Age of Empires Online is a free to play browser MMORTS that was brought to us by Microsoft Studios, finally bringing the off the shelf brand to the free to play audience. The game puts players in control of ancient empires such as the Greeks and Egyptians and has players competing against each other in a race for resources and supremacy.
If you played the off the shelf version of Age of Empires, the first thing that you will notice with the free to play version is the complete change in artistic style. Many will disagree with the game drifting away from a detailed look to something a lot more cartoon based, though others may be able to look past it.
Once you start the game up, the first task for you to do is to choose from one of the two civilizations to represent. You then are literally thrown right in to building up your capital city from scratch. This, like other types of RTS games, involves constructing buildings, collecting resources, amassing an army, upgrading weapons, taking on quests and taking part in PvP options.
You will spend the majority of time working on your capital city but there are other things you can do to pass the time too. This will involve working with a companion to complete quests and the like.
Your capital city is the most important part of the game though and it will require you to have a real handle on your economy. Without a good economy, your city will struggle, so you always need to know what are the best moves each time.
The tasks and quests in the game will have you defeating enemies, rescuing family members and finding special items. Completion of these quests will reward you in experience that will allow you to level up, gold and other resources. As you level up you will be able to unlock better technologies from the tech tree.
This tech tree is split up into three separate categories, with those being economy, utility and of course the much needed military.
These are significant unfortunately. Players are able to buy important items for cash that would take a free player a long time to craft. This is a massive disadvantage and one that could lead to the demise of the game if not balanced a little fairer.
These items are not cheap too, $7 each and there are many that are needed. So although the advantages are large, they do come at some expense for those that are willing to pay.
To be honest, the battles are a little dated now. We understand that they wanted to keep things fairly similar to the original but other games have advanced with their battle scenes whereas this game has not.
It is the usual formula of some units being able to defeat other types such as archers being good against infantry and cavalry being good against archers etc.
As much as an iconic game Age of Empires was, it feels like it needs to evolve a little as despite being one of the originals when it comes to the RTS genre, others have now taken that genre far further since then.
Still, it will be an enjoyable game for those that love the previous titles, just perhaps it will not for the newer generation of players.
Update: Age of Empires Online Shut down on july the 2nd 2014!
Pros of Age Empires Online
- Great tech tree
- Can be fun to play
- Large player base
Cons of Age of Empires Online
- High cost for premium
- A little dated now
- Co-op games experience quite a bit of lag