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Pixel Reviews+Gives Away: Age of Empires II HD (PC)

Developer: Hidden Path Entertainment/Ensemble Studios

Publisher: Microsoft Studios

Platform: PC

Release Date: April 9th, 2013

 

 

Age of Empires has gone through a good number of games by now, including a spin-off or two (Age of Mythology, anyone?), but it hasn't really touched on its roots at all. That's changed now with the release of Age of Empires II HD on Steam this week. It boasts adding new features and a nice little coat of HD paint, but are they actually worthwhile additions to spend $20 on?

 

I'll be honest- I've never played an Age of Empires game before. I did play (the fantastic) Age of Mythology quite extensively when I was younger, but that's a whole other diamond in the strategy game mine. The Age of Empires series, particularly the first 3 games, are simple to the core yet still incredibly fun to play. You try your hardest to take out the enemy, which can be AI bots, other players online, or a mix of the two. You build hordes of units to first collect resources for your soon-to-be mighty kingdom, and then either smash, diplomatically ally with, or sneak in a victory with your wonder against your opponents. There's tons of units, buildings, and civilizations to play as. Also, there are plenty of map choices, with randomization being the most fun option of course. I can definitely see why everyone and their pet horny toad seems to love this game, as I do too now!

 

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This new HD edition comes with some new and some old extra tidbits of course. Firstly, the Conquerors expansion pack is included, which basically adds to every aspect of the game. Next up is the general modernization of the game. It now runs on modern versions of Windows with no problems, has widescreen support, support for resolutions up to 1920x1080, and even support for multiple monitors. Oh! Who could forget the "HD" tag too? The lighting is improved apparently and the textures look a bit better. It's not awfully much but overall it is definitely much prettier to look at.

 

Steam Workshop is included with the game to help making downloading or uploading maps, campaigns, and mods for the game loads easier than it was in the days of the 90s and early 2000s. I'm glad more games are using Steam Workshop, and this seems like a great canidate for it.

 

At the cost of this comes a few things that did end up annoying me a bit. To start with, the graphics themselves haven't seen much of a "HD" change as to be expected by the title. It still looks great for a late 90s game, but an actual HD overhaul would've been great. The resolution also seemingly can't be changed, as it takes whatever your desktop resolution is. With this being an expanded version of an older game, I'd expect it to at least let you change what resolution you want the game at, but this is just a small nuisance really.

 

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I'd also like to say that the multiplayer is absolute gold in this game. There's a new system in place just for the HD version, and while I'm not sure how it differs from the original multiplayer system, it is certainly quite stable, if a bit laggy.

 

Playing with a fellow GP buddy (Ludono), we had a cubic kilometer of fun in the few games we played. Each game takes multiple hours to finish usually, though it is possible to save and re-load games you've played with others luckily. The experiences we had were both ridiculous and awesome at the same time (have YOU ever seen massive armies of Spanish conquistadores plowing their way through anything in their way? I bet not!).

 

There was only one time when we weren't really enjoying the game, and that was when we teamed up against 6 A.I. opponents who promptly ganged up on me early on in the game, forcing us to quit early and start anew. This was completely due to the randomization of the map though I think, as my buddy was on the opposite side of the fairly large map. However, every other moment of our time spent in the multiplayer portion of the game was very fun and we really enjoyed bashing each other's brains out in one game and then teaming up to fight fiercesome A.I. opponents the next. Anything goes in a game of tactics and while Age of Empires II HD isn't overly heavy on it, how you win (or don't!) is up to you.

 

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Is Age of Empires II HD still a worthwhile addition to the very prestigious series it's a part of?

 

Definitely! The new additions might not be that huge, but they serve their purpose well for making the game actually playable on modern computers. The game is a classic by far, and while it may not be the most HD-realistic, ultra-modern portrayal of combat in the Middle Ages, it's still an incredibly fun one. Check it out here if you're interested: http://store.steampo...com/app/221380/

 

I give this game a: 9/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to win a copy of the game? Register (if you haven't already) and comment below telling me your favorite strategy game of all time- or, if you don't have one, tell me your favorite ancient (let's say, pre-1500 A.D.) civilization!

