Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings review
Age of Empires: The Age of Kings

The good:

Challenging game play in campaign mode, different odjectives for most maps in campaign mode, ability to play multi-player using one game and one D.S. system.

The bad:

No naval units, no "create a map" mode, units from certain civilizations look very similar to other civilizations, touch screen can get too crowded with units.


Graphics: It is not a bad effort here. The 3D fields are nice along with the units and building. Terrain details are fairly simply though as are the backgrounds for the battle animations. There are a few times when the battle animations will be a little slow. Frank and Briton units look the same, and Mongol and Sarcen units look the same. Finally, the touch screen becomes too crowded at times with units making it hard to see what exactly is happening. (2.8/5.0)

Game Play: Controls are easy to use and learn whether one uses the control pad and buttons or uses the touch pad with stylus. There are two modes available: single and multi-player. The single mode feature campaign and empire map modes. The campaign mode follows five "Heroes" and his or her civilization. The game does a decent job keeping the main objectives different. It would be very easy to fall into the destroy everything objective trap. Campaigns also provide good strategy situations for players to solve. The Empire Map mode allows one to challenge the A.I. on a number of maps. One can choose how victory is achieved (conquest, wonder, x about of days), what age each player starts as, how much of the map is see with blackout and fog of war, and the aggressiveness and difficulty of the A.I. (Attila, Ave, and Turtle aggressiveness with easy, medium, and hard difficulty). One is able to choose up to 3 A.I. opponents. Multi-player mode allows one to challenge friends with the wireless link or using the hot seat option. The hot seat allows multiply human players to play using one D.S. system and one game. I like the addition of this feature. One could also make the players A.I opponents. Set up is the same as the Empire Map mode. User Profile allows one to check his or her progress. Bonus Items allows one to purchase units and maps with the empire points one earned in the campaign and empire map modes. I also like the fact that each civilization has certain units and building that are cheaper than others while other buildings and units are more expensive. It plays a role on what units are trained, and what is researched. For example, if one were the Frank civilization, then one would want to research upgrades for Knight units since that is a discounted unit for Franks. The "Heroes" had his or her unique strategy to the mix with "Hero" powers. "Hero" powers mostly affect other unit's stats such as attack, defense, movement, firing range, and health. Sometimes they affect research and training costs, or they can affect one's income of food or gold. What I don't like is the lack of naval units in this game. Now when I say naval units, I do not just mean ships of war. There are no fishing or trading vessels along with the ships of war. These are key units in the computer version. Fishing and trading played a big part in several economies during the Middle Ages so it is disappointing to see these where not included. I am also disappointed in the lack of the ability to create one's own maps like one can in the Advance Wars series. Finally the big question: real time combat versus turn based combat. Personally, it does not make a difference to me. I am very familiar with turned based combat with the Advance Wars and Fire Emblem series, but I will not fault a game for being a real time combat game or vise versa. Nor will I fault a company for changing one combat to the other for a certain game. For example, I may have had a hard time adjusting to the real time combat of Battalion Wars, while being familiar with the turn based play of Advance Wars, but I will not blame the game makers for my short coming. Therefore, any serious strategy gamer should be able to adjust accordingly to the combat style given in the game. By the way, I have played some of the original computer version, and it still does not make a difference. (3.6/5.0)

Plot: As mentioned before, the campaign mode follows five "Heroes" and his or her civilization. There are no plot twists here because of the simple fact that these "Heroes" and civilizations are based on historical fact. Therefore, one can actually learn something about medieval life and warfare. Additional information can be found in the library option of the game. While the specifics of each mission may be fictionalized, some are based on actual battles or events in the "Hero's" life. If one found history class boring, then one will not pay attention much to the plot of each "Hero" and civilization. (4.5/5.0)

Sound/Music: There is nothing impressive here. Sounds mostly consist of combat sounds such as people dying, the clashing of swords, and trumpets sounding. Music is also very simple. Each civilization has its own theme music. While these do not sound terrible, they do not impress either. Finally the title screen has its own music, which is short and repeated frequently. The few changes in the music make it boring so often I will play with no sound. This appears to be a half-hearted effort. (3.3/5.0)

Replay Ability: Once one defeats the campaign mode, there are only the empire maps and multi-player modes. One can purchase units with his or her empire points to have more units to use, or one could try for a better score on certain missions. Otherwise, there is no much else to do here. (2.0/5.0)

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