Age of Empires II: Age of Kings

Age of Empires II: Age of Kings
4.5
Platforms: PC, Mac, PlayStation 2
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Ensemble Entertainment
Genres: Strategy / Real-Time Strategy
Release Date: September 30, 1999
Game Modes: Singleplayer / Multiplayer

‘Tis good to be the king.

Capitalizing on the resounding success that was Age of Empires, Ensemble Studios scrambled to create a sequel that was worthy of its predecessor. Three years in the making and one year late of its scheduled release, Age of Empires 2 is every bit of a great sequel as it is a terrific game in its own right.

Just about every facet of Age of Kings has been improved from its predecessor, starting with the graphics and ending with the AI and interface. Yet in the greater scheme of things, it’s still the same game. You’re still tasked with finding a proper balance between gathering resources, advancing your technology and reigning bloody terror upon your enemies.

A New Age Dawns

Snap23_1

The graphics are noticeably improved.

Age of Kings is a chronological continuation of Age of Empires and its expansion, The Rise of Rome. The thing that sets the original as well as Age of Kings apart from other RTS games is the large number of technologies available to research combined with the fact that your empire moves through four distinct historical ages: the Dark Ages, the Feudal Age, the Castle Age, and the Imperial Age. Advancing to a new age opens up new buildings and technologies for your empire. Basically, it’s about as close to real-time Civilization as anyone has gotten, and the game’s full of options as a result.

Age of Empires II has on offer an impressive collection of fourteen playable civilizations from around the world. These civilizations aren’t drastically different, but they do offer subtle strategic variations for the shrewd player to exploit. The vikings, for instance, gain a tremendous bonus out of sea combat, and hence will be more efficient on coastal rather than desert maps. The French are famous for their cavalry charges while the barbaric Goths, known for their reliance on mass numbers to overwhelm, can fork out units faster and cheaper than most. Besides benefiting from special bonuses, cultures also posses their own special unit. The Britons have their famous Longbowmen, the Japanese command Samurai while the Persians have powerful War Elephants, to name a few.

Just as there is no real dominant civilization, there are no dominant units. The Teutonic Knights are very strong, but slow, which makes them easy prey for cavalry archers. The Mongol Mangudai (unique cavalry archers) are deadly to all infantry, but cannot hold up against foot archers or light cavalry. The Persian War Elephants are hard to kill and receive a bonus when attacking buildings, but they are very expensive and weak against cheap spearmen. Every unit, even the most expensive ones, have at least one critical weakness that you can exploit.

Snap1_1Rushes are also not as efficient in Age of Kings, or at least not in the buildings phase of earlier ages. You can only train basic militia in the Dark Ages, and they are not very strong, nor are resources easily accessible for players to pour everything into a large, disposable raiding party. Also, you can garrison your almost-defenseless villagers in the town center where they can usually make short work of a Dark Age raid. In the Feudal and Castle Ages, the civilizations have access to towers, walls, and castles that make it possible to set up strong defenses.

In the Imperial Age, your attack options open up and you get access to powerful siege engines, including the trebuchet, which can reduce a building to rubble very quickly but is virtually worthless against anything that isn’t stationary. In the long run, players who dig into their home town and stay there will find themselves running dry on resources by the Imperial Age. This is a good a time as any to go on the offensive.

Although the game really shines in multiplayer, there are also four campaigns (plus a tutorial) set around historical figures that loosely follow the major campaigns of those figures. Joan of Arc starts out a peasant girl who must raise an army and drive the British from France. Ghengis Khan must unite the various Mongol tribes into a single army before setting out on his conquests. The Saracen king, Saladin, has to bring the other Middle Eastern kingdoms into line before driving the Crusaders from the Holy Land. Finally, Frederick Barbarosa sets out to rebuild the Holy Roman Empire in the image of Charlemagne.

The Ordeal of Command

One complaint you could throw at the original Age of Empires had nothing to do with the game itself, but with the advertising that showed armies arrayed in formation preparing to do battle. Unfortunately, Age of Empires, like many other RTS games, didn’t have the benefit of formations.

Age of Kings answers that complaint somewhat at least. When you grab a bunch of infantry and move them, they fall into a line for short moves or a column for long ones. If you grab different types of units like infantry, archers, and siege engines, they will fall into a logical formation with the most heavily armored units towards the front, ranged units next, and siege engines nestled in the rear.

It looks all very nice and organized during long marches, but the formation option has limited tactical value when swords and shields start clashing. Huge orderly armies quickly disband and work as individual units, and battles (especially large ones) once again degenerate into confusing click fests. Soldiers have short attention spans, so you must always shuffle control groups and constantly assign new targets just to keep your troops focused. The unit AI is overall improved from the first game, but is still a hassle to lead organized raids with.

