So I had the change to start playing the Age of Empires: Definitive Edition closed beta and I must say, I remember why I liked the game so much. The closed beta is Multiplayer only and you have to play against at least one real player – no cheesing out on easy CPU controlled teams right now. The game scales to your screen, I couldn’t find any options for resolution changes, but once in game it natively switched to my 21:9 setup. There was some choppiness here and there, and a bit of lag, but nothing was unplayable. For the most part, the game looks beautiful and runs very well. As I started the game, sending one peasant to a bush and another to a tree to start my gathering I was taken back to the days when AoE and AoM were new and exciting.
I need to state this first; the game is still fun and if are a fan of Age of Empires you will still enjoy this. I was able to set up a “secret town”, harass my three opponents, build up a sizable army and wall in my city – just as I remembered. Then something happened. May 20th, 2003 started to creep back into my memories of playing RTS games. At the time I was an employee of a retail chain, working with my boss, when a game called Rise of Nations arrived on a shipment. The two of us spent some time looking at the box art and reading the ad copy on the back, trying to decide if this was a game we should pick up. If memory serves, only a few copies came in and with both of us being RTS fans, we figured we should decide quick.
This also ages me a bit here. We couldn’t just pull up a YouTube video of the game (YouTube wouldn’t launch for another two years) and most sites were not giving the game a ton of coverage. Besides, what was I going to do, read a website on my Razer phone? Ultimately, we pulled the trigger and started a love affair with what I consider the greatest real-time strategy game ever created. If you haven’t played it, you owe it to yourself to give it a shot. Imagine the Civilization series played out in real time. That is what RoN went for and it succeeded. So much so that I still play it to this day. For almost 15 years now I have played the game with the same people and never grown tired of the experience.
So, why did I go off on that tangent? Age of Empires was a six-year-old strategy game by the time Rise of Nations launched. There was a big difference in the style of play. Age of Empires immediately felt dated when I tried to play it again back in the early ’00s. So when I launched the Definitive Edition, I was too excited to see a classic revitalized to remember what drew me away from the Empire series to start with. But the more I played, the more I remembered why Age of Empires, Age of Mythology, all the expansions and additional games, everything tied to that era of strategy gaming, it just started collecting dust.
Is Age of Empires: Definitive Edition going to be a fantastic game for fans? Without a doubt. But the game appeals to a particular type of fan, with unique tastes in their strategy cereals but for me, that cereal went stale ages ago. (I know… sorry).