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Age of Empires

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First Impressions:

My brother has been bugging me for months to get AoE so we can play H2H.  When I visited him in Germany I managed to finish the entire first civilization (Greeks if I remember rightly.)  So despite the fact that Mickeysoft gets some of my money I bought a copy.  I finally bought it and got it installed last week.  We played our first H2H game from halfway across the world.  He stomped me, of course.

It's a pretty game.  The animations are nice and the buildings and terrain are nice to look at.

This game plays very similar to Warcraft 2.  IOW, multiple barracks means you can build multiple different types of units.  Unlike C&C where multiple barracks builds units faster.  The game is so like WC2 that the same keyboard shortcuts work on both.

I'm at the last mission of the second civilization.  I think it's the Romans.   I had to restart a couple of missions.  Basically, where the computer used rush tactics.  As soon as I learned which direction he was coming from I could fend off the first couple of attacks and then build at my leisure.  But, I'm completely stymied by the final mission.  I simply don't see how I have enough time to build siege weapons to take down the first wonder, and still have enough resources to fend off his roving units to have any hope of attacking the second wonder.

One seemingly minor difference that has a big effect on gameplay came up during our multiplayer game.  Walls are much easier to build and much harder to knock down in AoE.  In WC2 they're nearly worthless.  In our multiplayer game, my brother's walls really slowed me down and funnelled my attacks.

As usual, I don't know the advanced units well enough.  I kept him at bay for a long time.  Then I fell behind in my upgrades and used my advanced units poorly.

After playing Starcraft, I really miss waypoints.  And the pathfinding can get pretty bad.

High points:
The WC interface works, and Ensemble was bright enough to steal it.
The difficulty of missions has been pretty good until the final of the second civilization.
Nice eye-candy.
Setting up a multiplayer game was fairly painless.
Unlimited group size is always welcome.
Low points:
Pathfinding generally poor.
I miss the humor of WC/SC.

Overall, I'd say AoE is a success.  I just wish I had more time to practice so I could give my brother a run for his money.  On Mighty's Brother's Game Total Value Scale I rate AoE as a Threat of Heavy Sleep Loss.

Later Impressions:

Bruce and Mo watched over my shoulder while I played my brother.  Both were impressed with the look and started playing.  In the last week I've played nearly every day with them or my brother.  A multiplayer game is a lot more fun when you have multiple opponents.

I finally found how to set waypoints.  Shift-Right-Click.  That helps a bunch.  Finding it was trial-and-error.  In the manual it mentions waypoints once, but never says how to do it.  Annoying.

I'm getting use to the poor pathfinding.  Since I know it's going to happen I'm more likely to babysit my units.  With the waypoints it's not so bad.

After playing some more, I've found that walls are a serious impediment early in the game, but after siege weapon upgrades they can be knocked down very quickly.  They're very convenient early in the game because you can click&drag to build a line of wall segments and your peon will go down the line and build them all.  And nobody is allowed across the placed-but-not-built walls.  Walls have a serious weakness.  On slopes (actually steps) there are chinks in the wall that units can walk through.

After getting more experience, I've upgraded my rating on Mighty's Brother's Game Total Value Scale to Threat of Starvation.

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Last modified: January 25, 2003
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