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Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings

Developer: Ensemble Studios Publisher: Microsoft
30 September 1999
Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings - cover art
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4.03 / 5.0
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999 Ratings / 3 Reviews
#128 All-time
#7 for 1999
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Releases 10
1999 Ensemble Microsoft  
CD-ROM
XNA 8 05529 04989 5
Age of Empires II Gold Edition
2000 Ensemble Microsoft  
2xCD-ROM
8 05529 13208 5
Show all 10 releases
2001 Ensemble Konami  
DVD
GB 4 012927 220016 SLES-50282
2001 Ensemble Konami  
CD-ROM
DE 4 012927 220023 SLES-50282
2001 Ensemble Konami  
CD-ROM
ES 4 012927 220047 SLES-50282
2001 Ensemble Konami  
CD-ROM
FR 4 012927 220030 SLES-50282
2002 Ensemble Konami  
CD-ROM
JP 4 988602 081749 SLPM-62076
Age of Empires II HD Edition
2013 SkyBox Hidden Path  
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Age of Empires II Definitive Edition
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Title
Age of Empires II and The Conquerors expansion had a huge following with its original release in 1999. It had an active online community for several years until Microsoft shut down the servers, but even then, there were still third party ways of playing online. There was also the creative side of the community; people liked creating mods, custom maps and campaigns. Due to the potential audience, it is no surprise this game was chosen to receive a HD update and provide an easy way to play multiplayer games and install mods via Steam.

In Age of Empires, you take control of a civilization, gathering resources to create buildings, build an army, and invest in research in order to defeat your enemies. A game starting in the Dark Ages would usually give you a Town Centre and some Villagers, and would see you advance through to the Feudal Age, Castle Age, then Imperial Age. To advance through the ages, you need to build a couple of buildings from that era, and collect the required amount of resources to advance. At each Age, you will gain access to different types of buildings, better military units and better research upgrades to improve your army.

The strategy is getting the balance between resource collecting, creating your army, and upgrading it to give you the competitive edge. You need to explore the map to uncover it, finding access to more resources (Food, Wood, Stone, Gold), locating your enemy, and finding strategic positions on the map. The game uses 'Fog of War' where you can only see enemies if they are in range of your units and buildings. Unexplored map is totally black and out of range areas are foggy.

The military units have different strengths and weaknesses, and sometimes comes down to a rock-paper-scissors formula. For example, Pikemen are good against mounted units. It's therefore advantageous to have at least a few types of unit in your army, otherwise you leave yourself vulnerable for a simple counter. Each civilisation has certain strengths and weaknesses too, so it's best to invest in your stronger units and avoid your weaker ones. Most civilisations have the same core set of units with the addition of one or more unique units.

There's a Campaign mode where the scenarios are based on historical events and follow famous generals such as Barbarosa, Genghis Khan, Attila The Hun, Joan of Arc etc. If you would rather battle properly without playing with the set pieces in the campaign, you can play Random Map where you can specify how many opponents, teams, map sizes, starting age and many other options.

When the HD version was first released, there was a large list of problems. The numerous patches that followed fixed bugs but introduced others, and this was a recurring pattern over the years. For example, a patch fixed this issue: 'AI should now function correctly and participate during gameplay'. How the previous patch managed to get released with a bug like that is anyone's guess.

Once major complaint of the HD release was the lack of HD textures. Some of the graphics were tweaked and looked better, but some objects like cliffs and farms initially looked horrendous. The major selling point was that the game supported larger resolutions than the original game. It was this fact that they were selling the HD moniker on, rather than a overhaul of graphics.

Rather than introduce changes to the interface to add features that were seen in subsequent installments (like Age of Empires 3), it sounded like the developers focussed their efforts on refactoring the game's code and tweaking AI scripts. After this, they began adding new content in the form of expansion packs where new civilisations and campaigns were added.

Back in the day, I racked up an insane amount of time on the original Age of Empires II, and it's easy to do the same now. The game has aged a lot in the way it plays, and you notice how slow it takes to progress through the ages if you have played games like Age of Empires 3 which streamlined the process a lot. Initially, it was hard to recommend this HD release, but since the major issues have been resolved and there's plenty of tweaks to the game; then it's worth picking up if you wish to revisit the game. If you are a newcomer, then it's probably best looking for a more modern strategy game, since I think the major appeal of this game is nostalgia.
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Honestly, the game is pretty dated. I play it with a friend who played it a long while back.

It's a decently fun game. Nowadays it's simply not good enough to suck me in, make me play it alone as someone new to the series. However, I can see completely why people who liked the game when they were younger would want to play it again, because the game is about as good as these older games get, and is probably exactly what those who played AoEII in the past will expect from it.

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Gameplay: The gameplay is pretty satisfying. You build up a small kingdom by constructing various buildings to produce different bonuses for your "empire." However, the thrill of seeing the little settlers at work eventually turns into the disappointment of having to actually fight people with a cumbersome system that rewards spamming swarms of units instead of actually having any real tactics whatsoever. If I could give the pre-battle and post-battle parts of each game two separate scores, it'd be 7.5/10 and 4/10, but as it is I'll just give the whole thing a 6/10.

