I used to be a huge fan of RTS games. I really was -- I'd play Caesar III, Pharoah, Empire Earth, Stronghold etc... all the time. Until Age Of Empires came. So is this game really as good as hyped? Has it really changed the way games look? Let’s find out
The story..? Well there's no story. You get different campaigns and they have their own historic story. They are true but the way the story is represented is unprofessional and boring.
The graphics..? Well this game is 2D and the resolution won't go any more than SXGA. The models are made up of simple rgb combinations.
The sound..? Not interesting. You can hear an owl hoot but you cannot hear mighty heroes' big swords clanking against each other sometimes.
But then here's the real stuff -- gameplay. This is where you will forget that everything bad in this game ever existed. The gameplay is just as simple and informative as one would want. I can’t explain how good the gameplay is in just one sentence, so I am going to use many.
So there's an HUD, a simple one rather. Towards the right is the multi-purpose and multi-display mini-map. In the center is information display. Towards the left is the action pane. On the top is the status area and towards the top-right is the options menu icon. This HUD is just as simple and lucid as possible. If you select a person, depending on what kind of person he/she is, you get different information and actions regarding the selection. Suppose, you select a villager, that is basically a worker, you get options to build something and cancel any ongoing action. If you select military personnel, you can alter their stance and strategy.
So here's basically what you do -- in most of the games, you get a stockpile of basic resources; food, wood, gold and rock. Using these resources, you have to train villagers, collect more resources, construct buildings, collect even more resources, setup defenses and train soldiers, attack other civilizations, gain their resources and territory, advance technologically, convert your village to a mega-kingdom and finally defeat your opponents. This seems rather simple and easy but it isn't. This also seems short and nifty, but some battles can last for hours.
You have different civilizations, I think 12 of them in total. Each civilization has certain advantages over some kind of situations over the others. But they also have disadvantages over the others. It really is a matter of cognizing and understanding the strong points of your civilization and use them against the weak points of other civilizations. The campaign mode has a story and makes you stick to a relevant civilization, but in random maps, you can select a civilization of your own choice. Each civilization has a tech-tree that allows you to understand what all technologies are available to your current civilization and what are its strong points. You will have to figure out the weak points on your own. I personally prefer Britain in most of the situations and I also like the Byzantines for times when all kinds of military units matter.
Then is the choice of strategy. Obviously you can take your time and do everything your civilization offers but I like an offensive approach and make a huge military in early stages and wipe out my enemy without researching altogether, but I am screwed if someone else attacks me first because I don’t concentrate on my defenses a lot. You can't have a neutral approach saying that you can be both offensive and defensive because by the time you advance with your approach, someone with a strong offensive approach will wipe you out. So you have to learn a good balance of the strategies and use them in an appropriate way. The resources are scarce and you must use them in the best way possible, judicially. Everything in this game is interlinked and you will like it.
After the choice of strategy, you have to choose what units you want to train, buildings you want to construct and technologies you want to research. Making more units means more work basically. Building allows you to make units and perform other defensive tasks. Technologies allow you to use the resources in a best way possible and multiply your defenses and attack. Everything requires resources, you collect resources by assigning villagers, you protect villagers by your army and defenses, your construct your army and defenses using buildings, you construct the building by assigning villagers, you train villagers using town center and then the cycle goes back again.
Of course you have single player and multi-player and I think that the multi-player ROCKS!!! You can have endless fun in the multi-player mode. I've never seen a multi-player game that's even half as fun as this one.
Then is the game's concept. I really like the way the game is based upon the history. The 2D graphics, the classic model design and a very simple yet strategic war approach. The game is lovely and somehow I want this game to suck when it comes to graphics and sounds and other technological advancements in games, because in my opinion, this game makes much more sense this way.
Any downsides..? Well, the AI has a couple of quirks. Some may also say that the graphics suck! There are also a very few visual glitches and rare bugs.
So, here I am, ready to wrap another game up. In my opinion, this classically designed 2D game is the best RTS game ever. I was so happy and thought that if this is the way RTS games keep progressing, we all couldn’t have been more fortunate. But I was wrong, the modern RTS games are a graphical wonder, based on alien invasions and supernatural physics. They all are 3D with a million possibilities in the gameplay. I seriously want to say that the modern games are horribly overdone. I tried a lot to play the modern RTS games and here I am, with no interest and passion left for the RTS games altogether.
So, if was given a chance to change one thing about this game, I'd rather pass.