Reviewed on ZZZZZZZ


Reviewed By: Rick Casteel

Computer Platform: PC
Produced by: Microsoft
Age level: Teen

Genre: Real Time Strategy
Christian Rating: 3 of 5
   (some objectionable elements)
Gameplay: 5 of 5
Violence: 3 of 5
Adult Content: 5 of 5

Microsoft entered the real time strategy gaming arena a few years ago with the original "Age of Empires". Developer, Emsemble Studios took a different route with their offering by basing the game on actual historical cultures versus the fantasy worlds being offered by “Warcraft” and its clones. While the original “AOE” took place during ancient times, “AOE2” moves forward in history, placing the player in the period between the dark ages and imperialistic times.

“AOE2” has all the elements common to real time strategy (RTS) games. The player starts with just a few resources and must build an empire to win the game. You control the gathering of resources, development of land and buildings, assign your countrymen roles and decide your path to success. The most intriguing element of “AOE” is to play as one of several actual middle age cultures. Each of the 13 cultures provided has unique strengths and weaknesses that determine the best tactics for play. You must gather your resources, develop your empire and its forces, expand your realm and deal with competing cultures over the course of the game.

The game play is first rate RTS. Selecting units, grouping them, path finding, following commands all seem to work flawlessly. One helpful feature allows you to see when a worker has become idle so you can get him back to work! Of course one of the elements you must deal with in the game is war. Even though in some cultures, the way to victory in the game is to develop your civilization to the point of supporting the construction of a “Wonder” of the world, you must at the least defend your country from attack from others. Though there are opportunities for cooperation among nations, ultimately the powerful rule. Here is a truism Christians can be comforted by [Rev 17:14] "These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful" the true victory lies with Jesus and those who follow him!"

There is also a multiplayer feature that lets players connect via the Internet, modem or LAN. The game lets you play against each other or join forces and compete against the computer. This gives the game a long life span, far beyond playing through the given scenarios and cultures.

War is depicted with realistic sounds and pools of blood in the path of battle. Though not up close and gory, numerous bodies can be left in the wake of a large confrontation. Bodies eventually fade off screen in just a few seconds so there is never a lingering depiction of death. There are no adult themes as described in our ratings system.

With first rate graphics, realistic historical scenarios, great scripted intelligence and engaging game play, “AOE II” is the King of the RTS kingdom, for now!

"…many positive features that make it a mind challenge as well as educational … Overall I give this game an 82% (B-) for its educational and problem solving values."
   —John Gocke, - Al Menconi Ministries

Having extensively played this game on a hardcore multiplayer level, I have not found anything that can compare to its tactical and strategical depth. I agree there are one or two features that could have been cleaner, or more in line with God's word, but this game will not get u into the occult, sci fi, violent behaviour etc. The best feature by far is the wonderful multiplayer via the internet capability, which forms the basis of giant online communities. Becoming part of such a community has it's ups and downs, but overall exponentially increases the entertainment found in this game. A warning though, this game can be addictive, simply because it depicts the history of our world so accurately and allows you to realistically shape and change it by your own actions. I have spent at least 5000 hours or more on this game, and when compared to competing titles like Westwood's Red Alert 2 and Blizzard's Starcraft, it is by far the safest choice for any family. If you are new to this game, it takes a while to get “into” the feel, but once you have reached a certain level of skill in the game, very few other digital activity can compare with the good clean fun it provides. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did, My Ratings: [5/5]
   —Tobie van der Spuy, age 18

My husband and I both love this game! Normally, I don't like war-type games. However, this game has something for everyone. While my dh can strategize how to conquest neighboring civilizations (is this a male thing?), I like to form alliances and defend my land while my villagers collect resources to build a wonder. Neat graphics, some violence…may be disturbing for young children to see, since military figures die. Challenging game! My Ratings: [3/5]
   —Tiare S., age 24

Comments from Young People…

I have played this game at my cousin's and friend's house, and I highly recommend this game. The only negative things about it there is a little blood when a person or an animal dies, and that there are priestess that can heal your men, and convert enemy soldiers and weapons, and that there are cheat codes that let you get Mustangs with bazookas, and space guys with powerful lazer guns. My Ratings: [4/5]
   —Vince Matesi, age 12

…There is nothing wrong with this game. It allows you to experience life in that time, in a time when a military was a necessity. …This game is fun and I encourage anyone to purchase it. My Ratings: [5/5]
   —Jw, age 15

I really liked this game! It's challenging, fun, and real easy to pick up and go. They have a real nice tutorial for you, so you can learn very easily if your new to RTS (as I was), or strategy games in general (I had been playing Civilization for years). Good graphics, great gameplay, the whole historical thing (I love history and did learn things from this, especially in the special history section, where you can learn about each civ., and other medieval things), and that you can win in other ways than killing everybody else off (building a wonder or capturing all the relics), all make this great. But there is some other stuff that make this not so great. The violence is not too bad (I didn't think), but there are the decaying bodies/skeletons left over after a battle. Also the monks can heal your troops by waving his staff at them, and can “convert” other countries troops to your side, again by waving his staff and chanting (they don't actually say anything understandable, but you can tell they're chanting) at them. Overall, a good game except for thse few things. I give it an A-. My Ratings: [4/5]
   —B.J., age 13

This is a great game. I like it because you have to use stratagy in order to win. Also it's real time history component is a definite plus. Getting back to stratagy, stratagy most of the time includes warfare. I remember one time I made an alliance with somebody, sent in all my military through their gates (which you can only do if you're allied with the person who owns the gate), cancel the alliance, and counquer them (he-he-he)… My Ratings: [4/5]
   —Marc Perry, age 14

This game is so fun—unbelievably fun. I love this game. I'm not sure why. Maybe it is because the graphics are next to perfect for an isometric game. Maybe it is because the awesome gameplay makes it one of the most entertaining and addictive games I've ever played. Maybe it is because the game is downright fun. I don't know why. The violence is not overly-done. It's just realistic. When someone gets stabbed, he bleeds. It's simple physics. If a little violence doesn't bother you, I don't see any reason for any gamer not to love "Age of Kings". My Ratings: [3/5]
   —Mark Arndt, age 16

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Christian Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Films for Christ or the Christian Answers Network.

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