AGE OF EMPIRES 4 REVIEW
In 2003, the BBC2 show Time Commanders inadvertently used the strategy game Rome: Total War as the foundation for its entire high concept: to allow ordinary people to take on military leaders in famous historical battles. Each campaign mission in Age of Empires 4 is driven by documentary narration and bookended by featurettes on topics ranging from the supremacy of the English longbow to the tactical application of Mongolian whistling arrows. The inclusion of Time Commanders in Total War was never intended, but AOE 4 appears to have been designed specifically for a BBC edutainment slot.
Here, the primary focus is a polished real-time strategy (RTS) game with sharp presentation and sound design that strikes a deft balance between accessibility and complexity. However, unless you plan to invest heavily in the competitive game (or have Game Pass), the package comes at a high cost.
While Age of Empires 4 succeeds in evoking nostalgic memories of unloading a heavily armored Persian pachyderm war machine deep in enemy territory, it also makes little effort to venture outside of its comfort zone. It’s assured but familiar, relying on what works rather than breaking new strategy genre.
Age of Empires 4 is an evolution of Age of Empires 2 and retains many of the game’s mechanics. So, for better or worse, AOE4 doesn’t move the RTS genre forward. Instead, it provides a polished, modernized version of what has kept users returning to Age of Empires after all these years.
Age Of Empires 4 Campaigns
Age of Empires 4 campaigns have a lot of love put into them. There are four of these, and players can travel through history with the English, Normans, Mongols, and Rus civilizations. However, it is told from an impersonal point of view, with a narrator. This means that each campaign has a clinical feel, which may not be to everyone’s liking.
The game, on the other hand, embraces it with unlockable mini-documentaries for trebuchets and bows. It’s pretty nice for history buffs, and you can tell the developers spent a lot of time making sure their portrayal of the events was accurate and informative. However, it lacks the drama and visceral depictions found in recent historical productions.
Age Of Empires: Cons
The campaign establishes the tone for the rest of the package, and there’s nothing new in Age of Empires 4. That is not to say the game is of poor quality or is not worthwhile to play. On the contrary, it’s a fantastic real-time strategy game. The problem is that Age of Empires 2 exists, and it’s a tremendous game that just received a new expansion this month. So, what does Age of Empires 4 bring to the table that its predecessors did not? Surprisingly, not much.
Age of Empires 4 is not a bad game. It was a lot of fun for me. Its main issue is that it plays it too safe. It tries so hard to emulate the success of Age of Empires 2 that it never really establishes its own identity.
I hope that in the future, the developers will expand on the asymmetrical civilizations and focus on mechanics that advance the Age of Empires franchise. There’s a strong foundation here, and if built correctly, it could lead to something special. For the time being, it’s too old school for its own good.
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