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Age of Empires - PC

by Microsoft
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews) 83 / 100

Price: $39.99
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Platform: PC

Frequently Bought Together

Age of Empires - PC + Age of Empires 2: Gold Edition - PC + Age Of Empires Collector's Edition (Limited Edition)
Price for all three: $58.74

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Product Details

Platform: PC
  • Shipping: This item is also available for shipping to select countries outside the U.S.
  • ASIN: B00001LDC8
  • Media: Video Game
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,232 in Video Games (See Top 100 in Video Games)
  • Discontinued by manufacturer: Yes

Product Description

Platform: PC


How will you rule the world? Conquer enemy civilizations? Discover the world's secrets? Accumulate wealth? As the guiding spirit of a Stone Age tribe, follow one of these paths to build the greatest civilization on earth. Age of Empires is a real-time strategy game, spanning ten thousand years, in which players are the guiding spirits in the evolution of a small Ice Age tribe. Starting with minimal resources, players are challenged to build their tribes into great civilizations and choose from one of several ways to win the game, including world domination by conquering enemy civilizations, exploration of the "known" world, and economic victory through the accumulation of wealth.


When you first play Age of Empires, a warm feeling develops in your gut. Warcraft meets Civilization! Real-time empire-building! And does it ever look sharp and feel right.

But an uneasy feeling builds as you get deeper into it, a sense that all is not quite right. This is not quite the game you hoped for. Even worse, it has some definite problems. The pitfall when you review a game as anticipated and debated as this one is to make sure you criticize it for what it is, not for what you wish it was. I wish that Age of Empires was what it claimed to be - Civilization with a Warcraft twist. Instead, it is Warcraft with a hint of Civilization. That's all well and good, but it places it firmly in the action-oriented real-time combat camp, rather than in the high-minded empire-building of Civilization. The result is Warcraft in togas, with slightly more depth but a familiar feel.

Age of Empires places you on a map in an unexplored world, provides a few starting units, and lets you begin building an empire. Each game unfolds the same way. You begin with a town center and some villagers. The villagers are the basic laborers, and the town center enables you to build more of them and expand your settlement. The villagers are central to AOE: they gather resources, build structures, and repair units and buildings. Resources come in four forms: wood, food, stone, and gold. A certain amount of each is consumed to build various units and buildings, research new technology, and advance a civ to the next age.

There is no complex resource management or intricate economic model at work here. What you have is the same old real-time resource-gathering in period garb, with four resources instead of one or two. As your civ advances, you develop greater needs for these resources, but the way in which they are gathered and used becomes only marginally more complex (certain research can cause faster harvesting or more production). It appears on the surface to be a complex evocation of the way early civs gathered and used materials, but beneath the hood is the same old "mine tiberium, buy more stuff than the other guys" model. It is the first hint that AOE is a simple combat game rather than a glorious empire-builder.

There's no denying the thrill the first time a villager chucks a spear at an antelope and spends several minutes hacking meat from its flank with a stone tool. This is the level of detail that brings an empire-building game to life. If only those villagers would grow and develop over the course of the game, it would make it so much more interesting. If only they would trade in their loincloths for some britches and maybe some orange camouflage, and switch from spears to arrows and rifles. Yes, that's another game, but it could easily have been done in AOE, and why it wasn't is a mystery.

The problem is that while enemy AI is savvy and aggressive (it can afford to be since it appears to cheat with resources), your units are bone-stupid. Path-finding is appallingly botched, with units easily getting lost or stuck. There is a waypoint system, but that hardly makes up for the fact that your units have trouble moving from point A to point B if you don't utilize it. Military units will stand idly by while someone a millimeter away is hacked to pieces. They respond not at all to enemy incursion in a village and wander aimlessly in the midst of battle. Was this deliberate so that the gamer needed to spend more time in unit management? If so, it was a poor idea, since there is simply too much going on midgame to worry about whether your military is allowing itself to be butchered in one corner of the map while you are aggressively tending to a battle in another portion.

AOE obviously is sticking close to an early-empire motif, and there's nothing at all wrong with that. Stone, Tool, Bronze, and Iron are the four ages, and with each come new structures and military units. You don't earn these advanced ages - you buy them with resources. Advancement is a simple matter of hoarding and spending food and gold. The overall welfare of your state is irrelevant as long as it survives: happiness is not measured, trade is barely modeled, and the state exists merely to produce a military machine to crush everyone else on the map. Naval power has a woefully unbalancing effect upon gameplay, with a strong navy able to shred the competition at the expense of reality.