Graphics/Visual Experience: It's an old game, but it's not hard to tell what's going on. When playing, I do feel "sucked in" to the game's environment. However, units have a tendency to clump up when there are enough of them (and more often than not, there is), which makes things difficult. 7.5/10

Sound: The game doesn't feel cluttered with unnecessary soundbytes or loud music. The music creates a good feeling but I personally found it grating after a while. The experience, however, is not ruined by Spotify running quietly in the background. It's a game that demands attention, so the game's natural ambiance caters to that requirement. 6.5/10

Replayability: Pretty good. Each game has the potential to play out differently from the one before. 8/10

How it Runs: It's an older game so unless you're trying to run it on a TI-83, it'll probably work.
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jobosno 2017-10-09T01:21:43Z
2017-10-09T01:21:43Z
4.5 /10
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destroy other empires
This game, and its expansion, mean quite a lot to me. It was one of the first titles i got for pc, and even if i never got too much into RTS afterwards, i cant deny that the way the game married narrative with gameplay was very addictive.

I love how the matches tend to put a focus on resource gathering and updating your civilization through the different ages, instead of simply building up the most effective army as fast as you can (like in Starcraft). Maybe this made the game a bit more casual and less stressful in comparison, which is a plus in my game. RTS tend to be insanely stressful games for me, and this one managed to find a pleasant middle ground. And hey if you are having trouble in the main campaign there is always the possibility to resort to cheat codes, which do have their charm to them. Obviously everytime i tried it online i would get decimated.

The combat gameplay is tightly balanced using a rock papers scissor system, in which could essencially be substituted for cavalry, infantry and ranged infantry. Again, this reenforces the notion of actually building a varied army and to do so you must build a complete base, again making the game slower but somewhat more rewarding at least for me.

Overal its a great RTS, though i dont think it can quite reach the best of modern standards due to some clunky pathfinding and of course the visuals are a bit dated. Still its filled with charm, and worth checking out to see if the hype is worth it.
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Threntall 2016-07-03T10:30:55Z
2016-07-03T10:30:55Z
4.0
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Catalog

Big_Village Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings 2022-08-14T23:34:38Z
2022-08-14T23:34:38Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
bleakage Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings 2022-08-11T23:14:14Z
2022-08-11T23:14:14Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Farsight Age of Empires II 2022-08-11T17:58:32Z
Windows
2022-08-11T17:58:32Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Steam
Naero Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings 2022-08-11T01:46:09Z
2022-08-11T01:46:09Z
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Slight86 Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings 2022-08-10T21:13:14Z
2022-08-10T21:13:14Z
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
20wontons Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings 2022-08-07T03:22:05Z
Windows • XNA
2022-08-07T03:22:05Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Krait43 Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings 2022-08-06T14:15:39Z
2022-08-06T14:15:39Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
abelardodeanda Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings 2022-08-04T17:18:28Z
2022-08-04T17:18:28Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
pour_la_fun_du_temps Age of Empires II 2022-08-04T13:20:49Z
Windows
2022-08-04T13:20:49Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Emrerodoplu_1997 Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings 2022-08-03T11:42:24Z
2022-08-03T11:42:24Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Magehunter Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings 2022-07-29T21:33:12Z
2022-07-29T21:33:12Z
4.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Dellsoda Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings 2022-07-28T21:44:13Z
2022-07-28T21:44:13Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  

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  • Previous comments (10) Loading...
  • Lamneth 2021-06-08 08:37:37.445813+00
    GOAT
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  • PhrostByte 2021-06-30 00:53:28.238695+00
    I suck ass at this game but it's so fun to play [2] was about to comment the exact same thing lmaoo
    reply
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  • NicockM 2021-07-06 18:53:58.87444+00
    greatest game of all time lol
    reply
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  • lowplacelikehome 2021-07-13 20:13:43.655228+00
    We will bury Joan beside the river
    reply
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  • lpf 2021-07-17 08:09:12.684301+00
    i love it but the campaigns are too hard and im not about to wreck myself playing online. Wish it had a campaign mode that was super playable like xcom or something
    reply
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  • Voyage1969 2021-09-29 01:53:22.282151+00
    i loved this game as a kid. the fact that the definitive edition exists and it's as good as it is fucking blows my mind. learning how to play decently for online matches seems like an impossible task though.
    reply
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  • Qwertchi 2021-12-31 12:51:13.033573+00
    A lot of people seem to only focus on the competitive multiplayer side of this game. It's great and all, but people seem to forget how much single player content this game has. The campaigns are very fun and also surprisingly varied in gameplay.
    reply
    • NoTTeR 2022-01-21 18:42:01.188225+00
      Agreed. I think aoe2 is the best single player rts, even better than warcraft 3, starcraft, homeworld and other strategy games memorable for their campaigns
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • Randomico 2022-03-30 11:42:32.749012+00
    wololo
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