…was basically the sound of the day today as the Academy got doused with quite a bout of rain in today’s thunderstorm. A few lightning bolts came a little too close for comfort but I made it through alive and the power didn’t even go out!
…Which is good, because I wanted to do some gaming today.
Some background: Rose has been bothering me about Age of Empires since, let’s see… forever. I finally got around to installing Parallels Desktop to run Windows 7 on my little Macbook Pro, and had picked up the game with a Humble Bundle a week ago. So today we played some Age of Empires II! I’ve never actually played the game before, so Rose showed me a bit.
Age of Empires II
AoE II is comparable to a lot of the Civilization games (at least closely enough that I can use Civ IV as a basis with which to compare AoE II). However it differs heavily in the management – Civ games tend to play with very broad oversight, while AoE plays more like Planetary Annihilation in that there is less automation, more micromanagement, and overall more units (in Civ 5, military units don’t stack so moving armies around is a pain in the ass – this isn’t the same in Civ IV or AoE II, in which groups are very easy to move and the experience is overall much less annoying).
Of course, AoE is also real-time rather than turn-based. This makes it a LOT like Planetary Annihilation rather than the Civ games (although, fortunately, AoE has a pause button…) and very open.
Options in AoE II are relatively limited in a standard game. There are four ages, and they’re relatively basic – you build a handful of buildings in each, you move on to the next. It’s not exactly the glorious technology tree of Civilization V… it’s more like the age advancements in the flash game Age of War. I will try AoE III and see if they improve the flexibility of gameplay but so far the small breadth of units/upgrades/buildings is really what’s hurting my experience with the game.
The graphics in AoE aren’t bad, to be honest, but they’re closer to Civ IV than Civ V – it’s not too hard to figure out what everything is, but it doesn’t exactly look lifelike. (As far as graphics/visuals go, the coolest I’ve seen lately is the collection on Planetary Annihilation – I’ll do a full review on that at some point!)
Overall: this is a fairly old game, a little dated in complexity and graphics, but still incredibly entertaining. Games do tend to go fairly long so there’s a certain level of non-linearity inherent in that – it’s not as simple as gaining an early lead and maintaining it through the whole game (which is an element that sometimes comes up in Planetary Annihilation and Civilization). Age of Empires II gives you a lot of room to press advantages but also to be surprised by vicious counterattacks – it’s unpredictable and very, very fun.
Stay tuned for more GAMES posts, and a new (sort of!) writer on DRR who has promised to submit a post by tomorrow!
As always, thanks for reading.