Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition
Although the polished graphics are still with both feet in the past, the quality of Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition is certainly not dated. This is still one of the best real-time strategy games ever made.
Nevertheless, the micromanagement of your civilization occasionally remains difficult and you have to keep an eye on a lot at the same time. But when you see your city in full shape with all the busy citizens and your ever-growing army, that’s a great pleasure. This marriage between Civilization and Warcraft is still working.
Age of Empires 2 previously received an HD version and now there is a definitive edition. But is the old game-based strategy game still worthwhile for modern players?
The RTS genre was once huge. Everyone was busy designing one, which led to enormous saturation in the late 1990s. However, the Age of Empires 2 stood out among all those wannabes. This sequel showed how far you can deepen the genre. Instead of focusing on quickly building a base to spit out soldiers, you are working on building a well-functioning city and economy in AoE.
Every villager has to work to bring in resources (gold, food and building material). You have to build more houses to house more villagers, grow food and build mills. But it is also up to you to install defensive walls, churches, and other important structures.
Because of all that micromanagement, it’s easy to lose yourself in building the perfect community. A kind of Cities Skylines feeling, in which the beauty and efficiency of your settlement become a goal in itself. But don’t be lulled to sleep, because of course, you won’t win with the most beautiful city. At its core, it is still a war game in which you ultimately have to defeat the enemy, who starts his own settlement together with you.
The great thing about AoE is that the investment in your city also gives you a much stronger sense of ownership than contemporaries such as Warcraft, Starcraft or Command & Conquer.
In those games, building your base is a means of building up a strong army as quickly as possible. In AoE, it feels like you really have to protect your subjects (and your own hard work).
Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition is in the middle between a remake and a remaster. You can install an optional graphical update that also makes the game acceptable to modern eyes. Still, it takes some getting used to for the same modern eyes that the whole game is two-dimensional. Everything consists of sprites and other 2D elements, and it is not possible to rotate the map.
That also means that your units are sometimes hidden behind structures or landscape elements and you can just forget that you still have a group of unemployed villagers who are turning their thumbs. That 2D element is also somewhat frustrating during construction. If you build a wall with a gate, it is very easy to place that gate so that you can no longer see it.
Fortunately, your units see it and artificial intelligence has been considerably polished up. This means that they find logical paths through the landscape and are not easily trapped.
Also during combat, it is very easy to place different groups in their own formations in order to get the most out of them. Once you master that element, it increasingly feels like you are a classical general who makes important strategic decisions, rather than sending a large group to the enemy in hope.
Check out the video below to find out how it looks compared to the original AOE 2.
AOE 2: Definitive Edition Multiplayer
It is very clear that AoE2 is designed with the multiplayer in mind. The game itself says that the ‘skirmish’ mode is actually the main meal, where you compete against real players or the computer in random landscapes. And there is a lot of fun to be gained from that.
Fortunately, there is also an enormous amount of single-player content in the form of a large number of historical campaigns. Each mission is introduced with a short animation (with well-acted voice-overs) and also during the missions themselves, there are dramatic twists that give the battle a new twist.
The tutorial teaches you different elements of the game step-by-step by using them. So you really don’t have to struggle through pages of Wiki texts before you understand this very complex game: you learn while playing. And that’s how it should be.
Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition is therefore worthy of the name. It is a very well-stocked package that shows why this game already made such an impression in 1999. The developer could have made the game using 3D graphics but then it would have lost its nostalgic factor. It would have remedied some of the biggest irritation points, but at the same time, it would have been a completely different game.
Perhaps if this remaster does well it is clear that the world is ready for a new, complex, historical real-time strategy game. Until then, AoE2 is a wonderful return to a genre that is now almost as historic as its setting. While a pretty stable game, Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition Continues To Get Stability Upgrades During Launch Week which is great.