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AGE OF EMPIRES IV

The Age of Empires series probably does not need any introductions. Even the younger ones, more or less, will have had a conversation, especially for the second part of the series, which in fact has been going through youth in recent years. And it was this circumstance that probably led Microsoft to highlight the series, first with the Definitive Editions and then with the announcement and release of Age of Empires IV. It remains to be seen how much this resurrection took place for the real restart of the series or it simply concerns the invocation of emotion and through nostalgia the outburst of its ubiquitous believers.

The first news we had about the title was that it would be developed by Relic. The truth is that in the beginning the memories of Dawn of War III, which was not considered a successful sequel to the whole series, crossed my mind. But then I remembered all those unique moments that the Canadians have given us, so I decided to lie down in my chair and wait stoically for the day of the title release. One thing was for sure, nothing would be the same as before.

Mongol scouts watching over China's walls during Age of Empires IV's campaign
Overlooking at our new lands

Or maybe not. From the outset, it is clear that Age of Empires IV is taking steps back to meet AoE II. And this is not just about the time period in which it takes place, namely the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Commercially it seems right, but on the other hand so many years later we were all expecting something more groundbreaking. Even the choice of presenting almost the same campaigns as we saw twenty years ago shows that this is more of a redesign of AoE II than a clear AoE IV. Of course there are means and elements of AoE III as well as some new ideas, but they are not enough to blur the waters enough and therefore to convince us. However, let us eat a humble pie, take a step back and move on to the game to see what it's all about.

As we all expected, Relic's typical ideas for what a strategy game is, as she presented it to us in Company of Heroes and Dawn of War are here. Starting from the diversity of cultures, something that profoundly affects the gameplay, as well as the way we interact with the game environment and the laws of physics that govern it. Elements that are now considered an asset in modern Real Time Strategies, but which we did not have in the series, due to it’s age and as expected, cause pleasant impressions.

Age of Empires IV city overview with economy buildings
When productivity hits red!

In cultures, it seems that the model of fewer nations but at the same time well done, succeeded. So we are dealing with 8 different nations, equally divided between Asia and Europe. Everyone has a variety of unique options to choose from, whether it's the military, the economics or the research on unique technologies. What completes the overall assessment even better is the fact that the above design is based on the central culture of each nation. For example, the British specialize in longbows. The French to the iron-clad noble knights. The Holy Roman Empire, although neither a Saint, nor a Roman, nor an Empire, proposes its heavy infantry supported by the fiery speeches of its priests. But where the game really changes everything is up to the Mongols, who as nomads can literally pack everything up and migrate to any corner of the map they want, while also transferring their financial infrastructure, just as it did during the great expansionist wars of the Khans.

Age of Empires IV campaign menu
The menu of the new campaigns suspiciously reminds us something from older times

Our choices are classic. Skirmish either against the computer or against other online players and of course the four available campaigns. And something really unique happened there. First of all, the story is presented through videos that remind us of augmented reality, putting us directly in the atmosphere of each era. The battlefields, in their current state, are enriched by digital soldiers and fortifications, while there are also scenes where actors are used and the performances catch fire. And to complete the puzzle, after each battle we are presented with a part of the military life of the time, whether it concerns their armament, their way of life, or the existing technology. In general, the whole presentation is reminiscent of a high-budget documentary, so in addition to the fun, we can say that Age of Empires IV acquires, as usual for the series, a didactic character.

York castle with CGI soldiers besieging it during Age of Empires IV's cinematic
Ideas for some reenactment

In terms of campaigns so far we have the English from the founding of their kingdom by William the Conqueror to the War of the Barons. The Hundred Years' War on the French side, the expansionist wars of the Mongols as well as the rise of the Russians and the founding of Muscovy. Theoretically, we have seen 3/4 of the above before, but in practice the new way of presentation and the way in which we are called to carry out the respective mission raise the final experience very high. Especially in cases of siege, the new mechanics of the game catch fire. A balance has thus been struck between the challenges of managing inanimate and inanimate material and in more classic cases where we are simply building a base and launching our attacks.

