Age of Empires (1997)

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Title: Age of Empires (Video Game 1997)

Age of Empires (Video Game 1997) on IMDb 8.2/10

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Plot Keywords:

fictional war | See All (1) »

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Release Date:

15 October 1997 (USA)  »

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Followed by Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome (1998) See more »

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Review of the opening sequence;
21 February 2012 | by (The San Francisco Bay Area) – See all my reviews

This is not a computer game review, but a review of the custscenes and specifically the opening sequences.

I've played tons of computer games. From Coleco to Atari, to the Commodore 64, to the first Apple and PC games. Each had a kind of tantalizing art that drew you into the world the game was trying to portray. In the 70s and early 80s the games were fairly prosaic and, at times, just plain poor.

The more advanced computer technology got, the more the game designers pushed the envelopes with the scope, scale and artistry of the games they were designing. This included the introductory sequences. For me, the epitome of intros was Ensemble Studios' "Age of Empires".

We open with a panoramic travelling vista, and crane down and move in on a ruin, replete with an ancient warrior, still clutching his shield and weapon, as if this were his last act before having his life taken from him in the heat of battle.

We then dissolve to an earlier time, where we see perhaps our lifeless soldier brought back from the dead to reenact his final engagement with several thousand of his best friends and enemies. Each side pours into one another with symbolic blood lust, stemming from the desire to show the other side what real men are made of.

We get glimpses of the preparation of battle, the opening stages of the battle, some of the battle itself in the form of a montage, only to end with a dissolve to the familiar skeleton we saw moments before the clash of armies on some forgotten plane laying outside some equally anonymous city of eons ago, now buried under time and sand.

To me, not only having been an avid player of the game, this opening sequence is really something to see. It gives us a narrative that is thought provoking and voyeuristic. We witness a slice of ancient history, albeit imaginary history, and are shown the long aftermath of that conflict that has been forgotten thousands of years hence.

What happened? What were these men like? Who were they? Why were they fighting? What happened afterwards? These are the feelings that should be running through you as you watch this marvelous, yet very brief, introductory sequence.

The game itself? I played it a great deal, but only because I was invited to join one of the many online clans. And I met many online friends there. But I was never a really huge fan of the game as such. A decent time waster.

But the state setting via the opening sequence? Superb.

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