Have You Played… Age of Empires?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

They’re making a HD version of it, so it must be good, right?

The first will never be as popular or as well-regarded as its sequel, Age of Empires II: Age of Kings, which has already received its high fidelity makeover and is somehow still getting expanded. But it deserves its place in the vidyagame annals, kicking off the series that was seen at the time as a blend of Civ and Warcraft.

It also tried to give a sense of eras passing, even if they went quite quickly. From being hunter-gatherers to becoming Iron Age warfolk, it chose history over fantasy and laid the stoney, warlike foundations for its kingly followup. Well done, Age of Empires. Well done.

38 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    Allemaal.

    Only played the demo of the second, but I played quite a lot of the first game. Don’t think I ever finished it though. Really charming strategy game.

  2. mikeasic says:

    I am super excited for this…. stop supporting lazy pile of shits they need to make new ones not this garbage.

    • poliovaccine says:

      That… seems contradictory?

      • Nosebeggar says:

        Looks like he was trying to be sarcastic, yet failed.

        Also they tried making a new AoE (III) and failed ridiculously. Don’t cater to graphic whores, rather make games with good gameplay.

        AoE2 is now better than ever and still one of the greatest strategy games of all time.

  3. Gothnak says:

    I worked on Warrior Kings & Warrior Kings: Battles, which with my somewhat biased memory i always thought were better than Age of Empires.

    However 2d art certainly ages better than 3d!

    • TheDandyGiraffe says:

      Warrior Kings was nice, but what ultimately sold AoE was the (admittedly “light”) historical background. Especially in AoE II you had those really nice single player campaigns full of historical flavour and nuance, which at the time was considered really innovative and refreshing. At least that’s how I remember it.

    • Greg Wild says:

      I always thought it was a shame Warrior Kings didn’t do better — I really enjoyed some of the ideas it had going for it. I would love to see someone try to do it again. The tech-trees were fantastic, as was the emphasis on bleeding your opponents dry with attacks on their economy. I got many hours out of it – thank you for your time spent working on it!

      • Gothnak says:

        Huzzah. Those that played it did seem to like it, pity we had such a small marketing budget.

        There is still a small but passionate Italian RTS community playing it most of the time, no idea why :).

  4. Sin Vega says:

    It all moved too fast for my tastes, too much of a race. But I did enjoy breeding a tonne of priests, so you’d get massive three way wars where two sides brough knights and legionnaries and catapults, and another had a constantly replenished line of robed old men calmly chanting and waving their hands about.

  5. Biggus_Dikkus says:

    l loved cheat units in this game

    • HigoChumbo says:

      e=mc2 trooper
      ctrl+c
      ctrl+v
      ctrl+v
      ctrl+v
      ctrl+v
      ctrl+v
      ctrl+v
      ctrl+v
      ctrl+v

    • Orazio Zorzotto says:

      They had it on the school computers but it got uninstalled when we discovered Big Daddy.

  6. zulnam says:

    “It’s old and with historical setting”. Take it easy, wikileaks.

  7. Duckeenie says:

    It makes no logical sense but I always preferred the first game. The second game is definitely the more polished product.

  8. HigoChumbo says:

    The little interest I had in the remake faded away when they said they were changing the soundtrack.

    • Artificial says:

      Massive shame if that’s true.

      • Zorgulon says:

        I believe they’re re-recording it using an actual orchestra, rather than changing it per se.

        Still, I suppose the original has the nostalgia value with its MIDI tones.

        • GepardenK says:

          The original game also had CD music, and it was glorious. The MIDI version was used as a backup in case you diddn’t have the CD inserted.

  9. drfish says:

    I got my first taste of niche internet recognition thanks to AoE. I used to make “Agetoons” back in the day and shared them on AoE Heaven. The handle I use most places online to this day dates back to that time.

    • PopeInnocent says:

      Have been lurking here for years but the mention of Agetoons was what it took to finally push me to sign up. I used to love them…a nice respite from 4v4 RM on the msn gaming zone.

      P.S. Rise of Rome expansion is indispensable for anyone looking to re-visit AoE 1.

