developer: Ensemble Studios
publisher: Xbox Game Studios / Microsoft Studios
Game mode: single / multiplayer
Multiplayer mode: local network / Internet, players: 1 - 8
Age of Empires II: The Age of the Kings for PC and PS2 is the continuation of the Age of Empires series – one of the most acclaimed series in the RTS genre, which was first released in 1996, as a product of the cooperation between Ensemble Studios and Microsoft. Similarly to the original game, The Age of the Kings was created mainly for PC players, but the game also received a PS2 version two years after its debut.
The general gameplay formula used in Age of Empires II: The Age of the Kings does not differ significantly from the mechanics of the first game. The player becomes a leader of one of the available civilizations. Their goal is to achieve global dominance throughout four subsequent epochs, namely the dark age, the feudal age, the castle age, and the imperial age. In order to succeed, the player has to gather resources, such as food, stone, wood or gold, as well as to develop their settlement gradually – this is done through constructing new buildings and unlocking access to the latest technological advancements. However, The Age of the Kings also requires players to fight – players not only have to defend their property, but also attack their neighbors in order to obtain new lands.
Age of Empires II: The Age of the Kings for PC and PS2 offers 13 nations divided into four cultural circles, including the Western European (Britons, Celts and Franks), Eastern European (Goths, Teutons and Vikings), Middle Eastern (Saracens, Turks and Byzantines), as well as the Eastern Asian (Japanese, Chinese and Mongols). Although particular circles have buildings identical in their appearances and similar units, each of the in-game civilizations is described by its own strong and weak points, as well as different technologies and unique wonders of the world – based on real-existing structures. In order to advance to the next epoch of development, the player has to meet specified requirements. The imperial age is the last epoch – during this period, the player can focus on constructing wonders of the world. Once they are built, a countdown starts and the owner of the wonder achieves victory if they manage to defend the pinnacle of their civilization until the time runs out.
The single player modes offer a training campaign (where we control William Wallace, a Scottish national hero), as well as four campaigns (Joan of Arc, Frederick Barbarossa, Genghis Khan and Saladin) – each of the campaigns consists of 6 missions. Apart from that, the player can launch a quick skirmish against the AI, including the option to play on the maps created in the in-game editor, or deciding on random gameplay parameters. Also, the PC version offers a full-fledged multiplayer mode. Up to 8 players can compete against one another, connected either via the Internet or Local Area Network.
Age of Empires II: The Age of the Kings for PC and PS2 runs on an improved version of the engine that was employed in the first installment of the series. Compared to the original game, The Age of the Kings brings slightly more detailed units and noticeably improved AI – the latter aspect was one of the largest shortcomings of the first game in the franshise. Most of the remaining elements of the PC version were based on the proven formulas of the original game.
PC / Windows
Recommended: Pentium 233MHz, 32MB RAM
Sony PlayStation 2
Uses: memory card 8 MB