Review by Ninto

"Got AoE2? Then get this expansion pack!"

AoE2: The Conquerors is simply the expansion pack for the AoE2: Age Of Kings game. You have to buy the Age Of Kings version to play this but it is well worth the money because this improves everything that was missing or wrong in its predecessor. Age Of Kings had a few floors and glitches, AI that seemed a bit weak plus the several annoyances when managing resources, The Conquerors Expansion fixes these and also includes new material to bring a fresh new feel to an increasingly popular title.

Gameplay -
Several changes and additions have been included in this expansion pack which improve the game even further. First and foremost there are five new playable civilizations; the Aztecs, the Mayans, the Huns, the Spanish and the Koreans. The Mayans and Aztecs in particular bring a new meso-American building style to the game. Both play very different since the Aztecs are strong on infantry whereas the Mayans are highly skilled at archering and also unlike the other 16 civilizations, they do not have the ability to make cavalry so they have to rely on their other strengths. The Huns are very adept at taking down buildings fast with their Tarkans (man on horseback) plus they do not need to build houses to support their population. The Spanish have a particularly cool unique unit called the Conquistador (short range gunpowder unit on horseback) and the Koreans are given two unique units like the Vikings, they are an extremely powerful defense civilization and have excellent naval capabilities with the addition of their unique naval unit called the Turtle Ship.

Another noteworthy addition is that the civilizations have been tweaked and improved upon immensely. Ships can now move in formations just like the land units, you can also garrison units inside battering rams to make them go faster, and siege onagers do not instantly engage and attack the enemy if it would harm friendly units. Something which was highly frustrating in Age Of Kings was when half your warriors were taken down by your own siege weapons. New technologies have been given to all 18 civilizations such as Herbal Medicine, Heresy, Theocracy, Bloodiness. Caravan, Parthian Tactics, Thumb ring, as well as each civilization having access to a unique technology which improves its unique unit and team bonus.

Villagers are now a lot smarter than before. When several are sent to construct a wall, they spread themselves out to get it built faster instead of bunching up building the same piece one by one together which tended to happened a lot in Age Of Kings. When you send a villager to build a mine, mill or sawmill, you do not have to tell them to gather the resources because they do that as soon as the building has been constructed. You can now queue farms in The Conquerors, no more deserted farms which were so evident in Age Of Kings. Instead villagers now automatically replant the farms themselves. This helps you concentrate more on fighting and was a real disappointment in Age Of Kings but thankfully it has been remedied here.

With the new civilizations come additional campaigns such as Attila the Hun, El Cid, Montezuma and the ''Battle of the Conquerors''. As before these new 'missions' are very well thought out, challenging and interesting to do plus they get you into learning the strengths and weaknesses of the new races. In addition to the new campaigns there are 3 new modes to explore. These include Wonder Race, Defend the Wonder and King of the Hill. In Wonder race you start of with very few resources and have to build you civilizations wonder (which costs many resources) as fast as you can. Defend the wonder is very similar but in fact you begin with the wonder already built and you have to defend it for a specified time. Lastly there is King of the Hill which goes exactly how it says, simply take control of the monument at the top of the hill for the longest amount of time possible. The enemy will try and capture for their own civilization, so it's your task to fend them off and stay put to keep control.

Graphics -
Well this is an expansion pack so nothing to drastic on the looks side has changed, the graphics look almost exactly like Age Of Kings. There are a few noticeable additions which include winter and tropical locale. Whenever you walk over the snow you can even see the little footprints that are left behind, and on tropical maps you get to fend off Jaguars and use turkeys for food instead of the usual wolves and sheep, this shows very good attention to detail, nothing has been missed.

Real World maps are a nice little addition. You can now play on geographical locations such as Britain, Scandinavia and Central America. I must say that these maps are highly recognizable, all have been designed with great accuracy and look perfect. I'm sure you'll be going, hey look, I live there where that dead guy is!

Overall the graphics seem a little smoother and sharper. I particularly like the addition of ice and snow as this was sorely overlooked in Age Of Kings so now when playing on Arctic or Baltic locations, you really feel that your actually there.

Sound -
New music has been included which is in keeping with the new races. The songs are good, they don't distract you from the game, generally they very nicely, sooth and add to the unpredictable battlefield atmosphere. I'm glad to see that were still given all the amazing sound effects such as swords clashing, cavalry charging and the trebuchets sling noise as it releases some ballast etc....

Replay Value -
By including all the new features, especially the new campaigns modes and map types, the replay value has been given a great boost (not that it even needed it in the first place). Also the smart villagers and units make battling less frustrating and more fun. Again, Internet multiplayer play can be highly enjoyable and rewarding, so go try it now or at least check it out.

Overall -
This game absolutely rocks! I simply cannot say anything wrong about it because, well, there is nothing wrong with it. A must purchase for anyone who owns the Age Of Kings version, and for people that don't I strongly suggest getting into this series of games because they are simply amazing! I don't give many 10/10 but this game deserves it.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 03/04/02, Updated 03/04/02

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