Age of Empires Online
- Release Date: 2011
- Publisher: Robot Entertainment,Microsoft Game Studios
- Developer: Robot Entertainment,Microsoft Game Studios
- Genre: strategy
Age of Empires Online is a real-time strategy MMO originally developed by Robot Entertainment, then taken over by Gas Powered Games, and published by Microsoft. Two civilizations, namely the Greeks and the Egyptians, are accessible and playable. Grounded on the two rich civilizations with long history, players can follow certain designs to build their own nations which generate great thinkers and renowned philosophers and at the same time cast political and military influence on the world.
Being a fan of Age of Empires, I am not cheerful but rather chilled when I first heard of this game: Age of Empires Online. The word “online” infuses me with an irrational fear: another insipid imitation of the original, a smear on the absolute blockbuster, and a copycat for the big, dumb Facebook market.
And I am not alone in brewing such repulsive emotions. The announcement of Age of Empires Online, as a real-time strategy MMO, is not received with much enthusiasm. Rather, it works the other way around. Even before the game is released with enough particulars, it becomes a target of criticism: graphics feature colorful landscapes and cartoonish characters, which is a little too childish to go with serious, solemn theme; download and installment are compulsory since it is neither browser-based nor linked to any social networks; and it claims to be free-to-play, yet paid content in the form of premium civilization(so as to get needy items or unlock additional quests) plays a so important role in immersive gameplay that cannot be simply ignored.
Why not leave aside the question whether these criticism do justice to the game for the moment? Perhaps answers will emerge by themselves as we delve deeper into it. So first of all, I’d like to add a few more words on the game itself. Age of Empires Online allocates to you a capital, which serves as a central hub or lobby. There you build and upgrade structures, conduct technology researches, buy new skills and items, and forge military units for further strategic maneuver. All these combine to influence the quests.
The first ten quests proceed very slowly, clearly aimed at casual or novice players. And only after the time-consuming introductory missions can you begin to get in touch with the real play, which may incur one problem: many players, especially veterans, will have already dropped out at that time.
Once these tasks are left behind, your capital (and avatar too) will be leveled on Five, the lowest stage to usher you into the real gameplay. Afterwards, you’ll unlock new buildings, receive harder quests from NPCs, add more cities to visit and indulge in diversified activities as you progress. Let’s cite Level Six for example. From then on, 1v1 or 2v2 matches are open to you, competing against other players to win rewards; and civilization can be built extensively at greater rate. And pretty soon you’ll find the importance of having the big picture in mind: you really need to make a strong navy at the cost of a large amount of hard-earned points, but at the same time you cannot afford to cut down on the investment in your villagers who are indispensible suppliers of all necessary resources.
The further you delve into, the greater depth you find. It’s a sort-of formula design for players to get rewards via questing. While easy quests at low levels may only win small amounts of experience points and other ordinary rewards, challenging tasks, say, clearing a high-level dungeon, will surely bring about more and rarer items. And these items can grant both buildings and units with hefty bonuses, such as +20% hit points and damage and activation of an advisor giving you permanent boost in quests.
On top of these objects and advisors there are also occasional recipes for you. Only if you have the required resources, the special recipes can be used to obtain surprising benefits. To be specific, it is quite possible to get a gold rock conjured up out of nothing on the ground or forge various units into a faster and stronger army in no time. In short, the collection of these items proves important for later quests and even more important in the PvP area. Nevertheless, it does not take long before I find that everyone seems to use the same items all the time. So in the end, whoever has those items doesn’t have edging advantages and whoever doesn’t own them will be whipped badly.
All of these items fall into four categories with increasing values from Common, Uncommon, Rare finally to Epic. Here money begins to talk again, for non-paying players have no access to Rare and Epic items. Playing for free, you can engage in all the quests, access to a significant proportion of articles, play with and against others in multiplayer mode, and even level up to the highest 40. So the free version of Age of Empires Online is reasonably rich enough to explore and you would not miss too much without the premium civilization. Yet to enjoy the game to the largest possible extent, you do crave for the best technology and advanced equipment for your troops. Simply put, to unlock all those by purchasing a premium civilization, you will have to cough up about € 20.
Paying to play is certainly not a first-choice, yet it is still a comfort to know your money goes for something worthy. At least, in Age of Empires Online you pay to get a complete game, a completely unique civilization with its own graphics, storyline, quests and so on. Such uniqueness is not so obvious in questing as in PvP, during which you would gradually sense that Egyptian units are faster and cheaper while the Greeks are sometimes relatively stronger.
Meanwhile, there are other money-eating designs that turn out less worthwhile, such as the so-called booster packs offering new storyline, or the package including a few new decorative objects for the garden of your capital. Pay money for shrubs? Surely you have something better to do with your money.
Finally, still some downsides to this otherwise surprisingly good and entertaining MMO. There were serious mistakes here and there in the game that hopefully solved now that the full version is available. So I had a particular mission, six warriors down to size, but the game just stopped counting so I could not win even though the enemy completely and literally from the map wiped off – this is up to three times until cases same quest. Even small parts of my armies were occasionally caught in forests or mountains, leaving nothing but collective suicide on Sat for the poor bastards.
The AI is not always rational. The AI villagers rather late (unsuccessfully) attack your troops, instead of just withdraw to its Town Center. It also happened in a particular mission that I had ‘weak AI ally protect its ally but our common enemy to the ground was, despite its massive military and technological backwardness. These defects were rarely happy to notice and I caught myself soon that Age of Empires Online as comfortable – or even better! – Played the first two titles in the series. It’s just a modern and slightly alternative look.
All in all, I am pleasantly surprised by Age of Empires Online. If you ignore the shameless marketing of the game, which is perfectly possible to skip it and enjoy the game, this title is by no means a disappointment to fans. Even its graphics, initially impressive as another Zynga works, turn nicely acceptable to eyes soon (anyway, who says in-depth gameplay must take on a serious looks). And more importantly, its core play in terms of real-time strategy, richly diversified items and boost-ups and in-depth quests, etc makes it a success.
Though interested in history, one may find the curiosity for knowledge falls easy prey to the boredom of textbooks, which will first waver one’s will and in the end extinguish one’s enthusiasm of pursuit. Now one does not have to choose to be ignorant or to suffer to drink in knowledge. Please delve into Age of Empires Online and one could learn ancient civilizations from the vivid graphics and interesting stories.
As in similar games featured empire building, players will start from small bases, on which they collect resource, build civil and military buildings, increase political, economical, diplomatic and military powers, and explore overseas to colonize. In the game, there are common buildings of House, Barrack, Storehouse and Guard tower, and general units of Scout, Villager, Priest and Military ones. In the capital city, they can build one or more craft halls such as Hunting Lodge, Builder’s Hall, Cavalry Hall, Craftsman’s Hall, Military College, Grand Temple and Engineering College, which will serve different purposes. Players as commanders can decide the priority, quantity and timings of both civil and military affairs. Besides the traditional tasks, this game is also characterized by cooperative quests of multi-players. Surrounded by great powers, one single nation can only survive and thrive through alliance. Tougher quests will be finished faster and more spoils will be gained. Therefore, standing together with friends against foes is the key to triumph.
In Age of Empires Online, all the abilities have traces of historical settings; and these traces vary honestly with specific civilizations. For instance, in Greek civilization, players can have advisors including Professor Socrates and Hetairoi Commander Jason; while in Egyptian world, players will have Hatshepsut who is the eighteenth Queen of Egypt. With more contents added into it, this living textbook about ancient civilizations will be richer in content and more immersive in entertainment.
Go to offcial website http://www.ageofempiresonline.com/
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