Snap32_1Rally points are a positive addition over Age of Empires. Any structures that can build or garrison units can have a gather point set for them. Any unit created by that building will automatically head for the gather point, and if it is inside a building that the unit can enter, it will automatically garrison. The town center can set gather points on resources and newly created villagers will automatically start collecting that resource when created. This has since become one of the “must-have” features for all real-time strategy games.

While the interface allows for far better control of your armies, the AI is still the only major problem with the game. Never mind the behavior of your computer-controlled enemies, which are otherwise tolerable if a bit weird (eg: suicidal lone knights attacking Castles). The real issue here is when you command your own men who have a single-minded focus to kill whatever they see first. Leading large-scale raids into enemy towns is extremely frustrating because your army tends to split up and attack nearby buildings with complete abandon, ignoring more urgent threats. This entails that you babysit your army so they attack enemy soldiers first and buildings second, continually applying corrections as you go. Let them loose and it’s absolute mayhem with no hope of victory. Throw in a few catapults (which inexplicably inflict friendly splash damage) and you’re guaranteed to have a bad day.

The chaotic AI is only partly addressed by changing the unit behavior of the selected unit from ‘aggressive’ (default) to ‘defensive’, which makes them a little more manageable. Other options will turn your units completely inert, which in itself can have specific uses. For one thing, your catapults won’t launch boulders everywhere haphazardly, always killing your own men in the process. But there’s still no way of making soldiers ignore buildings and focus on just attacking other troops, and, when necessary, hostile Towers and Castles.

The less-than-ideal AI and extremely drawn out campaign missions are the only things keeping AoE 2 from a five-star rating, but it stands tall regardless. It looks great, is very well balanced, and is easy to get absorbed in. The game has more strategy and fewer mouse gymnastics than the average RTS game from the same period, and while it’s probably not the best RTS game ever made, it does offer some undeniable fun.


System Requirements: Pentium 166 Mhz, 32 MB RAM, Win 95/98/NT4/2000

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Tags: Free Download Age of Empires 2 The Age of Kings Full PC Game Review

56 Comments

  1. Vipul Solanki says:

    I have Windows 10. Is it work over Windows 10? How to register the game?

  2. Masel says:

    i have a problem . when i try to install conquerors expansions to this game the installer dont see age of empires . could u help me?

  3. Install this program – http://www.utorrent.com/ – and press the green button. You will find the CD versions to both games

  4. Masel says:

    thx! great job with this web site! you gave us games of our childhood !

  5. Nicolas says:

    How can i install the Conquerors expansion and others?

  6. Go to http://www.oldpcgaming.net/age-of-empires-ii-the-conquerors-review/

    Download both red links and install games. Or use magnet links

  7. Ibra says:

    when i install the conquerors expansion the installer says ” the disc image file is corrupted” . help?

  8. Shankster says:

    I downloaded full game but something came up that asked if I wanted to allow and unknown file to be downloaded onto the computer. IDK wether to say yes or no because I don’t know what it means

  9. Shankster says:

    I downloaded the full version and something came up that asked if I wanted to let an unknown file run on my computer. IDK whether to select yes or no because I have no idea what it means

  10. Snigdha says:

    I cant install the game…wht to do now??/plz help

  11. Use the link from the white button

  12. az says:

    is it legal ?

  13. val says:

    hello can you help me? i cant seem to download it..
    can you teach me how?

  14. Pendragon says:

    I’m using windows 10 and it says it couldn’t initialize the graphics system, anyone else having this problem and/or know the solution?

  15. vivek says:

    I have Window 10. plz tell me that i can enjoy this game in my pc. plz admin. provide answerel.

  16. Tamim bakshi says:

    Can I play this game on Mac ?

  17. Windows only. Sorry

  18. Will says:

    Hi, trying to download this and as it looks like its about to complete it says:

    ‘Windows cannot find ‘C:AOE-II’. Make sure you typed the name correctly, and then try again. Please advise how I get around this.

  19. Saymon says:

    I want to play the game.
    do I need to buy the game?
    or it is free??

  20. rajeev says:

    password required for extraction.

  21. shinox says:

    i cant change resolution in game. to small

  22. Matt says:

    says: windows cannot find C:AOE-II. make sure you typed the name correctly, and then try again. so what do i do

  23. Oli says:

    Same here…

  24. woodypynes says:

    Yes, I get the same thing, even when I click on the link Old PC Gaming supplied above.

  25. The game will install and run despite this error. It’s a shortcut path error.

  26. alex says:

    Hi there, i am not able to play with a friend in a local network. Have you done it before ?

