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A Game Fit for Kings
Another age of global conflicts and epic conquests
By - Carlos "dr.angryman" Salgado (10/18/99)

Control epic battles fought between history's great nations.
Microsoft’s original Age of Empires was perhaps one of the most underrated real-time strategy games to be released during the post-Warcraft II RTS flood. Like many strong contenders in the genre, Age of Empires was subjected to criticisms that it was little more than “another Warcraft II clone”. These criticisms seemed, initially, to eclipse the many merits of Ensemble Studios’ first game. Despite these doubts, Age of Empires developed a large and loyal community, and has continued to hold its own against even the latest RTS releases.

This time around, the creators have taken the best of the original game, and added an impressive list of features and fixes. With a collection of well-designed campaigns and a variety of fun multiplayer options, The Age of Kings provides a wealth of fresh gameplay that most RTS fans should enjoy.

The next thousand years in the Age of Empires saga begins after the fall of Rome, and extends through the middle ages. As with the original game, The Age of Kings single player campaigns are based on real people, civilizations, and events. Players undertake the conquests and emprises of William Wallace, Joan of Arc, Genghis Khan, and other historical figures.

Battle Preparations

 New Features in
 Age of Empires - The Age of Kings

 - 13 New Civilizations
 - Unique military units for
    each civilization
 - Expanded economy system
 - Improved computer AI
 - Improved game interface
 - New "Regicide" game mode
 - Much, much, more...

Upon opening the box, it becomes evident that Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings is an expansive and well-conceived game. Included in the package are a thick, thorough manual and a nicely-printed reference card. The folding card provides quick-reference information (common hot-keys, unit stats, etc.) and an at-a-glance representation of each civilization's technology tree. The manual is helpful and informative - even if you've played Age of Empires, you'll benefit from reading through it.

Installing the game is fast and painless; One needs only select the destination directory and either the normal or full install option. At over 300 MB, the full installation of the game takes several minutes, providing a good opportunity to read the quick-reference card and become familiar with the game's various units and civilizations. There are 13 civilizations in all, each with distinctive strenghts and weaknesses and at least one unique military unit. Looking over these attributes, one can begin to develop an understanding of each civilization's personality and effective strategies.

One of the most thoughtful features added by Ensemble is the player-profile system. Each player can customize game options such as screen resolution, game speed, screen-scrolling speed, and hot-key bindings. These settings are stored separately for each player profile, which can be helpful if multiple people will be playing the game of the same computer. The ability to reassign hot-keys is a unique feature in the RTS genre, and could possibly give hard-core competitive players the freedom to create custom keyboard layouts that are fast and intuitive.

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