It's a suitably excellent expansion to what remains one of the best real-time strategy games to date.
Released one year after Microsoft originally published the highly acclaimed real-time strategy sequel Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings, the official expansion pack, The Conquerors, faces serious competition. The burgeoning real-time strategy genre has grown and changed since Age of Kings, as several impressive fully 3D tactical combat games have emerged in the past year. It almost seems as if conventional real-time strategy games are already dead - as if they've been ousted by such games as Relic's Homeworld and Massive Entertainment's Ground Control, which de-emphasize resource-gathering and focus on 3D tactical combat. But Age of Empires II: The Conquerors proves once again that the classical formula for real-time strategy games still remains effective if executed properly. It's a suitably excellent expansion to what remains as one of the best real-time strategy games to date.
Certainly the most apparent new feature in Age of Conquerors is the addition of five new playable civilizations: the Aztecs, the Huns, the Koreans, the Mayans, and the Spanish. In particular, the Aztec and the Mayan civilizations feature an all-new Meso-American building set, which, together with their eagle-masked warriors and tribal monks, lend these two civilizations a distinct appearance. The Aztecs and the brute strength of their infantry and the Mayans and their hardy archers each play rather differently from the other 16 civilizations in The Conquerors, mainly because they have no cavalry and must instead rely on their powerful foot soldiers. But the other three new civilizations are also interesting: The nomadic Huns are adept at razing their opponents' structures, and unlike every other civilization in the game, they don't need to build houses to increase their maximum population limit. Meanwhile, the Koreans have formidable defenses to help them against just such a threat, thanks to their exceptional guard towers and siege weapons, along with their heavily armored horse-drawn war wagons and turtle-shaped boats. The Spanish are no less powerful, since their mounted conquistadors are armed with deadly short-range firearms, while their missionaries have the notorious conversion abilities of Age of Kings' monk units, but with greater mobility at the cost of a little range.
The five new civilizations in The Conquerors all make good additions to the game, but in spite of their special advantages, they do help demonstrate just how similar all the civilizations in The Conquerors really are. Though each civilization in the game has a unique unit and a new, unique technology available for research, ultimately many of these distinctions are either subtle or straightforward, since all the civilizations basically play the same way. It isn't the case that the 18 different civilizations in The Conquerors are all radically different from each other, although there's more than enough variety available to suit most any particular style of play.
The additional technologies in The Conquerors are a means of helping further balance the game and also accentuating each respective civilization's unique advantages. Some other universal balance changes affect some of the underused units in Age of Kings and make them more viable. Also, some of the Age of Kings civilizations have been tweaked to make them more balanced with the rest. Some of these changes are particularly noteworthy: For instance, you can now garrison foot soldiers inside battering rams, which not only makes the rams faster, but also lets the ram shield the infantry from archer fire while the troops themselves remain readily available to protect the ram at close range. This makes battering rams a very worthwhile alternative to the trebuchet, whose devastating long-range attack was almost imperative to the success of any battle in Age of Kings.
- Player Reviews: 102
- Game Universe:
- Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings (PC, PS2),
- Age of Empires II: Gold Edition (MAC, PC),
- Age of Empires III (PC, MAC, BB),
- Age of Empires III: The WarChiefs (PC, MAC),
- Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties (PC, MAC),
- Age of Empires (PC, MAC, GIZ, MOBILE),
- Age of Empires: Mythologies (DS),
- Age of Empires III: Gold Edition (PC),
- Age of Empires: The Age of Kings (DS),
- Age of Empires: Collector's Edition (PC)
- Number of Players: