The Roman Empire, and The Rise of... uh, It. What a subject for an expansion pack to AOE, yes, indeed, so good and so grand that they decided to center it entirely around it. There are four campaigns, just like in its source. However, they are considerably shorter. They cover a great deal of the history, and include Hannibal and his elephants, Spartacus and his gladiator rebellion(and care to take a guess as to what their Wonder is? Come on, you can do it, it starts with a C, and ends with -um), and Caesar, who gets to veni, vidi *and* vici(yeah, I know the grammar is messed up, I technically speaking can't use them like that), and who you get to control multiple times, on horseback. While it isn't as long, and less connected and concentrated, this can certainly still make for a lot of time spent on it. Some of the missions are unique and memorable, like the one that Archimedes is in, and his inventions(dread those towers), and the one where you cross the Alps. The objectives are also sometimes very different from typical ones. The level design in general is rather nice, no complaints there. This picks up right after the end of the first in difficulty, though the five possible settings are there from before, and you can tell from the very beginning. The "look" is changed to fit, and more music is added, some of which is less tranquil(but doesn't ruin the easy-going mood)than the ones that still remain from the game itself. The sound is just about invariably a positive aspect, meanwhile, most of it *is* reused from...yeah. The LOD is still impressive. I didn't see any cut-scenes in this beyond the opening logos, that are exactly the same as last time around, although to be fair, there could be one right after them, it refuses to show that on my machine. That brings me to the fact that you can actually run this, and it's predecessor, on a relatively recently purchased computer, and it, at least for me, doesn't lag except for during loading, saving, and starting up the next track. There are new units in this, such as the immensely fitting, and tactically useful, Slinger, trained at the Barracks, who uses... that one should be obvious, to hurl rocks(and for that reason, of course, costs a little Stone) at enemies, and with his speed and range, he is useful against missile-firing opponents. On account of being able to get them so very early, before even constructing an Archery Range, the overall strategy is changed, if possibly only slightly(honestly, perhaps there are no real changes to that, on a larger scale, from what was put in this, in that area). Added are the Camel, that moves fast and carries a rider armed with a sword, and the Fire Galley, the accuracy and authenticity of which I can't quite confirm... how exactly would they keep the boat, itself, from catching the blaze and burn to the... uh, surface of the sea(yes, that would be as opposed to "the ground")? And did they have anything resembling a flamethrower that far back? Ah, I appear to have digressed. There are Upgrades and Research in this that hasn't seen the light of day until this, either. Under the aforementioned is, for example, the Tower Shield, improving the armor of the men, and the latter holds, for example, Martyrdom, instant Conversion, at the cost of the life of the Priest(and requiring something that was lazily implemented and comes off as being a last-minute thought). There are improvements made over the prior title, that this follows. Let me highlight two. The queue system, allowing you to have one building produce the same thing continually, so you don't have to manually tell it each and every time, letting it be somewhat automated and less in need of the awful and pervasive hand-holding that is among the worst, and limited amount of negative, things about these. The other is the arguably equally helpful double click feature, that simply put means that you can select all immediately visible, within the screen's range, military of a specific kind, or Villagers, by pressing twice on any of them in succession. Unfortunately, many things are not addressed, and if not watched closely, your people *will* get lost(if not as often as before), and not realize that no, they can not, as a matter of fact, cross the sea on foot, sail across where there, oh I don't know, *isn't water*, walk directly up or down mountains, or walk directly through objects. And catapults, even on your own side, are far too big a problem, as they have remarkably poor judgment(then again, who exactly *is* manning them, how much brain power can you expect from mere wood? Now, if anything should happen to me soon after I've submitted this review, please don't rule out that my furniture attacked me in a fit of revenge...thus effectively disproving my theory about their smarts), and mercilessly slaughter their allies, and I swear to you, if it were physically possible, they would manage to destroy even *themselves* with the(and the occasional...not) all-too-well-aimed shots. Oh, they'd *find* a way. The historically inspired... everything, is also present here. The multi-player is worth a lot, and may be the best this has to offer, albeit hardly enough to justify getting this beyond just the one that set off the franchise, or, for the critical who want it polished further, skipping them both and going straight to the sequel(some might go all the way to III... I am not one of them). The civilizations have abilities to help make them all interesting, and it won't be precisely the same if you play as another one, and plentiful hours can pass in entertainment in this, as well. I recommend this mainly to those who enjoyed the original enormously, and who want every incarnation of the series. Everyone else, consider if this is a must-have. 7/10
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