Some weekends just turn out to be really awesome in a really special way. Sometimes, you just sit at home all bored out of your mind, and then a friend saves you by taking you to this really cool party. Other weekends become the stuff of legends because you go on a totally unexpected trip to the beach. This weekend, however, became grand because I had all the time in the world to sit behind my computer and play strategy games. Civilization V consumed most of my time today, but what kept me busy on a lazy Saturday was the recently released HD, polished and shiny version of Age of Empires 2. Is an RTS from ’97 still fun? Well, of course, ’cause it’s goddamn Age of Empires 2!
Let me get one thing straight: I’m not a fan of RTS games. Most of them are way to hectic for me. I played Starcraft 2 to see how much fun the single player campaign is (it’s a lot of fun), but after two multiplayer matches, I had to learn that my hand-eye coordination is…well, not optimal. Also, the idea of having to build everything anew in every game annoys me. I’m a sucker for persistence, and most RTS do not offer me that.
So, why am I all over such an old RTS then? Well, AoE2 was a game I played until I dropped. It was just…good. The campaigns were fun, and the random matches were also challenging (if you play on a higher difficulty). Furthermore, when the game released, the amount of different cultures you could play was enormous. Even though the differences between them were just a few units and some passive effects, every culture feels unique (though buildings and units don’t look so unique).
But how can such an old game be still fun, compared to the more modern games of the genre? Well, what often puts me off when playing a “new” RTS is the really fast gameplay. I blame Starcraft 1 and 2 for that, which require you to move your fingers across the keyboard with the speed of light. Since AoE2 comes from a slower, easier time, where RTS games still had to find out what they were trying to do, it feels a lot simpler and more accessible. Playing a match doesn’t make my fingers burn, and I don’t feel like some moron when I haven’t maxed my tech after fifteen minutes.
It’s impressive what such an old game can do to me, and how good it still is by modern standards. The HD version (available on Steam) is a chance for everyone to experience the complete Age of Empires experience, for less than twenty Euros! Every computer can run it, so give this timeless masterpiece a try. True quality never dies, and Age of Empires 2 HD Edition proves that!