Age of Empires (Online)
Build an empire and conquer the world, or at least your tiny plot you like to call your world. This is Age of Empires and it is now online. It is not quite the massive multiplayer everyone hopes it would be, but it is online [sort of ]. You setup a capital city and build it up and challenge other players online to see who is the best at this sim game. Age of Empires is an old franchise in the RTS world. Newer games have tried to steal AoE’s thunder, but they are still going strong. Real time strategy and age of empires go hand in hand. However, this is not the AoE you’ve come to know and love. This is Age of Empires meets … Bambi?
|Age of Empires Meets Bambi|
I really wanted to like this game, but… in all fairness, something outside of the game makes the game unplayable. That something is Windows Live. Yes Microsoft has RUINED a perfectly good game. You know, it is rare for me to like something. It is rare for me to find something that isn’t tarnished and or thrown together and hope people just waste their money on it. I feel it is my duty to tell you every dirty detail about something, in the hopes you’ll do the right thing and save your money. Had you listend to me, by now, and not purchased any of the games I have reviewed, or movies too, you would have saved over $1,000.00. That’s a pretty big hunk of pocket change eh? At $60.00 for a game and $10.00 for a movie, that’s quite a bit of not being entertained rigth? No, how about having a series of nice evening with someone you love. That’s priceless, in my book. Getting to know your kids. Now that’s free.
ANYWAY, on to the review.
Any game that I have played that REQUIRED Windows Live, I have immediately uninstalled and thrown away. If not, I have disabled my internet and played the game single player without any Windows Live gamer point updates. Microsoft just has a horrible system. Mind you AoE is still testing, but I don’t think Microsoft is going to suddenly NOT support the game and or let them distance themselves from them. The game is connected through Windows Live and the connection is constantly lost. In fact, calling my local cable provider I get a nice message saying, “XBOX Live is down nationwide and we have no idea when it will be back up, it is not an issue with our company.” That message was on 3 days ago.
If you think I am being harsh, let’s compare other games. Oh, I don’t know, let’s pick another ONLINE game, like World of Warcraft. I have never had issues with that game. They may break stuff when they patch the game, but it’s fixed within hours. Since, I am a programmer myself, I cannot imagine how they break something and then fix it within hours. They must have about a thousand tiny mice going over the code to find the problems. Heck I made a website once and forgot a semicolon. I took all day finding that line of code.
Final Score: 0 [if the game can’t be played, who cares how it looks or plays]
Learning Curve: 9/10
Other: Connection – 0
Look – the graphics are a cross between settlers and warcraft. They are very very VERY cute. With the probable 99.999% of the players being male, I can only guess the graphics were made to be cute to attract 6 year old girls to the game. That being said, world of warcraft, at full graphic settings blows this game away. It is beyond me why developers keep going backwards in graphics instead of forward. You can have the cartoony graphics, like world of warcraft, without it looking like something my dead kid brother could have drawn. The graphics look like dragon quest, the old arcade game. They are not terrible, they are just … not good. And, I don’t understand the cuteness of it all. They have bright colors, like a kindergarten playroom. And the trees and people all sort of sway in the wind. And, the deer bounce around like it is a Disney movie. There is tremendous violence in the game, yet everything is very cute. This is not something kids should be playing, because of the violence, but then, why is it so cute? It makes no sense. The latest age of empires was looking quite realistic. Imagine my surprise at seeing AoE meets Bambi.
I gave it an 8/10 because, maybe I just don’t get it, but if you like cute graphics, these are definitely cute. It’s like someone forcing you to watch the moon. You might not be into the moon, but you can understand that they like the moon. If you’re a grown man, over the age of 16, you probably will not like the graphics. If you’re a 6 year old girl, you’ve looooooove the graphics.
|So Cute and Cuddley|
Gameplay – nothing to right home about. Everything in the game is left click, right click. Everything has an internal timer, i.e. ships launching ballista go as fast as their internal clock says. The actual mechanics of the game are simple. Learning what things do and how they are applied is an entirely different ball of wax.
I gave it a 6/10 because they are not doing anything new. There is absolutely no pushing of the envelope by mouseclicking. I mean, it’s on a computer.
Learning Curve – This is set high, is not a good thing. While the instructions seem simple in the game, the application of things doesn’t start clicking until you’re nearly finished with the game. I watched one guy play and when he saw someone else’s city they had an epiphany that he was doing it all wrong. What’s sad is, there is no way around the steep learning curve. Nothing hints at what is to be done. The mechanics are explained to you perfectly, just not the how to and why.
I gave this a 9/10 and this really should not be a part of the grading because it is apples and oranges.
Story – you acheive progress with your home city, which noone can attack, via doing quests, which really are a tutorial to the game. The quest givers are found in your own city. As you do the quests you gain experience, which helps you go up levels and go up in historical ages. There is really nothing more to the story than that. You may challenge another player, but everything takes place in instance runs. Your home city is basically only seen by you, or can be viewed by someone else, but that’s about it. They cannot send troops there. There is no massive map of the world. And, should you want to challenge another player, you would simply type in their name and invite them, and the two of you are taken to an instance where you can build a little colony and challenge each other.
I gave this a 5/10 simply because while there is, technically, a story, it is nothing you would even care to mention.
Sound – The background music, the ambiance, the voice overs are all really nice in the game. They add to the immersion into the game. The citizens speak in Greek [I assume] and it adds a nice touch to it. The background music is not annoying, nor is it repetitive. It is constantly changing and it goes with whatever is on screen. Fights are accompanied by fight music, etc.
I gave this an 8/10 because the sounds really add another level of depth to the game. It is unfortunate that other aspects take away form the depth of it.
Other: Connection – As mention above