Nostalgia is such an amazing thing. We remember the past memories and wish we could relive it, and when we are faced with such circumstances that are linked to those memories, happiness ensues. That is, of course, depending on how those memories affected us.
The Age of Empires series is very close to my heart. I’m not going to say how much impact it had on my childhood because that’d probably bore you, but if you’re interested in it, my Age of Empires III retrospective delves into that a bit.
Steam has been seeing a bit of renaissance lately and when Age of Empires 2 HD was announced for it–much to everyone’s surprise–those repressed memories became so lively.
Did this need an HD reboot? For AoE fans, the answer would have been an unanimous yes. However, the game is priced at $20, and considering this was a game that was released a decade ago, it is a bit on the higher side. So they need to justify it with additional features, right?
The original game was released at a time when PC gaming was at its best. This series defined the entire strategy genre and presented players with a rich and fulfilling gameplay. In fact, you will find tons of people who will say that they grew up with the series.
Age of Empires 2 is also regarded as the best AoE game by many mainly due to the sheer amount of content it had and a fantastic campaign, which teaches you a lot of history. The studio that made these games has unfortunately been closed by Microsoft, but the last game they shipped–Age of Empires 3–was personally one of my favourite games.
It’s hard to imagine that there won’t be more AoE games in the future, but revisiting AoE 2 in high definition does bring a bit of joy. It would have been nice if the game actually had additional content to complement the release, but the main campaign does stand out due to the nostalgia factor.
Seeing Joan of Arc, in her majestic Paladin, just makes me happy that I played this game when it came out, since it influenced me so much and made me love the genre as well. The remaster contains the expansion as well, and that’s a good thing, really. The remaster does not really have a lot of extra content as mentioned above but the population cap has been increased, since it was absurdly easy to hit the limit earlier.
The visuals, while in HD, don’t really seem all that different. I mean, I guess after having been exposed to so many great current gen games, playing something so old yet so fresh, tends to stick out a bit more. The game works perfectly on Windows 8, and all you have to do is boot the game from Steam. It has Steam Achievements as well along with a bunch of other things such as dual monitor support.
The core gameplay part will be familiar to RTS players. You have to collect resources and engage in a game of rock, paper, scissors, and counter enemy units properly and exploit their weakness. There’s also a great emphasis on micro-management, as that’s what sets a skilled player apart from an average one.
This is also the game that has the British Longbowmen–one of the best units in any video game ever. Of course, that’s purely my opinion but raining a bunch of arrows on your enemies is a satisfying thing. Beware of the Paladins though, they will make short work of them, and thus the rivalry between the British and the French becomes really memorable.
There are 14 civilizations for you to choose from, and you can select any of them and play a Random Map or Regicide mode. You can, for example, even do all the things you did in the original games like spawn that insanely cool car that destroys armies, or resources. This version has largely been untouched and the only thing that makes it stand out is the crispier visuals and some minor settings.
The major disappointment of this version is the fact that the multiplayer seems really broken at this stage spawning errors and generally lag that you probably may have seen during the zone.com days. This is something that really ruins the whole experience because multiplayer is the thing that will keep the game alive for many months.
This needs to be patched ASAP because at this stage, it’s something that really drags down the entire value of the game because $20 isn’t a small amount for a game that was released ages ago. No pun intended.
It’s still something you should probably buy if you want to revisit the wonderful campaign in HD. The nostalgic value is immense and if you are an AoE fan, this is a no brainer. However, people who haven’t played the previous games will probably get frustrated with the multiplayer but still the game is recommended because it’s something I believe every gamer should play.
This game was reviewed on the PC.