Review by zyxomma100

"A game that has withstood the test of time"

Age of Empires II (aka AoK) is an RTS that has been around for several years. Since 1998, it has sold, and even as I speak the price for the Gold Edition is $30, the same as the price for the Rise of Nations Gold Edition, which came out very recently compared to AoK, a testament to AoK's longevity and greatness.

While I had only played the original Age of Empires before, I went out and bought the Gold Edition of AoK on a whim, and now I'm glad I did. I consider AoK to be the single best computer game purchase I have ever made.

Before I review, I want to first say that I know it is the year 2005, and that many current games can blow AoK's graphics out of the water. However, my review will attempt to remove all age bias, and will grade only on gameplay, and graphics compared to other games and computer performance abilities of the time.

Graphics/Sound 9
The units look great. The wide variety of units and buildings, along with natural enhancements make this a beautiful game. Especially once you get to Scenario Designing (one site holds an annual Pretty Town Contest), you can understand just how great the 2D graphics are, even after all these years.

The sounds, however, aren't exactly the best, but they adequately serve their purpose. The death sounds especially seem faked, but that is excusable when you listen to the music. The AoK music is a wonderful 31 minute long soundtrack that I listen to all the time, even outside the game.

Playability 10
The empire building aspect of AoK is as entertaining as it gets. There are countless playing styles, and several game modes, including Defend the Wonder, Regicide (protect your king), and Monument (capture the center of the map and hold it). There are over 100 units (including upgrades) to use, and a simple attack bonus system helps make sure that no one unit can be the ultimate.

No matter what, there is always a new experience with AoK. While I started off playing single player against the computer, I moved onto multiplayer random maps, and then to scenario designing. Each game type is fun in its own way, and the greatest part is that there is unlimited replay value. No 2 AoK games are ever the same, due to the innovative (well, at its time) random map generator, which literally has trillions of possible combinations.

The scenario design aspect is personally my favorite, because of a powerful map editor that allows for creative and fun campaigns to play, and as the years have progressed, most designers have far surpassed the ES designer's abilities, allowing for even better and more fun scenarios to play.

My Tilt 10
My favorite computer game of all time. The medieval setting was well executed, and the map editor adds a whole new dimension to the game. While the game is old, the gameplay cannot be beaten. AoK is simply great; IMO even games such as Rome: Total War have not been able to match its fun factor.

Overall 10
While some may judge me to be a harsh judge, I say most are too lenient. In my system, a 5 is average (you can't argue with the logic there), and the rating increases or decreases based on that benchmark.

Although AoK is a game that is a remarkable 6 years old, thousands of gamers at a time still play it at the the Zone, and countless others design scenarios and play single player. AoK is an unprecedented RTS that IMO even games like Age of Mythology and Rise of Nations couldn't match. Buy it now; AoK may be old, but it is still going strong.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 01/03/05

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