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Reviewed: Age of Empires II - The Conquerors
Author: Mike Zeldenrust       Date: November 27, 2000
Page: 3
The Conquerors doesn't change the basic game play of Age of Kings.  There are five new single player campaigns, each tracing the story of one of the new civilizations in the game.  The new campaigns are improvements on the old, in that they're better scripted, with events often occurring in mid scenario that force you to re-evaluate your entire strategy.  They make excellent use of the new locations, units and technologies that come along with the new civilizations.  The Aztec campaign, for example, is an entirely new experience for seasoned AOK veterans, forcing you to forsake cavalry and gunpowder altogether while utilizing the powerful Aztec infantry to counter Spanish cannons and conquistadors.

The multiplayer portion of The Conquerors is where the expansion pack shines.  AOK was already a terrific multiplayer game, with quick and easy connectivity options, an excellent interface, and very deep, chess like strategy.  Players quickly learned how to take advantage of certain flaws in the gameplay, however, and it wasn't too long before most multiplayer games of AOK followed the same basic pattern.  Players became forced to play a certain way in order be competitive.  Town Centers became an offensive building, due to their extreme range and power, and certain units and civs fell by the wayside.  The Conquerors addresses these issues, tweaking those civs and units that needed it with the new techs, or making the powerful units cost a bit more.  Town Centers, for example, now cost 100 stone - which isn't much, but does make the player think twice about building them all over the map.  As a result, multiplayer battles in The Conquerors are often epic battles where any number of strategies can be successful.  One interesting feature is the ability to play back recorded games - it's almost as fun to download a recorded game between two or three masters and watch them go at it as it is to play yourself!


The Mongol raiders find an innocent looking town center to plunder... ...but find a nasty Hun surprise waiting for them. The Mongols assaulting the final Hun castle.  Victory!


The graphics in The Conquerors, and in AOK for that matter, are some of the best 2D graphics I've ever seen.  Units and buildings are large enough to make out fantastic detail, even at the highest supported resolution of 1024 x 1280.  Maps are colorful and vibrant, with constant background animation and amazing attention to detail.  Units are animated flawlessly, and also are crisp and detailed.  It's easy, at the highest resolution, to tell the difference between two infantry units of different types, which is not something that all games can boast.  The graphical additions The Conquerors bring to the game are simply outstanding.  It's hard not to gawk at the beautiful, historically accurate buildings of the new Central American races, and the jungle and winter tilesets are equally fantastic.  It's tough to imagine 2D graphics getting better than these.

Sounds are equally well done, if not quite as jaw dropping.  Civs from different parts of the world all acknowledge you in their native tongues, and the sounds of turkeys gobbling, jaguars snarling, and snow crunching underfoot all make the game come alive.  Of course, often you're far too busy fending off the enemy to appreciate such minutiae, but in the first few moments of a game the sounds of the forest or jungle really helps to drag you into the game world.


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Added:  Monday, November 27, 2000
Reviewer:  Mike Zeldenrust
Page: 3/5

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