And after the Campaign were radically renewed and became a real work of art, Relic decided to carve out the pure gameplay with its own touch. This has to do with the interaction of the units and the natural environment of the map as well as the stone walls. In the first part, a fairly clever system has been introduced where we can set ambushes by hiding our troops in forests, or cover them from enemy fire behind fortifications and other natural obstacles. In the second part, a dream came true and now our soldiers can man the walls of our city. This possibility can lead the battle to an epic siege with archers throwing burst arrows and hot oils burning the siege rams.

Units waiting to ambush the enemy in the woods
Walking in the forest, walking in the forest...

If nothing else it was something that was missing from the series and helped it acquire a more epic and at the same time realistic character. Of course, all of the above, as useful as they may seem in the single player part, can also end up in the multiplayer as insignificant, since the rhythms there are exhausting. Especially in terms of ambushes, I did not play a single match in which someone had to set up a carter, since the game favors what we call early rush. This idea comes hand in hand with the other changes nestled by Relic and they seem to brag about it every now and then.

Bayeux Tapestry
Age of Empires in 1476

So the big drawback in terms of battles and micromanagement is that Relic has simplified some of the functions of the game by removing several options we had so far and chose to present a more fast paced title. For example, it seems to fully favor the early rush tactics, since even the first units we produce are capable of finishing a game on their own before it even starts to unfold. In addition, although there are relevant counters, with spearmen overtaking cavalry, archers light infantry and go saying in reality something completely different applies. It has been chosen to favor quantity over quality. To explain myself, in every battle I found myself crammed into, producing only cheap trash units I managed to repel any possible combination of my opponents, something that AI often takes advantage of as well. At first this goes unnoticed, but in the long run and especially in multiplayer the situation goes away, marginalizing the more expensive and theoretically more powerful units. This and the lack of some previous control features that we were used to, I dare say were the only serious problems of the title.

Of course, this simplification and the general weakening of micromanagement will be more displeasing to older players who were accustomed to a different philosophy of play. But it is definitely something that can attract a new audience much faster. Of course, with the battle so simplified, all in the end a large army will have no problem sweeping literally everything in its path, leaving the tactics aside. It only remains to be seen whether all this will stand the test of time.

Age of Empires IV english wonder
We make war so that we live in peace

In the visual field, everything is as it should be in a modern RTS, especially when the title writes Age of Empires IV on the top. The environment graphics are rich, but not so loaded that they hinder our ability to discern points of interest and unit movements in the panic of battle. Cities also have their own beauty, while they are even more beautifully get destroyed. I would definitely like a few more effects when it comes to using gunpowder, but these are literally ridges in an area where Relic excels. They masterfully manage to leave their own characteristic stamp, while keeping the previous stanza of the series visible.

Age of Empires IV town siege
Besieging the enemy town with the best siege weapon ever made!

Overall, what Age of Empires IV offers is something that was missing from modern RTSs. It combines the magic of the past with new ideas. Even if it doesn't always succeed perfectly, it still has all the elements needed to make it a classic in the history of strategy games. Relic's victory could be described as the most strategic, since it wins the war even though it lost some battles... It managed to unite two worlds. The old and the new. hers and Ensemble's. She brought a title that people continue to love to the present day and despite any missteps, she managed to present it both decently dressed and deeply cultured. And judging by Microsoft's recent past, the groundwork was laid for a bright future, full of expansions and other upgrades.

RATING

RATING - 86%

86%

Like a trebuchet!

A well-crafted and complete title capable of offering exactly what one expects from a modern RTS. And if you're not a fan of the genre, you will be!

