Microsoft might be dreaming big but not logically at the beginning of the current generation with all the off-gaming milestones that it was expecting to reach with Xbox One. Fortunately, after Phil Spencer’s assignment as head of Xbox, the company has turned its way into a new direction with extra focus on gaming-related productions. Now, the next generation seems so bright for Xbox and Microsoft, regarding the huge line-up of games that they are preparing to launch in the next 3 or 4 years. Reviving old franchises is one of the new and interesting policies from the Xbox team. Two years ago, they officially confirmed working on the fourth installment of Age of Empires, though we still don’t know anything about the release date. However, to ease the long wait, we recently got a remastered version of Age of Empires 2 with a bunch of new missions, overhauled graphics, and multiplayer features. This is our Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition Review.
Reviving the series’ old-school methods in using strategy elements, Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition brings out the main reason why Microsoft has decided to give a second chance to the franchise over a decade after its last entry. Nowadays, strategy titles have gone into a new direction and formed in an altered shape and make them into different sub-genres with each one of them focusing on a specific aspect. Some of them like the Total War series are deeply simulating war situations in the old centuries, while other ones are mostly focusing on political and economic options instead of the action parts. On the other hand, going over a considerable number of old strategy games, we used to see all of the parts above in a single game, though not as detailed as they are now. Command & Conquer, Stronghold Crusader, Empire of World, and Age of Empires are some of the most famous old-school strategy franchises, and except AoE, almost all of them died a long time ago.
Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition may cost you $20 but it is definitely worth it as a $60 game for those who haven’t played the original, considering its high-quality texture-packs and rich content. In campaign mode, you can start your journey in one of the five continents of the world. Each continent contains a bunch of different real-world empires to play as and allowing you to find out about their origin, rise, and fall over the ancient years. Although the narrative might feel like reading some small excerpts about historical events on Wikipedia, following the steps of the famous kings of the world, especially the ones that are related to your own country’s history, is interesting enough. The team has tried to prepare various starting locations and scenarios for every empire’s story-line based on real events, but it is somehow inevitable to avoid repetitive beginnings for dozens of historical journeys.
In the case of gameplay, Age of Empires 2 still delivers a great experience with a lot of options to allow you to execute your wildest strategies in the middle of a battle. A wide variety of attacking forces is available to your army, while new cavalry and infantry forces are being added as you progress in the game. Speaking of the constructions, the number of defending structures that you can build to avoid the upcoming attacks isn’t many, which most of the time leaves you no way other than building layers of walls filled with archers against your enemies.
Battles are still challenging and need you to have a wise plan if you seek success. However, the AI for your own troops is disappointing. Sometimes your soldiers just don’t seem to understand what you chose for them to do, which may ruin your plans and result in a defeat.
When it comes to multiplayer, the matchmaking system doesn’t work properly which makes it a bit frustrating to wait for real opponents, but on the other hand, playing Age of Empires 2 online over a decade after its launch isn’t something you ever want to miss. Fortunately, there isn’t any annoying issue during the online matches except the matchmaking.
Up until now, most of the things I’ve talked about are part of the game’s core that you can spot in the original game as well, but the biggest changes in Definitive Edition are the overhauled graphics and new texture packs. Thanks to all the improvements that have been applied to the game, Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition looks like a current-gen title if you ignore the details. Technically, the game could be named as one of the best remasters of 2019. The Definitive Edition is something between a remake and remaster if you consider the new content and features as well. No bugs, no frame-drops, and moderate optimization leave nothing to criticize about its visuals.