As far as real-time strategy games go, I spent countless hours playing the original Age of Empires when it came out God knows how many years ago (Mr Google tells me it was 20 years ago!). It was one of the first RTS games I played when I first got a PC, along with Westwood’s Red Alert.
Fast forward to 2018, and Microsoft Studios have released an Age of Empires for a new age of gamer (or those older gamers who hark back to their youth) but is it the Definitive Edition? I’m not so sure: Sure, it captures the magic of the original game but it doesn’t do anything revolutionary to the genre.
For those that aren’t familiar with Age of Empires, players start the game with a civilisation and have to grow it, researching new things and conquering other civilisations as you move through the ages. As with most RTS games of this ilk, there’s a lot of micro-management: Making sure you have enough resources to build new structures, enough food to feed the troops and enough soldiers and weapons to defend your clan from invading factions.
Campaigns in Definitive Edition include Egyptian, Roman, Japanese and Babylonian factions but fundamentally, they’re all the same basic idea with the same end goal: Grow your civilisation.
While the graphics and audio are crisper than the original (the game really does look great, boasting 4K visuals and much improved audio), sadly, some of the game’s wonky AI path finding has managed to sneak into the new game: I lost count how many times a villager just stood around waiting for the next command rather than continue the task he had been allocated until I asked him to stop.
One thing that might hamper the game is that it’s only available for Windows 10 on Microsoft’s store (so no Steam), something that might limit its market.
Age of Empires Definitive Edition will appeal to gamers who want to re-play the original on modern hardware but for RTS fans wanting something to really get their teeth into, they might need to look elsewhere.