  10. ruaidhri.k says:

    1997 – 4 students,one house, one PC, playing in shifts. much happiness.
    1998 expansion comes out, map size increases, PC cant handle it. 4 students manly struggle through
    1999 – sequel comes out, laughs at PC. much sadness

  11. HeroCrests says:

    I got it as a kid and spent hours playing it, but being a 6 year old with little thinking skills I was astronomically bad at it, and got defeated all the time. I don’t think I ever managed to get far in it.

    My solution, of course, was to just go to the level editor and give myself all of the cool units, then make a tiny island in a corner and put the enemy village there, then win almost instantly as the game started.

    • GepardenK says:

      Been there. The campaigns were a mystical and magical place because we couldn’t get anywhere in them. Yet we used to sit as a group and try every day after school. There was many rumors about what would actually happen when you got far in them, some were pretty outlandish. Then one day we finally (somehow) made it past the first Greek mission. It was a transcending achievement that would be talked about at school for weeks to come – though most people diddn’t believe us.

  12. poliovaccine says:

    I actually never did, it was all about AoE II for me – cus it came free with the first ever PC my folks bought for the house.

    Incidentally, I dreamed of a game like Empire Earth, til they made Empire Earth. Just took the “age” mechanic to the natural extreme, going from the stone age to a far-flung future. And it let you zoom in gloriously close!

    It wasnt quite as good a strategy game as AoE II was, though. I made so many little custom campaigns in the map editor, goddamn. I had no life and I loved it.

  13. Ent says:

    I remember it was never sold in China because the Japan / Yamato campaign featured they invade Korea, defeat Chinese / Tang Army, and said something like “If they didn’t stop here they could enter China 1,000 years earlier”. So we ended up playing pirated versions. Oh well.

    • cuc says:

      Microsoft at the time simply did not do game publishing in mainland China at all.
      Fun fact: AoE1 actually happened to be the only game in the series ever officially released in mainland China, in the form of the “Ubi eXclusive” budget version a few years later.
      As for the Yamato campaign, vehement protests from the Korean government got them rename all factions in the last two scenarios in all subsequent editions.

    • pekingduckman says:

      I vaguely remember this. The original final mission, Tang Invasion, was set during the Baekje-Tang War of 663, where historically the Tang Chinese and Silla armies defeated the Baekje and Yamato armies in Korea. Besides being ahistorical, I also thought it is weird to have a scenario being set long after antiquity ended. It did also receive complaints from South Koreans since Starcraft and other RTS games are taking off there.

      link to ageofempires.wikia.com

  14. Ejia says:

    Seeing the headline I automatically thought yes, but I can’t remember actually playing it. Maybe I was thinking of AoE II.

  15. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Well, that takes me back. I still have the box with the pretty art on it and the huge manual in it.

    I haven’t played Age of Empires in ages, but I can vaguely recall it was quite fun. I never played another game in the series so I can’t easily compare it with them.

    I remember I liked the Egyptians and Greeks, though. Greek houses had those tiled roofs you can see in the screenshot.

  16. Jovian09 says:

    This was my first true RTS and an important game to me. I’d like to try the remaster, but its Windows store exclusivity is putting me off. Anyone who has experience with the Windows store these days: Is it a hassle? I already have games spread across Steam, Origin and Uplay; is the Windows storefront comparable to any of those?

    • GepardenK says:

      I don’t have that much experience with it but it is much better than it used to be. I think the platform itself is mostly fine. The main problem will be it’s userbase and that will hurt this release badly. Still, you can’t really blame MS for wanting to use their own platform for their own game.

  17. Amiideus says:

    First of all the intro CGI had a tremendous impact on me, I would re-enact it in my garden and the school-yard all the time (I was 14 7).

    Then I much prefer AOE1 to the second iteration, the fortress really weren’t a great mechanic, being both production and defence and being so strong. The Factions were different enough in AOE1, but I have to admit the second one did that better.

    However the Naval aspect was more developed if I remember correctly. Anyhow, after AOE1 I went straight to Warcraft and never looked back on AoE. And I think it played a role in why I love Antiquity so much.

  18. Major Seventy Six says:

    Did play for way too many hours.
    It was a blast the day I discovered you could play in LAN with a single CD in a shared CD ROM drive as long as all players would have installed from that shared network drive :D
    Zoogantha!

  19. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    I played this for ages.

    Too bad the remake is Win10 only. I’m not fond of spyware and I don’t have it installed.