age of empires review 2023

Age of Empires: A Timeless Artifact

Games Retro

Everyone has their origin story of how they first got into gaming. In the early 2000s, I was surrounded by those who played on consoles such as the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3, and the Wii. I didn’t start out with console gaming though. I received my first computer, an HP Pavilion 513w.

It ran on Windows XP and had some experiences fooling around with Internet Explorer 8, Office 2003, and some of the games it came with like Spider Solitaire. Around this time, we were meeting new neighbors and came across a game they were playing.

My dad decided to put the demo of that game on my computer. From that point on, I received the full game on Christmas and the game itself has been a game that I would play throughout my life. In this article you can watch my YouTube Review and my thoughts on Age of Empires.

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What is Age of Empires?

Age of Empires is a historical Real Time Strategy game that takes place in the Stone Age to the Iron Age. You start from humble beginnings and progress all the way up to a grand-scale empire.  Originally it came out in 1997, developed by Ensemble Studios and published by Microsoft. Age of Empires would find itself to be part of the popular RTS games like StarCraft and Command & Conquer.

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          Age of Empires would become the best-selling RTS and would find itself in kid’s cereal boxes in Australia. The game would gain popularity for the years to come. The game wouldn’t have become an eSport like other RTS games as the developer’s main goal for Age of Empires was to get anyone into the game whether you are familiar with an RTS or not.

          While Age of Empires is a historical strategy game. The game wasn’t marketed as an educational game. Bill Gates at the time thought it would be a great idea but one of the designers, “Bruce Shelly”, previously worked with Sid Meiers in collaboration to design the Civilization games. He said, “There’s an education that might happen, but it’s not going to happen until people are going to have fun. We got to entertain them first and if they learn something then that’s great.”

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Historical Campaigns

When I first played Age of Empires, one of the first experiences I had were the single-player campaigns. There are other single-player options like Random Map, Deathmatch, and Scenario. In most modes, you can play by yourself, test maps, or play them in multiplayer.

          The campaigns take place in historical time periods between 8000 BC and 365 AD. Even if you don’t know how to play Age of Empires. There is a tutorial that shows you how to play the game with its own campaign set. This campaign setting takes place in Egypt. Allowing you to take control of Egypt and see how far you can go in the campaign. The majority of the campaigns are packed with goodies like a history tab to show you what part of history this campaign takes place in. Some of these campaigns will let you take part in the Glory of Greece, the Babylonian Empire, and the Yamato Empire of the Rising Sun.

          These campaigns are very lengthy and very well made. Allowing you to not just take part in the historical setting but also letting you take the time to build your own fortress design, gather resources for upgrades, and amass an Army. You aren’t told how to play the other campaigns. You can think of creative strategies to conquer your foes no matter how long it may take.

Rise of Rome Expansion

After a while of playing and finishing all the campaigns in Age of Empires. I decided to download the expansion pack called Rise of Rome.

          The Rise of Rome Expansion contains new campaigns and new civilizations to play. Some of these campaigns will let you take part at the beginning of Rome, helping Julius Caesar fight pirates, or play a campaign filled with a few different campaigns that let you play as the enemy civilizations of Rome.  

New game mechanics have been improved to speed up the pacing of the game such as double-clicking on units to select certain types of units versus pressing the ctrl key and manually selecting the same type of units. Production queues were added to speed up the pace of the game. Originally the first game could only make one villager or soldier at a time. This allowed you to click the production of more units so they can start working or preparing for war.

I fondly remember playing the Rise of Rome expansion. Some of the campaigns were fun while the most replayed campaign I played is Caesar vs Pirates. While I did finish that campaign. I would go back to it for more by not following the main objectives and trying to see how far the wars will last until no one has any resources.

Caesar’s Fleet of Trireme’s taking out the pirates

In the years to come, I would play mainly on PC, and whenever I would either play on a computer with a CD Drive or use my portable CD Drive. The Age of Empires Collectors edition would be one of my go-to games to play.

Age of Empires: Definitive Edition

During my high school years. I saw a trailer from Microsoft about a remastered version of the Age of Empires game. I ended up having to wait to try out the remaster due to not having a Windows 10 pc and the pc I had before which ran on Vista at the time couldn’t upgrade to Windows 10. The wait was well worth it and I got the game when it was released on Steam.

Age of Empires: Definitive Edition trailer

While I wasn’t too familiar with what a remaster was. I looked at it and it blew me away. From playing the original Age of Empires for almost a decade. The graphical upgrades were quite insane. While I never cared much for graphical fidelity. It was cool how they upped the fidelity to 11 but kept it very faithful. Even more faithful to the point that the remaster uses the same Genie engine used for the original game. Another thing they did that made the game sound pretty interesting was that they changed the music from MIDI Sounds too real orchestral music using actual instruments. One thing that was added was a narrator for the campaigns.

          There were some things that were included in the remaster that are optional like turning on blood. Even though the original game doesn’t have blood. I did enable it and tried it for an hour. I Didn’t notice it and decided to disable it.

I never had the experience to play online multiplayer, let alone I never knew how to use MSN Gaming Zone around the time when it was still around when playing the original. I noticed the game would use the Xbox Live service for the multiplayer but good thing I realized I didn’t have to pay for it since I was on PC.

When I first entered a multiplayer Duel. I decided to message the enemy player by saying I was new to RTS Multiplayer. From years of experience playing by myself in the campaigns or random maps. I noticed the enemy player would use houses in place of walls. He did end up building a wonder, but I went on the other side of the map to send a bunch of Centurions to easily destroy the wonder. Only one was left remaining and I took out the wonder before the other player could cry out for victory. I decided to defend myself, I walled myself in but only left the other 2 sides open. Near the walls would have Babylonian towers and monks. While gaining more resources in the process. I was able to build a wonder. I successfully defended myself from incoming attacks and turned enemy catapults into my own using the monks. I angered the other player, and he sent out a message saying I lied and surrendered. I gained a victory, but it was a lucky one that lasted for two hours.

first duel

I did end up replaying the campaigns I had finished all those years ago. Most of them were the same with some of the campaign titles different. I did like how they added the Age of Empires Demo campaign which wasn’t in the original release. While knowing everything and how to beat the game. I ended up having an Achievement completion in under four months of playing the game.

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Reign of the Hittites (Age of Empires Demo Campaign)

Age of Empire Flaws

Age of Empires: Definitive Edition is a great remaster and I hold massive amounts of nostalgia for it. There’s only one flaw worth mentioning. If you never played the original game before. The remaster does contain a classic mode but only in the custom games. You won’t be able to play Classic graphics in campaigns with widescreen support and original music. Let alone if you wanted to play multiplayer.

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Age of Empires is one of the very first games I played on PC and still is one of my favorite strategy game franchises of all time. I simply will never get bored of it, and I don’t think you will either. If you want to get into Age of Empires. Age of Empires Definitive Edition goes on sale for as low as $5.

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