Ilias Iakovopoulos

Raised in the Greek countryside, he was quickly captivated by the lights of his first CRT screen. As a curious and oddball, he went into the deep end early on, not always successfully. Returning to his native land he decided to take up writing, which is when he got involved with the reviews of evil video games. A self-professed medievalist, he judges everything by how many swords he can find in his path, and he has a Voodoo 2 on his head to guard him.

maximum armor

Half-Ogre
Joined
Jun 14, 2019
Messages
521
1) Αυτό που ωφελείται η ποσότητα έναντι της ποιότητας, ισχύει και στο single player;
2) Δεν υπάρχουν μονάδες "titans" (δηλαδή ογκώδεις, ανθεκτικοί και πολλή ζημιά σε κατώτερους), ή υπάρχουν αλλά μέχρι να γίνουν researched έχει τελειώσει και η πίστα;
3) Τα researches μεταφέρονται σε επόμενες πίστες;
4) Και σε συνδυασμό όλων των ανωτέρω ερωτήσεων: είναι δηλαδή δυνατό κάποια στιγμή να κάνουμε research μονάδες "titan" και να τους έχουμε μέχρι να τελειώσει το campaign;
 

Chronomancy

Todd's Minion
Staff member
Joined
Oct 8, 2013
Messages
9,181
Λογικά έχεις μπερδευτεί με την σειρά Age of Mythology

1) Ισχύει γενικά στο παιχνίδι. Για να καταλάβεις προ ολίγου έπεσα με ένα μπουλούκι από τοξότες σε ένα αντίστοιχο ιπποτών και αν και με πολύ βαριές απώλειες τους κέρδισα.
2) Κάποιες μονάδες όντως απαιτούν περισσότερο χρόνο από ότι άλλες για να τις βγάλεις στο πεδίο. Αλλά αυτός ο χρόνος δεν είναι αρκετός για να πεις ότι θα βγεις εκτός προγράμματος/πίστας. Εκτός και θες να φτιάξεις μία αρμάδα από βομβαρδιστικά πλοία και μέχρι να τελειώσεις εσύ την εκπαίδευσή τους σε έχουν πάρει φαλάγγι.
3) Αν μιλάμε για το skirmish, όχι. Στο campaign αυτό που θα συνατήσεις είναι σε ορισμένες αποστολές να ξεκινάς από μετέπειτα εποχή, κάτι που συνάδει και με την αντίστοιχη εποχή στην οποία διαδραματίζεται ένα ιστορικό γεγονός. Πχ δεν θα σε ξεκινήσει στο 13ο αιώνα από την πρώτη εποχή αλλά σε πάει απευθείας στην Imperial (τελική), με ότι αυτό συνεπάγεται για τις τεχνολογικές προόδους.
4) Όπως θα έχεις ήδη καταλάβει, όχι. Ακόμη και οι ήρωες μας, ακριβώς επειδή είναι ιστορικά πρόσωπα δεν θα τους έχουμε σε ολόκληρο το campaign. Είτε επειδή δεν έλαβαν μέρος σε κάποια μάχη, είτε επειδή δεν έζησαν για να δουν το τέλος ενός πολέμου.

Ελπίζω να σε κάλυψα
 

maximum armor

Half-Ogre
Joined
Jun 14, 2019
Messages
521
Ευχαριστώ! Είμαι από αυτούς που σε παιχνίδια στρατηγικής μένουν πίσω και μαζεύουν resources, μέχρι να βγουν "οι μεγάλοι" για μια βόλτα στην πίστα!!! :LOL:
 

Chronomancy

Todd's Minion
Staff member
Joined
Oct 8, 2013
Messages
9,181
zerg rush στο AoE? ο τεμπόρα ο μόρες!
Άστα να πάνε...
Ειδικά στο campaign όταν θέλω να ξεμπερδευω απλώς σπαμμαρω μερικούς δορυφόρους και σαρωνω τον χάρτη.

Ευτυχώς που με τα πατσάκια δείχνουν να το στρώνουν σιγά σιγά
 

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