Micromanagement is the name of the game in AOE. There is no unit queue, and to build five villagers, you need to build one, wait, build another, and so on. With units acting so stupidly, you should be able to set their level of aggression and the manner in which they attack (a la Dark Reign), but that is also not an option. Diplomacy is relegated to tribute and nothing more, and alliances are hard to form. You can be allied, neutral, or at war with other civs, but if the radio button is still set to "allied" when an opponent starts firing on your units, your units will not fire back, defend themselves, or even flee. They will just be destroyed. Cues as to exactly what's happening on the map are obscure; the duty has been relegated to unrelated sound effects. Does that bugle call mean my building is finished being built, or my units are under attack? How about some help, people? Victory conditions can also be irritating. There are several campaigns that require that specific goals be met, and these quickly grow tiresome. Thankfully, there is an excellent custom generator that lets you set map size, starting tech, resources, and other features. This is the saving grace of AOE, and what kept me coming back again and again. The main reason is that it let me change some of the insane default victory requirements, such as when the victor is the first to build a "wonder" (through another massive consumption of resources) that stands for 2000 years. These 2000 years can pass in about twenty minutes of game time. That means that as soon as an opponent builds a wonder, you create a whacking huge navy to go over and blow it up. Not a very subtle way to maintain an empire. In fact, there is no strategic nuance: It is merely a brawny muscle contest.

If all these judgments seem harsh, it is only because Age of Empires looked, and pretends, to be so very much more. It still has tons of potential and a fundamental gameplay that remains entertaining enough to overcome the flaws and merit a fair rating. The system can go very far with some fine-tuning, but as it stands it seems downright schizo. Is it a simplified Civilization or a modestly beefed up Warcraft? It's almost as if the designers started out to create one game and ended up with another. With such beautiful production and the fundamentals of a vastly entertaining game, it's sad that it fell short of the mark. The disappointment is not merely with what AOE is, but with what it failed to be. --T. Liam McDonald
Copyright ©1998 GameSpot Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of GameSpot is prohibited. -- GameSpot Review