 

Contest ends Wednesday, April 17, 2013. Get entered now to win this great game before it's too late! ;)

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Great review Pixel! I've never played any of the Age of Empires game, but my bro as the third and all of its expansions. I don't really have a favorite despite never playing, but I would have to say Japan. It would be fun playing in the feudal era. Always been a fan of those era with warlords from empires fighting each other. Anyways definitely a pretty good looking HD. I am sure it will work on my new laptop and good luck to everyone entering as well. It would be fun to play with you again.

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Fantastic review! (Pretty sure it beats the stuffing out of mine ;) )

 

Obviously I'm not entering your contest (though I'd totally win if I did) but I'd say my favourite strategy game would have to be a tie between this game, Age of Mythology, Civilization 3, Battle of Red Cliffs, Command and Conquer Red Alert/Yuris Revenge and Empire Earth. I love too many strategy game D:

 

Favourite civilization in this game would probably have to be the Teutons (Love Teutonic culture) and the Spanish because Conquistadores = OP

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Nicely done. I played the newer Age of Empires a while ago, Age of Empires Online and I did quite enjoy it. However, I'm probably gonna go with Warcraft 2 as my favorite. I loved being able to make all my Orc minions dance when the music suddenly changed from daring and dramatic to disco haha. That, and the online was actually fun! I love era games as well, like TK said, but I think I'm gonna say my favorite civilization was either Greece or Spain. I love Greek mythology and architecture, and I love the Spanish culture. Good look to everyone else as well!

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Fantastic review! (Pretty sure it beats the stuffing out of mine ;) )

 

Obviously I'm not entering your contest (though I'd totally win if I did) but I'd say my favourite strategy game would have to be a tie between this game, Age of Mythology, Civilization 3, Battle of Red Cliffs, Command and Conquer Red Alert/Yuris Revenge and Empire Earth. I love too many strategy game D:

 

Favourite civilization in this game would probably have to be the Teutons (Love Teutonic culture) and the Spanish because Conquistadores = OP

 

 

Yep.

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This is my favorite strategy game lol or at least the original II. I got it at Walmart years ago and sometimes I still settle down and play with it. Like I mentioned before I loved being Japan in this games and I learned quite a bit about history (i love history) specially Japan thanks to the original game.

 

I'm not entering the giveaway even though I can play this game according to steam. But since I already have the original I don't see the point on getting a HD version of it. GL to everyone thats entering thanks for the giveaway pixy.

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For me this is also my favourite RTS game from all time. I don´t really like this type of games, but I think it was one of the first videogames I played in my life. Amazing!

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Nice review! I don't really play strategy games much, but this one sounds like it might be worth checking out. My favorite strategy game I've played is XCOM: Enemy Unknown, since it's a pretty simple game that doesn't bog you down with too many details, and the battles are fun and feel more like a tactical RPG than anything.

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Well, this was kinda lame. Really dissapointed in how many entries there were, but ah well. The giveaway is just a nice little tack-on! :D

 

Anywho, sorry about forgetting to announce the winner last night. I mean, not like anyone entered in that time anyway, eh.

 

Of the four entries, the winner is......

 

rafael07!

 

Since you're new, I sent you a PM asking you to reply back to make sure you're still here I guess. :P

 

If you don't respond back in a few days, I'll draw another random winner. So, reply back as soon as you can! :D

 

Congrats, and enjoy!

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Well, this was kinda lame. Really dissapointed in how many entries there were, but ah well. The giveaway is just a nice little tack-on! :D

 

Anywho, sorry about forgetting to announce the winner last night. I mean, not like anyone entered in that time anyway, eh.

 

Of the four entries, the winner is......

 

rafael07!

 

Since you're new, I sent you a PM asking you to reply back to make sure you're still here I guess. :P

 

If you don't respond back in a few days, I'll draw another random winner. So, reply back as soon as you can! :D

 

Congrats, and enjoy!

Oh! thank you so much!

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