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Age of Empires II: Age of Kings

A Game Fit for a King …or an Emperor …or a President …or a Prime Minister

by Johnny Bray

Age of Empires II

If only movie sequels could be as good as computer game sequels, then we'd really have something going....

Age of Empires II: Age of Kings has everything the first game had (which is a lot!), and a whole lot more. This real time strategy sequel has more levels, more advances, more units, and even more civilizations.

You bet your sweet booty, this is easily one of the best games ever made. Kudos to Ensemble studios for this one.

Dark Beginnings...

Beginning in the Dark Age and leading all the way up to the Imperial Age, your goal as King is to conquer the world via economy, technology or, my personal favorite, military siege.

You can play as one of 13 civilizations including Franks, Japanese, Vikings, Mongols and the Britons. Each one of them has a unique unit that can add to your chances of thwarting the others.

Another great feature is the realistic campaigns. You can fight alongside Joan of Arc, Genghis Khan, Saladin, or even William Wallace (better known as Braveheart).

The graphics in this game are probably the best in any game of this type on the market (or off the market for that matter). The detail is unbelievable, and they've even got the human to building scale right.

Speaking of buildings, two of the new structures in the game are the gate (which allows your units to move in and out of the city while restricting the opponents), and the castle. The castle is what allows you to build your race's unique units.

Another new feature is the multiplayer version that lets you play against a friend or a complete stranger over the MSN Gaming Zone, LAN or modem.

Even the computer is a lot smarter in this Age of Empires, so you're in for a challenge - unless you take the wuss's way out and use the cheat codes (like me).

But I don't recommend that, because you get your fill of the game much faster.

As far as gameplay is concerned, Age II can't be beaten. The maps are bigger than ever, you have more units to command, and you can even put them in different formations.

They've added a few new upgrades just to make things interesting, too. For example, your town center now has a town bell, which you can ring to gather all your villagers so they don't get killed by the opposing civilizations.

The nicest new feature is that now, when you have a unit standing behind something, you can see an outline of him (or her). This makes it much easier to find and click on him to get him to do something else.

In Age of Empires, if a unit was behind a building, that was pretty much it for him - he was never to be seen again.

Age of Empires II: Age of Kings is one of the most enjoyable games I've ever played. Not too long ago I was getting sick of this type of "real time strategy game," but Age II revives my enjoyment, as well as raising the standards of this PC game genre.


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January 31, 2006