Welcome to Revive or Die, this is where we delve deep into gaming’s past and decide whether game series that aren’t with us anymore should be revived or kept dead.
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Developer(s): Ensemble Studios, Big Huge Games, Robot Entertainment
Publisher(s): Microsoft Studios
Release Date: October 15th, 1997
If your a PC gamer then chances are you have probably heard about Age of Empires, even if you aren’t a PC gamer, this game has been around for a very long time. Starting off in 1997 with Age of Empires. These real-time strategy games were similar to those of Empire Earth and Civilization. Players would start out with a few units and they would have to build themselves an army and a base in order to achieve victory.
What was really unique about these games is that you would start of in the Stone Age usually, then gradually progressing your way into more modern developments. You could play across different continents and shape the battle in your own unique way. This became more of a deal clincher through the later games like Age of Empires II. Moving away from the type of units and style you would have experienced in the original game, starting you in the Dark Ages.
Throughout the Age of Empires series you had vast amounts of options in terms of what civilization you wanted to be, the units and buildings you could build and how you approach the game in a general sense. The reason I had so much fun playing these games was because I love building armies and especially when I can build a base for all of my kingdom. This all worked very smoothly and you could truly take over the world if you played your cards right.
There was also a multiplayer mode which is essential in this type of game, well the first game to support this was Age of Empires II. You could play over the internet or locally via LAN, if you didn’t like using dial up that was your only option really. The service was initially hosted by the MSN Gaming Zone until their servers closed. You can still play online now with some other viable options like GameSpy Arcade.
The first game scored relatively well but it did receive some criticism for its “confusing design” said GameSpot. However this wasn’t the case for most people as their early games all scored very well. Age of Empires II scored the highest overall score with 92% on Metacritic. Because of the way that Age of Empires was designed it was easy to add additional content through expansion packs which at the time seemed really cool, adding extra units, buildings and civilizations. But like most things these expansions started to come a bit to frequently and the milking of the franchise seemed to being after Age of Empires III.
For me it all seemed to go wrong after Age of Empires III, I wasn’t interested in the first place and it didn’t exactly score that well. The problem with it was we started to see more of the same, as you would expect after all this time. However they did eventually launch expansion packs for this game and they did manage to improve it, by focusing on specific times in history and giving you a much richer experience.
Age of Empires is based around real history and for the most part it sticks to it rather well, I mean sure you can end up with a car that can kill everything in a flash with some cheat codes (don’t tell me you didn’t try it). However Age of Mythology was the spin off game that just made sense. Instead of focusing on real history it tackled myths and legends from the Greek, Egyptian and Norse stories. This game was a huge success and just like all Age of Empire games it ended up with an expansion pack.
So Age of Empires and Age of Mythology kicked ass back in the day, but they certainly don’t anymore. There have been a couple of Nintendo DS ports, one for Empires and one for Mythology but it isn’t exactly moving the game forward. This brings us onto the newest installment of Age of Empires: Online. If you are a fan of the older series then this one could have easily annoyed you with its cartoonish art style and poor army building dynamics. This was a huge step away from what the series was originally known for, that being said it is kind off free. You can basically play a small demo for each civilization before having to purchase them, like micro transactions. Not cool.
I think I know what all of the old Age of Empires fans want and need, its fairly simple. Remake Age of Empires II with some slick HD visuals and some new units and buildings, hey why not bundle Age of Mythology with it? It doesn’t have to be revolutionary, it just needs to be what it was before. It has been so long since a real-time strategy has come to the market and truly blew people away. Simple solution go back to the old game and make it HD.