically, block the view, but Ensemble studios have ingeniously surrounded hidden units with a coloured ring, varying depending on yours.


The major downfall of the game : the in game music and sound effects are exellent, but the briefing voices are extremelly average. The Scottish man sounds more like a hippo witha bad case of Bronchitis.


The game is EXTREMELLY long, hard, and EXREMELLY MEGA adictive. Once you start, you can't stop. The 4 campaigns may seem few, but they are hard. Once you have finished those, you can always play a Random Map, a Deathmatch, or a Regicide, where the objet is to kill the enemy kings while keeping your alive. Or if that doesn't satisfy you, you can always create your own scenarios using the handy built in editor, or play a multiplayer games, network or using the Microsoft gaming Zone.

So is this game worth it ? Yes. It really is. Combining good graphics, replayability, sound,ad most importantly gameplay, it is a must for all strategy gamers, and even others. Get it if don't have it, or don't. You'll just be missing out on the strategy game of the year, of the century, of the millenium !

OVERALL SCORE : 9,25 , but I rounded it to 10, for numerous reasons.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 11/01/99, Updated 11/01/99

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