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Reviewed: Age of Empires II - The Conquerors
Author: Mike Zeldenrust      Date: November 27, 2000
Page: 4


 
Final Breakdown

Gameplay:

The deep, chess like strategy of AOK and The Conquerors makes this by far my favourite RTS game out at the moment.  The large number of units, all powerful but all with their own specific counter mean that the game isn't just about throwing huge armies into battle.  It's all about tactics.  The new civs are welcome additions, and the new technologies and civ tweaks restore the game to perfect balance.

Graphics:

As I mentioned in the review, I can't really think of a better looking RTS.  Sure, there's lots of good looking 3D games around right now, but in my opinion 3D is much better suited to the FPS genre than the real-time strategy battlefield.  The 2D graphics of The Conquerors are amazing.  

Sound and Music:

It's difficult to rate the sounds in an RTS.  No matter how good they sound, after a while you just block them out.  Same for the ambient sounds in the game.  The quality of the sound effects is great, and the music is better than average.  The sounds are distinctive enough that very quickly you know exactly what is happening, just by what you're hearing.

Multiplayer:

Multiplayer is the best part of The Conquerors, and the subtle tweaks and additions that the expansion pack adds restore the multiplayer battle to greatness.  There's a new way to beat your friends every game.

AI and Difficulty:

While The Conquerors claims to have improved the AI, it's tough to notice.  The AI does some things very well, such as racing up through the ages, building a thriving economy and creating huge walled cities.  For novices, the AI will provide a pretty good challenge.  As the player improves, however, beating the AI begins to get pretty easy.  As with most RTS', the AI struggles to change tactics in mid-game, and doesn't handle the rush well.

Controls and Interface:

The interface and controls of The Conquerors are unchanged from those of AOK, and are well done.  Unit groupings, formations and attack stances are all just a mouse click or single keystroke away, and the mini-map options allow you to glean various types of information about the map at a glance.  Hot-keys are logical and easy to remember.

Overall:

This is the way an expansion pack should be done.  Take a great game, fix the small issues people discover with it, and add a ton more of the same things that make the original great.  In my opinion, Age of Kings with The Conquerors expansion is the best RTS on the market right now, and has an honoured spot in my hall of fame beside Warcraft II, Starcraft, and Total Annihilation.  

Pluses (+)         
  • Tactical, Strategic combat at it's best
  • Amazingly detailed graphics and sound     
  • Fantastic multiplayer
  • Minuses (-)
  • AI fairly easy to beat
  • Expensive for an expansion pack                   
  • Cheap looking documentation
  •  

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    Added:  Monday, November 27, 2000
    Reviewer:  Mike Zeldenrust
    Score:
    Page: 4/5

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