Age of Empires II: The Conquerors Review

21 Apr 2008  by   Paul Younger
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Age of Empires II was a smash hit, capturing the hearts of RTS gamers everywhere, so to keep the game alive, Ensemble Studios have released this expansion pack entitled Age of Empires 2: The Conquerors offering a whole load of new Age of Empire goodies.Although The Conquerors is called an expansion pack, there are a few changes to the original game included, not only do you get 5 new races to play about with, there are also subtle enhancements to the civilizations and gameplay from it’s predecessor Age of Kings.The game comes with 5 new civilizations, the Spanish, Koreans, Huns, Mayans and Aztecs and as you would expect each with it’s own unique ‘special’ units. As this is an expansion, the fundamentals of the game are exactly the same as Age of Empires 2, no real major changes to control or commands have been added so everything will be very familiar to fans of the original. Included are some excellent handy tips at the start of campaigns and I’ll admit my Age of Empire skills were rusty to say the least so these came in very handy.

The inclusion of the tips and mission hints are great and should ease gamers who have been away from the game for a while right back into the action.The new civilizations also come with new technology which has to be researched, some useful, some not so useful, but that really depends on your playing style. The single player campaigns include Montezuma, El Cid and Atilla the Hun, each giving you the chance to try out the new races and conquer neighboring civilizations and expand your empire.

Historical background on each new civilization is also provided from the main menu, all well written and illustrated to help pull you into the game.The campaigns are well thought out with some interesting mission objectives and historical scenarios that drive the missions along with the use of short scripted sequences. The gameplay is the same as previous AOE games, beware of the enemy at all times, especially in campaigns, they have a tendency to strike when you are low on resources or military equipment.

Just when you think you have the upper hand, out of nowhere pops another faction to kick you where it hurts. This expansion also comes with some new game types including King of the hill, Wonder Race and Defend the wonder. Defend the Wonder is a very cool new addition where one player starts with a Wonder and must defend it at all costs against the other players in the game, no doubt this will prove very popular online.Ensemble have also taken a look at some aspects of Age of Kings and refined them in this expansion, the most obvious is the resource and villager management, the villagers are now a lot more intelligent and need to be ‘hand fed’ a lot less, giving more time to focus on the strategy and action. For example villagers will now automatically start resource collecting once all the essential buildings like the Lumber Camp, Town centre, Mill and Mining Camp have been placed. Farming has also been improved with automatic farm replanting by ‘queuing planting’ at the Mill. This means farms don’t have to be rebuilt using up villager time building, they simply get replanted by villagers at the same cost of buying a new farm. Friend or Foe colourings have also been included to make identifying your enemies a lot easier by simplifying the unit colouring on screen (this is optional) and the chat interface has been improved giving more options for messaging other players in the game. There are also changes to the original civilizations from Age of Kings, these include changes to the cost of certain units, unit speeds and unit abilities. A word of warning to Age of Kings players, make sure you read the manual and check the changes to make sure you know what’s been tinkered with

.With the gameplay enhancements, which we really do think make the game a more enjoyable playing experience, the five new civilizations and new challenging campaigns, there’s enough in this package to keep multiplayer and single player gamers happy for quite some time. Overall Age of Empires II: The Conquerors is a worthy addition the AOE series, no doubt an essential purchase for AOE fans and keep the game alive for quite some time to come.

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