The Big Think

June 27, 2007

Empire

Filed under: Games — jasony @ 12:23 am

I picked up Age of Empires: The Age of Kings for the Nintendo DS last week. It was in the bargain bin for only $14.99 and at first I thought nah, can’t be any good for that price. I passed on it but when I got home I called it up online to read the reviews. I was surprised to see that the reviewers gave it high marks (8.5-9.0 generally), so asked Erin to pick it up on her way home from work.

That was last week and I’ve been playing it obsessively on and off every day. It’s a totally addictive turn based adaptation of the original real-time genre. It’s similar to Advance Wars but much deeper, with a massive unit tree, lots of buildings to construct, and a huge age-based research tree to plod through. Each of the five civilizations and four “Ages” have a ton of researchable technologies that have far reaching effects on gameplay. The tutorial lessons alone took me almost 10 hours! There’s wireless play (though, unfortunately, no internet play ala Mario Kart) and hot-seat play. The graphics are SNES quality level (what do you expect from the DS?), but the game makes good use of the dual screen and the touch ability. It’s isometric in view, though, so sometimes you have to poke a bit to select your characters. Unfortunately, you can’t spin the map to make things easier to see.

I’m pretty good at multitasking seven or eight things, but my ability to see the big picture breaks down as the demands get higher, so these kinds of games are a great way to hone my ability to juggle demands on my attention. Yeah, that’s it, it’s educational. Speaking of educational, the game comes with a built in library that discusses in quite a bit of detail each of the units, ages, research topics, etc, etc, etc. There are about 50 pages alone on medieval Feudalism. It was really interesting and only adds to the depth of an already great game.

So if you’re looking for a way to pass some serious time for about the cost of a single lunch, I can heartily recommend Age of Empires: The Age of Kings.

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