  27. I managed to play in LAN using the cd version (magnet link). Also played online without problems

  28. A unknown person says:

    Downloader is stuck on 51% Copying ARIALND.TIF

    Help fix plz

  29. A unknown person says:

    ty

  30. gadgil says:

    how to instal this game

  31. Rimantas says:

    gagdil, just like anything you install on pc. and IF you can read, find “CAN’T RUN A GAME?” on this site and press “Read this first”. If you can’t read, go to school to learn it.

  32. berno says:

    Cant fin multiplayer game between me and friend?

  33. Kyle says:

    The sound doesn’t seem to work in scenario briefings and debriefings, how can I fix that?

  34. benji says:

    coolest game ever played. since childhood

  35. Anonymousasian says:

    So what does it mean if my drive/graphic is incompatible? How would I be able to fix that?

  36. Churchill says:

    The game runs perfectly in my Win 7, but the textures of water are bugged. What i can do?

  37. You can fidget with the color settings or run the game in the WinXP virtual machine. it’s the win7 color bug you get with a few 2d games
    https://www.ottorask.com/blog/age-of-empires-2-how-to-fix-the-odd-colors-on-windows-7/
    http://www.oldpcgaming.net/how-to-run-any-game-on-win-7-8-10/

  38. Churchill says:

    Oh, i gonna try, thank you!

  39. Huzaifaa says:

    this is a fking virus guys if you dont believe me than download it and search virustotal at google and scan the file asap

  40. christ, fine, lets look at it – https://www.virustotal.com/ro/file/04f78c1d45b39667856b626c11c37a36b717bd2ca6dd475be4eb8688476aee8a/analysis/
    so 3 out of 61 apps found 3 alleged viruses. with that much of a consensus, and with more mainstream programs like Avast, Avira, ESET, McAfee and Norton finding NOTHING, you’d think it was a false positive, but lets look at each one individually anyway.
    Trojan.DR.Agent!e/ej0muYyKs – googled it, it says it’s a ‘generic detection name for trojans’. Ok, so that’s a useless descriptor, no idea what I’m supposed to be looking for. You’d think every other AV software would have found it.
    Next: TrojanDownloader:Win32/Genome.- googled it, “a trojan that silently downloads and installs other programs without consent.” Well I had this AoE 2 installed on 2 laptops and that didn’t happen.
    And the final one Trojan.DR.Agent!e/ej0muYyKs – “adds pop up banners randomly when browsing online.” That didn’t happen to me either. Hence, I can’t find any reason to believe this is a legit alert.

  41. Rimantas says:

    I have downloaded many games from this site and NONE of them had any virus. huzaifaa, it’s only your fault if you use online apps like this.

  42. I would legit like to know if anyone experienced the aforementioned problems associated with those viruses. if anyone else downloaded / used this aoe2, please let me know, because i didn’t have any issues.

  43. Rimantas says:

    I have tested AoE 2 from this site. Avast didn’t see anything wrong in it. Game installed and worked flawlessly.

  44. Piyush says:

    Hey dude thanks man u r awesome

  45. Dyna says:

    The game has sound but no music seems to play during random map. Why cant I hear the OST?

    This is on both the installed and CD version.

    Thanks

  46. I’ve had that issue too. I think it’s because you need to run the music tracks off a burned CD from the BIN file. i don’t know for sure

  47. alexander says:

    if i download the installer (direct play) must i download the cd image too? i`m not understand about cd file (nvr succes when install a game with cd version)

  48. directplay doesn’t need the cd.

  49. ageofempiresfan says:

    I have a problem with your directplay file.
    Have a look:https://www.virustotal.com/#/file/04f78c1d45b39667856b626c11c37a36b717bd2ca6dd475be4eb8688476aee8a/detection

    Also my antivirus blocked malware. Not good.

  50. ugh fine. i’ll remove it because i’m tired of this, but you’re dead wrong. this is a legit installer which i had for years and had encountered zero problems. also, one small detail

    https://www.virustotal.com/ro/file/04f78c1d45b39667856b626c11c37a36b717bd2ca6dd475be4eb8688476aee8a/analysis/
    did you notice 3 out of 61 apps found 3 alleged viruses. with that much of a consensus, and with more mainstream programs like Avast, Avira, ESET, McAfee and Norton finding NOTHING, you’d think it was a false positive????? Instead you have frigging Rising AV? I google searched the detected viruses and it’s either useless generic shit, or things that I have never experienced when I had the game installed (having other programs installed without my consent – the installer doesn’t do this). My guess is because it’s a third party installer, those two AV get uppity while the others don’t care. anyway, i’m uploading another copy so i won’t hear people complain anymore

    end of spergery

  51. Tiger says:

    how to setup the “The Conquerors” I extract the file and click the file but nothing show up

  52. vex 3 says:

    Thank you for providing this game guide and information. I will learn to play it

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