Age of Empires II was originally released back in 1999 and was seen as one of the most iconic strategy games of its time. Now in the year of 2013, the game returns to PC users and is better than ever before. The matter at hand however, is whether the game can stand up to today’s standard or whether it is something that should have been left in the past. Does Age of Empires bring armies of gamers together or does it crumble after being besieged? Let’s have a look and find out.
Firstly, let us have a look at what the single player has to offer. The single player allows you to set up your own casual game against AI where you can make all the rules or throws you into one of the Age of Kings or Conquerors scenarios. These scenarios tie in with historical events that were happening around the same time as one another. From the Age of kings you can be commanding the Scottish warrior William Wallace to overthrowing China on horseback with Genghis Khan. On the Conquerors side you can be fighting alongside Attila the Hun to taking over the new world as El Cid. On top of all that you can even participate in legendary historical battles such as the Battle of Hastings, Agincourt and Kyoto.
The single player experience is huge, and I mean huge. You will be spending hours playing with the different factions and taking part in epic moments of history. It still feels amazing to just sit back and have a classic RTS experience take you away. Even after you have completed all the campaign scenarios, there is an endless array of battles you can create with the single player custom scenario. You set the rules, the limits, the units and the winning conditions and challenge yourself to become the best.
Now let us talk Multiplayer content. This is where the game feels fully revitalised. Thanks to the Steam Servers, players will be able to go online with friends to battle one another or to partake in epic confrontations against AI opponents. On top of all the fun you can be having online with friends, you can also check out the community content for the game via the steam workshop. With full workshop support, you can have more maps, more scenarios and even more factions. The game never seems to end and always seems to get better.
So you might be thinking “How has this game been remastered?”, well allow me to inform you. First off they have an enhanced visual engine that makes the game look better without getting rid of the classic aesthetic touch that the original had. The game is now also multi-monitor enabled, allowing people with multiple screens to expand their battlefield view and play the game how they like to play it. All of these plus the new multiplayer experience and the steam workshop capabilities mean the remaster is done superbly to adapt the 20th Century title into a 21st Century game.
Okay, so there must be some issues with the game right, I mean it can’t be perfect? Well although the game does bring back a lot of good elements in the gameplay, it also brings back some bad habits and even some annoying glitches. First there is the classic glitch of placing buildings too close to one another. I had an experience recently and in the past where I would build a series of houses close to one another but then my villages would be stuck inside or behind the houses with no way of getting out. Of course you can use the in game ability to kill this rogue villager, but this means that you have to now go out of your way to make a replacement villager when you could be needing your resources for other things.
As for bad habits, these return in the form of the classic Age of Empires II cheats. Now don’t get me wrong, the cheats are fun to play around with and can still make the game enjoyable. However I have seen that after you have been using the cheats for a while in the game, you start to naturally do it on your own thinking that it is a legitimate way to play. This can cause players to change their play style completely and find it tough to get out of using these helpful and game breaking codes.
Another tiny note to bring up is the scenes you watch before going into a scenario. These scenes are really well narrated and displayed, immersing you into the world. However from time-to-time there are moments when the narrator’s text in the books or on the parchments comes out white instead of black. This makes the text very hard, if not impossible to read, and can get on the nerves of those gamers who do wish to learn a little about the history of these battles and immerse themselves accordingly.
Overall it is a great joy to see Age of empires II back in the hands of gamers. The game has been remastered well without losing the classic flare that the original brought back in 1999. The game looks gorgeous and feels like it has new life thanks to the additions of the Steam Workshop and an updated multiplayer experience. Although there are a few problems here and there and the game won’t entice a lot of people, it is a fun and historical experience that at least every strategy game fan should get their hands on.
So there you have it, a look into the HD revision of Age of Empires II. Now what do you guys think of the game? Do you believe it puts the strategy games of the new age in their place or do you reckon it just isn’t up to par with the 21st Century? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and be sure to pick up Age of Empires II: HD Edition on Steam now.