First came Age of Empires (Game of the Year 1997), closely followed by an add-on to increase the time span to encompass civilisation from its very dawn to the dominance of the Roman Empire. Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings covers the post-Roman Middle Ages--the Conquerors add-on provided the conquistadors and Attila the Hun.
These Microsoft games are a tour de force of exploration, organisation and, of course, battle campaigns. Along the way your population must construct buildings and boats, and learn to trade and make technological advances. Manuals for all four games are included, plus fold-out charts with wonderful artwork of the tools, weapons and personnel at your disposal ("I'll take an onager, some fervour and a brace of heavy camels today, please").
This well-presented Collector's Edition would make an excellent gift for anyone with a penchant for epic games who has so far, inexplicably, missed this series. But it also represent good value for those with an incomplete set and the ultimate collectable indulgence for serious fans because, unique to this collector's edition, is a sound track CD of surprisingly cool mood music taken from the games. --Mark Whitehorn
Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings starts the player out in the Dark Ages, roughly when Age of Empires ends. The goal remains the same: use advanced technology and troops to establish your civilisation's dominance. But now the player has better toys: each of the 13 civilisations have unique buildings, soldiers and advantages. The Teutons have Knights, for instance, while the Vikings have Berserkers. Winning the game requires military dominance or the construction of wonders of the world. The single-player game is fun, but most players love Age of Empires 2 for its wildly popular multiplayer component. Thousands of civilisations rise and fall every day as gamers around the world compete in matches over the Internet.
This bundle includes Age of Empires: Gold Edition, containing the originalAge of Empires and Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome Expansion, plus Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings and Age of Empires II: The Conqueror's Expansion. The bundle is great for fans of the series to have all of the titles in one place; and for newbies it is less expensive than buying all the titles separately.
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