The Mancunion

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Retro Corner: Age of Empires 2: Age of Kings

Jack Crutcher looks back at the breakthrough RTS Age of Kings


Age of Empires was already an established real-time strategy game in 1999 when the second instalment in the long running series was released. Age of Kings was positively received by critics and is now recognised as a major breakthrough for the strategy genre.

In Age of Kings the player takes control of one of thirteen civilisations, including the Mongols, the Franks and the Vikings! Custom mode offers the gamer a choice of which age to start in, allowing beginners to start playing during an advanced age, while letting more experienced gamers start in the dark ages; the earlier the age the harder the challenge. Along with an impressive choice of civilisations the game offers a clear visual improvement on other real-time strategy games released at the time. Every civilisation has its own unique look and distinct units, allowing gamers to distinguish between their own team and the enemy through more than just what colour armour people are wearing.

A few detailed features were added to the game for the first time. Gamers could forge alliances and trade deals with other teams (up to 4 teams could compete on one map) and pool resources before attacking a stronger enemy with a more powerful combined force (any strategists’ idea of heaven). The game also takes on a maritime flavour, with island maps requiring the player to construct navies and engage in sea battles as well as land invasions.

Age of Kings provides an enjoyable campaign, facilitating a gentle progression in difficulty so players have time to hone their strategic skills. Online play is also on offer allowing friends to play online and create game-based communities. Age of kings is innovative, looks great and most importantly of all loads of fun – a must play and if you haven’t you’re only 13 years late!


  • Christer Ståbis

    Believe it or not but I still play this game, since the very start ! Almost every day ! I never get tired of it and I like the beautiful nature and the fact that the age, weapon and so on, are easily understandble. I know what a bow, sword and pike are. I don’t have to read pages of instruction to understand a fantasy weapon. The game play are very good also. In the sequel to it, Age of Mythology, you also got beautiful scenes (exept for Hades, in some way, but it is interesting) but there are more type of “fantasy weapons” and the pace of the game are way too fast for my taste ! I just push the updates button and then they are finished and I don’t even know what half of them do… I think Age of Kings are more balanced. I could also make own scenarios in Age of Kings, easily. AoM is MUCH harder to manage own scenarios, due to the fact that it is in 3D. I stick to AoK. It is a really good game and I don’t want to take a lot of time to learn new games all the time.

    For me AoE and AoK (Age of Empires I and II) have a special place in my heart. I started with AoE, the demo and played it until I could every corner of the scenarios. Then I bought the original game, played it thoroughly, bought the expansion, played it… and so on. I continued with AoK in the same way. You could say I got the absolute most of those to games, from the demos to the expansions. It’s funny for I still have a special feeling for the second scenario in the demo of AoE (“Opening Moves”)… ; )

    Well, I guess I could go on for ever. If you don’t have tried it and prefer good game play over “extreme” graphic in 3D with individual faces of every player like games of today, then have it a go. You will not be disapointed. : )