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The civilizations are diverse, running the gamut from the Assyrians to the Persians to the Yamato, and each can be played from its Stone Age roots to the epoch of its greatest achievements. This is one of the few games in this genre that lets players choose either an aggressive path or a more peaceful defensive course of action, as it is possible to win many games by defending your border and building an expensive Wonder of the World.
Overall, the game's graphics are very good, but special mention must be made of the animations. At last, horses move like horses, elephants move like elephants, and even the sight of a villager chopping wood looks realistic. Battles can get a little out of hand since the game lacks military formation controls, but they are a sight to behold nonetheless.
Should you tire of the single-player challenges, Age of Empires is still very popular online. It isn't hard to join a multiplayer game at nearly any time of day. Be sure to grab the latest patch, which lets you build many more units and is necessary for playing online. Even if you already have Age of Empires 2, don't miss out on the game that started it all. --T. Byrl Baker