A Gold Mine in the Rough
Classic strategy games are beginning to become an old and tired genre of games. We've seen game after game follow the same old formula for as long as computer games have existed, each one, while perhaps fun, as conceptually dull as the previous one. For a few top series, however, they were the games that defined exactly what that standard for cloning should be. Age of Empires is just one of those series.
The original Age of Empires was something of a unique game. It didn't take place on an alien world, or feature space marines. It didn't have magical knights fighting monsters of a bygone era. It was one of the few titles ever to be produced that could be considered educational. Not only did the missions follow real military campaigns of the pre-Roman eras (and in the expansion, the Roman era itself) and the actual leaders of the day, but it featured a near-encyclopedia of the history around it. It was the first game that you could actually consider handing out to kids, yet could be considered fun.
AOEII: The Age of Kings, and The Conquerors expansion brought this same educational value back to the PC, yet with it, some of the most strategic gameplay to date. Age of Empires, while a true member of the "classic" RTS genre, always stood out a bit from the crowd. Most RTS games features some level of resource mining, the building of a small base, and the destruction of your opponent. Age of Empires has had far more of a focus on resource mining, logistics, and base building than the actual attacking, reserving true and useful attacks for the late game after siege weapons are acquired. The only use of a large offensive force before that is primarily reserved for base defense. The primary resources have multiple sources, and typically far more than the maximum resources are required to effectively build all buildings and still keep a sizable army. In addition, you can upgrade the era with enough resources until you possess sufficient technology to really be a threat to enemy bases.
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