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect March 11, 2003
Platform for Display:PC
The Age of Empires, Age of Kings, Age of Mythology series is definitely the best ever sires of real time strategy games. In all versions of the game you are allowed to control both the armies and economies of your nation. You can build buildings, creature soldiers or peasants, even priests. Your peasants you command to do the different menial tasks such as farming, mining, and building castles. While your armies roam the land either defending your peasants, sieging enemy castles, or raiding their peasants. Priest have the power to convert both peasants and soldiers. If you like being king of the world, this is for you. Finally, I just want to differentiate between the games. Age of Empires is the oldest of the games and should run on any computer, but I wouldn't recommend the game without either the Rise of Rome Expansion Pack or just buying the Age of Empires Gold Edition. These two correct many problems with the original Age of Empires. Next game up the latter for medium computers is Age of Kings (that's what I'm still playing.) It can run on just about any computer with sixty four megs of ram and a two hundred megahertz processor. I use it on a five hundred megahertz and a one point four gigahertz. Next game up is the Age of Mythology. This introduces a whole new realm of playing to the sires. This one you civilization chooses different gods to worship and is given power from them. Unfortunately you only get two really spectacular god powers each game and you can only use them once, but then it keeps the game to more strategy and less luck and wildcards. (It is fun to get the wildcards when you have them though!) This game should have a processor of I would say at least a six hundred and a graphics card at least thirty two megabytes; and lastly this is not the game for everybody. Read more ›
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Beautiful August 13, 2000
Platform for Display:PC
Age of Empires, in my view, is a perfect strategy game. What else can you expect from the creators of DOS, Windows 3.1, 95, 98 and 2000 (That would be Microsoft of course :))
Ok we'll start with the playabilty. I don't think there's any game or series I have played more than AoE. The possibilites are endless... what about a deathmatch with victory conditions set to conquest for a huge game. Add a little twist... pick large islands for your map type and barricade your island by building watch towers and a wall all around it. Oh, and then build up a mighty fleet of juggernauts (ships) and attack by sea. Or how about choosing eight player mode and allying with a few of them, then unselecting the Fixed Positions option and placing your civilization next to your allies. For a touch of reality why not play Persians versus Greeks? I could go on forever...
Then we have graphics and audio. The graphics are beautiful, the objects are solid so you don't get that annoying "soldier walking right through tree" effect. This game is not new so that's quite an achievement. The colors are bright, not dull or depressing. Audio, well could be better. The units' vocabulary is limited to gibberish like "Hamas" and "Hoyo". But I guess that's because they're prehistoric and don't have languages. AoE 2 fixes that problem with real phrases from over a dozen languages. Repetitive backround music plays continuously.
What else? As it is not new, it runs perfectly without 3DFX, and a Pentium 200 PC is more than enough. A fast CD Rom is personally recommended because it used to freeze up for a couple of seconds occasionally.
As for the CONS I'd have to say: The population limit. The limited audio. The initial difficulty of moving through the Ages.
That's it. Get this game if you like strategy!!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Platform for Display:PC
Age of Empires is a real-time stragity game where you control a civilization and have to turn it into an empire. You start with a shappy building and a man dressed in deer skin, and upgrade, build, and reaserch into an empire.
The graphics are OK, but could use some work. They do have good things when a villager is working, or a catapult catapulting, but not that impressive. From 1 to 10, I would rate the graphics 4.
I have 9 words about this. DO NOT PLAY MULIPLAYER WITH A SLOW INTERNET CONNECTION. It is painfull. The players go VERY slow and do not have a chance at winning. Unless you have a DSL or LAN, do NOT use multiplayer.
The Map Maker is a very good addition to AOE. It has the normal units and buildings, as well as special units that can only be made from the Map Maker. Overall, I would rate the map maker 8. ...
Thank you! I hope this review was helpful, and if not, I appoligize!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars rip off August 22, 2013
Platform for Display:PC|Verified Purchase
Only one disc came in the box. I installed the game, and then tried to play a single player game (the only type I'm really interested in). The message on the screen said that in order to play a single player game, I had to insert the play disc. The only disc I received was in the drive. I tried several times, tried reinstalling, turning the computer on and off, the usual stuff - same message. Insert play disc. WTF? Total rip off.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic game! December 29, 2002
Platform for Display:PC
Age Of Empires is a classic strategy game. It was one of the first I'd ever bought, and I got hooked. I have played every possible scenario and made a hundred scenarios myself.
Everything about this game is brilliant - the campaigns are great, the random map is cool but my absolute favourite part of the game is the death match - I LOVE how you get 10,000 wood, gold, stone and food, it means you don't need to gather supplies you just can get right into building up your army.
My favourite thing to do in any match, is kill off the enemy. I just love destroying everything! I'm not happy unless everything is destroyed.
I like playing multiplayer and making my own scenarios (it's a laugh writing in the instructions and hints etc), but it gets kind of boring after awhile. But this doesn't draw away from the game itself.
I love all the units, all the buildings and I'm in LOVE with the music. The soundtrack to this game is AMAZING. I love to use cheats I get off the net, it makes the game even more fun.
Overall, a CLASSIC game that every strategy game enthusiast needs to play or own at one stage.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
It arrived in pristine condition and a fair price!
Published 1 month ago by Wesley Drummond
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
it would not play on windows 7 computer
Published 3 months ago by Bruce R Perkins
5.0 out of 5 stars Arrived Before Anticipated Date
Pretty excited to play this game again, used to have it but it got scratched up from so much use. It's a little pricey but I love this game so it's worth the money. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Darrian
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
Package came brand new and sooner than the expected date. Couldn't be more pleased! My husbands favorite game ever it's hat to get him away from it.
Published 13 months ago by Maggie Thompson
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Game
Best game and not compatible for upgraded versions of Windows such as Vista and 7, 8.. But this is very good on older computers. Buy this game and you will love it.
Published 21 months ago by GrummSports
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Item
Came in perfect. I love this game. I look forward to buying additional games. Came in fast and exactly how it was described. Thanks
Published 22 months ago by Barry Sterling
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it
I love playing this game. It's so much fun and so addictive. Probably one of the best games I've played yet.
Published on January 15, 2013 by Fel Angel
4.0 out of 5 stars Good times and good memories.
A police officer I knew got me into this game. I didn't think much of it because it was essentially the same game design as the venerable DUNE and War Craft games. Read more
Published on March 21, 2011 by Raisuli the Magnificent
3.0 out of 5 stars Age of Empires
This is an "old" game compared to current games. It is a bit slow and the features are pretty simple. Graphics don't compare to todays versions. Still it was kind of fun. Read more
Published on December 14, 2008 by P. L. Watkins
5.0 out of 5 stars As seen on the Today Show!
This computer game was originally shown as one of the top games to buy on the Today Show. It is a great game for teens and adults. Combines fun, statagy and history. Read more
Published on August 4, 2008 by K. Topaz
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