It’s been a little over 20 years since the release of the original Age of Empires. While real time strategy games have evolved over the years, the original AOE still holds a soft spot in many gamer’s hearts. Microsoft Game Studios have realized this and just recently decided to bring the iconic franchise back in the form of AOE: Definitive Edition. AOE: Definitive edition aims to bring the game back to life with access to the original story and competitive multiplayer with improved visuals, remastered sound and music. The game also features a smooth UI experience rebuilt from the ground up. These improvements include 4K textures and unit designs, as well as an increased population limit.
Age of Empires has been one of those titles to define an era, marking itself as one of the most influential Real Time Stratergy games of all time. From its use of ancient civilisations, epic battle scenes and an engaging historic single player campaign to its multiplayer experience that is still loved by many a fan today, the franchise has been no stranger to success over the years. This success lead to multiple sequels as well as expansion packs being released decades after the original game launched. Born out of the success of the High Definition version of Age of Empires II, Microsoft saw plenty reason to resurrect the first title and promised to make it relevant again. While many sequels, refreshes and remasters lose the elements of the source material that captivated its audience, Microsoft succeeded in recreating Age of Empires to an almost exact degree of authenticity.
While anyone would logically think that this would lead to something special, it’s exactly the reason that AOE: Definitive Edition falls flat on its face, and struggles to make itself relevant in today‘s age. In a gaming market filled with fast pace multiplayer action games, and high skill based RTS’, Age of Empires lacks the features and improvements that gaming has made over the past few decades. No matter how much of a facelift is applied, the issue remains that it’s a dated game, paling in comparison to the titles we expect today. While the nostalgia levels are higher than saying “Wololo” to your friends and laughing about it, the fact remains that when you go back to something from your past, it’s never as good as you remember it. Path finding may have improved in this release, but the Artificial Intelligence system created so many years ago struggles to adapt to different playstyles, and sometimes makes for idiotic decisions, like creating a fleet of ships in an area where they can’t navigate past each other for example.
While I for one, was excited about this release I see almost no reason for it to exist. The current generation of gamers will see no level of entertainment in a slow paced, aged RTS, and those who want to enjoy replaying a title from days gone will be disappointed by just how much the gameplay has shown it’s age. There’s no reason to beat a dead dog, so all I can say to a franchise I have loved for years, is goodbye my old friend. The Age of Empires is over.
AN ICONIC GAME REVIVED, BUT STILL FLAWED AND AGED
While the definitive edition of Age of Empires brings visual improvements to one of the greatest games of all times, it doesn’t change enough to make the game relevant to today’s audience