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SummaryBrilliant! Up until its sequel, the best RTS ever made.
The GoodAge of Empires got me hooked on real-time strategy games. It was Ensemble Studios' first game; they put a lot of hard work into making it just right, and they succeeded brilliantly. The graphics are breathtaking and the units are plentiful and unique. Resources are balanced; sometimes hard to come by, but never impossible.
The campaigns are perfect! I didn't like the sequel's campaigns much at all, unfortunatly; I still play these sometimes. The cutscenes in between them are stunning, comparable with Blizzard's work IMO, and the stories are captivating. But the maps for them are perfect! They are challenging but balanced, with resources in key spots and enemies in just the right places to make it hard just when you thought it was gonna be easy. You'll really need to use your head to win them, unlike some other, very simple RTSs. Ground troops, flankers, bowmen, seige weapons and war boats all have their places, and they are all neccessary at some time or another.
The BadStone is just about impossible to come by if you squander it early on. They fixed this in Age of Kings, by the way.
There is also a bug with the AI-- if you have two priests trying to convert a unit at the same time, it can't decide which one to attack and will just freeze. So under the right conditions, the game gets dangerously easy. On a larger scale, this could have pretty much ruined the playability of the game, but it's only an annoyance as it is ('cause the enemies normally come by with buddies who chop your priest into mincemeat when he gets near enough to convert). Also fixed in the sequel.