Age of Empires 2 HD Review

Insights and Strategies

I immediately think of the elderly stars of Hollywood, who have been brought back into the spotlight. Not the lively gray-haired veterans, whose wrinkles mark the honorable years of service to the industry, not the glamorous divas who can still hit high C. No, I’m talking about the truly ancient ones, the ones squinting, trying to see something, not understanding why they have been pushed back into the public eye. The ones who can’t speak on talk shows, the ones who no longer sing on stage, but just stand there, swaying.

It’s hard to say in advance what games will be like in old age, although many look dignified for their age. Some classics have found new life and a new audience on mobile devices, which in recent years have eagerly embraced anything that can be called retro, remembering the oldest representatives of the old school, eagerly snatched up by the rapidly growing indie scene. Sometimes we like old games. Well, or those that seem old.

Age of Empires 2 was released in 1999 and, thus, carries the weight of a significant 14 years. The game was already considered a classic in its time, in the era of Spice Girls and Star Wars: Episode 1, and it sold millions of copies. And now it has been reincarnated with an HD release on Steam. The most important thing you need to know about Age of Empires 2 HD is that its resolution is much higher than in the original game. Essentially, that’s almost all you need to know about it.

What does HD really give is more large -scale battles

What HD really provides is more epic battles.

Developers Hidden Path seem to have gone back in time and taken the original game from there, quickly dusting it off before selling it. And I have no idea why they did it. Unless they decided to make a profit from this nostalgic tsunami that has engulfed the gaming industry. Whatever their motives may be, the result is the same: Age of Empires 2 HD is more of a museum exhibit than a reimagining or rebirth.

If you have never played the original, here’s a brief history lesson. It’s a classic real-time strategy game, a war where everything is controlled by the mouse, and a single movement can send legions of soldiers to their death. Non-combat units gather natural resources in villages and castles, helping blacksmiths equip more and more fighters. You can play as multiple factions, almost anything you want, and you can upgrade or expand, advancing your buildings and units through different eras, all viewed from an isometric perspective.

Now, continuing our lesson, let’s remember some other aspects that RTS games of that time boasted about: rudimentary animation, simplified AI, clunky pathfinding, limited multiplayer. The idea of a reissue is to focus on improving most of these aspects of the game, but the only significant changes are visual: the field of view is larger, the water shines brighter, and the battles are slightly noisier. If not for these changes, the game would be exactly the same as it was at the end of the last millennium. The strategy genre has come a long way in these years, and what were once notable strengths now look like archaeological artifacts. Playing this game is no longer interesting, and its flaws have become even more apparent.

Units move very awkwardly and sometimes go back to their wakes

Units move very clumsily and sometimes walk back on their own tracks.

After selecting a group of soldiers and sending them into battle, they line up in a cute queue and march towards the front, sometimes turning around for no apparent reason. And when they reach enemy buildings and destroy them, they don’t exactly collapse, but rather just disappear. To clear a field, the soldiers stand in the middle and start slashing the ground with their swords. It’s a bit painful to watch. Any infantry group immediately turns into a monotonous mess, among which only a covered siege weapon usually stands out, rolling towards the nearest tower and sticking into its base like a small, worried shed on wheels.

Age of Empires 2 is still played to this day, mainly in multiplayer, and it’s easy to understand why. It sold millions of copies, has many features, including the ability to create random maps and organize team games. However, this reissue has many problems: the game often crashes regardless of players’ ping. Moreover, you will most likely experience terrible lag, with units reacting to your commands after about half a second. After. You. Gave. Them. This makes battles jerky and joyless.

And it’s a shame because the community that plays it is incredibly patient and friendly. I joined 20 different games in 40 minutes, often with the same people on the same servers, and my companions were always balanced and willing to help. At least some compensation for the time I spent wandering from lobby to lobby.

Drive your civilization through centuries and observe how everything becomes more and more ... stone

Lead your civilization through the centuries and observe how everything becomes more… stone-like.

Age of Empires 2 HD is not a bad game, it just became outdated over time. The new resolution allows you to look at it from a distance, where you can’t see all its flaws – but the difference in the end is minimal. It’s boring to play in single player mode and almost impossible in multiplayer. The only consolation can be found in the support of the Steam Workshop, where there are already several new house designs from players who didn’t like how the farms looked.

I would just warn you, if Age of Empires 2 HD was nothing more than a remake of an old game, inviting you to play it again. But since they are trying to sell it as a serious reissue, and even asking for $12 for it, I will wave a red flag and shout. Through a megaphone. Handcuffed to Steam, like a protester demanding the removal of an old policeman. There is absolutely no reason to spend money on this overgrown moldy time capsule, which will most likely ruin your memories of the original. This time, it’s better to leave the classic alone.

Age of Empires II: HD Edition
Multiplayer, Strategy
Microsoft Studios
Ensemble Studios, Hidden Path Entertainment
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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