Age of Empires

aka: Age of Empires 1, Age of Empires: An Epic Game of Empire-Building and Conquest, Age of Empires: Bâtissez votre civilization., Age of Empires: Ein Spiel über große Zivilsationen und Eroberungen, Age of Empires: Un juego épico para crear y conquistar imperios, AoE, Dawn of Man, Diguo Shidai, Microsoft Age of Empires, Tribe
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(prices updated 9/29 4:53 PM )

Description official descriptions

In Age of Empires, players are able to manage a tribe with their mouse. Command them to build houses, docks, farms, and temples. The player advances their civilization through time by learning new skills. The game allows the player to advance through the Ages: The Paleolithic (old Stone Age), the Neolithic (new Stone Age, or the Tool Age), the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age. If the player would rather get away from the historical aspect, the game offers a random terrain generator and a custom scenario builder.

The game has four resources: food, obtained by either hunting, foraging, fishing, or farming; wood, which must be logged by hand; stone, which must be mined; and gold, which can either be mined or obtained through trade with other players.

As a real-time war game, Age of Empires naturally revolves around gathering resources and producing units.


  • マイクロソフト エイジ オブ エンパイア - Japanese spelling
  • 世紀帝國 - Traditional Chinese spelling
  • 帝国时代 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

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Average score: 82% (based on 41 ratings)


Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 161 ratings with 11 reviews)

Brilliant! Up until its sequel, the best RTS ever made.

The Good
Age 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 Bad
Stone 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.

The Bottom Line
If you're wondering which RTS to get, get Age of Kings. It's better than this one in almost every way. But if you're either collecting good RTSs, or just good games, or want to see where Age of Kings got its brilliance from, look here.

Windows · by ShadowShrike (277) · 2003

Microsoft=Bad entertainment.

The Good
The historical theme is quite nice. I'm not a historian but from what I can see it is more or less correct in it's historical descriptions (although "correct" is a bad word when talking about history, because history is not about facts but how we interpret what we THINK are facts). Anyway, this gives a somewhat educational touch to the game which I quite like.

The Bad
Well, the rest, more or less. There are no obvious flaws that jump at you when you start the game. It is just so... bleak. The graphics are boring to look at, and the menus would suit some Microsoft excell-program better. The illusion that you aren't just playing around with ones and zeros aren't there at all. It really feels like a computer programe, not some "alternative" reality. In short, there is no way in which I can ever feel involved in the game and that makes it uninteresting and boring, since the game is so depressingly slow. Most strategy games are slow, but when involving even the most slow-paced game becomes exciting (civilization is an excellent example). Age of Empires is just plain boring and depressing to look at. The graphics aren't bad in that sense, the game just looks bleak and uninspired. One of the most overrated games in the history of games, since it has virtually no entertainment value at all.

The Bottom Line
Well made, but oh so uninspired and boring. Bleak, boring and bad.

Windows · by Joakim Kihlman (231) · 2004

Admirable, but not truly lovable.

The Good
The production values in Age of Empires (AOE) are simply outstanding. The graphics are quite luscious, and we're not just talking about the terrain tiles, units, and structures here. There are all kinds of brilliant little touches, from scrumptious-looking flora (palm trees, berry patches, etc.) to exotic fauna (deer, elephants, lions, crocodiles…even birds soaring overhead!).

The soundtrack is also splendid, with appropriately sweeping music and juicy sound effects (including the unit responses made popular by WarCraft II). I especially appreciated the sounding of the trumpets that alerts you to battle action occurring somewhere.

Equally impressive is the instruction manual, which not only does an adequate job of explaining the game, but is also full of historical background info on the civilizations that appear in the game. It takes me back to the glory days of MicroProse and its thick, beautifully-written and -illustrated manuals. Which makes sense, as AOE designer Bruce Shelley previously worked with Sid Meier on a few MPS classics, including the almighty-and-everlasting-king-of-them-all Civilization.

Finally, I have to admit that AOE includes a long list of features that I wanted to see in an RTS following the overwhelming success of Command & Conquer and WarCraft II. Most obvious is that the subject matter is human history, not the cheesy sci-fi/fantasy of the aforementioned games – a huge improvement in my book! There are a slew of playable civilizations instead of the then-standard two sides. There are campaigns, scenarios, and (best of all) random map and deathmatch options which generate a new playing field every time. I don't much like set scenarios and campaigns in real-time strategy games (historical wargames are another matter); I prefer the infinite variety of random maps. I'll admit right now, then, that I didn't play through all of the AOE campaigns. If I wanted to play a story, I'd get a Sierra or LucasArts adventure! Strategy games should let you make your own story, and AOE does just that.

Still, I give AOE kudos for having the scenarios/campaigns for those who want them, as well as what seems to be a quite robust editor. Same goes for the multiplayer options. I'm a solo player, so I have never used them, but they were a no-brainer to include given this type of game.

The Bad
Remarkably, once you get past all of the slick presentation and the impressive laundry list of features in AOE, you eventually discover that the actual gameplay isn't all that good.

Command and control issues are guaranteed to sink any real-time game. AOE has MAJOR issues. The unit pathfinding AI is absolutely appalling, regardless of the setting you select in the Game Options screen. As a result, the player feels more like a diaper-changing, hand-holding babysitter than a god or a general. Making matters worse, the pretty—but also pretty useless—isometric perspective can actually get in the way of selecting and moving your units.

The worker units are quick to abandon their tasks when attacked, but they don’t resume their work when the threat is over. They pretty much just stand in place, slack-jawed, presumably waiting for the Stone Age Godot. And heaven help you if your worthless workers should complete the task you assign to them, as they are usually too incompetent to take the intiative and find something productive to do with themselves.

You can build walls, but you can’t build gates. You actually have to manually delete a section of wall in order let your troops enter and leave your own compound. Give me a break!

The military units are generally cool, but they seem a bit unbalanced. The siege weapons seem especially overpowered, given their very high hit points/power/range. As a result, walls and towers aren’t as effective as you might think they should be. Granted, this is hardly ruins the game, but it does make AOE seem biased against the defensive player.

There are no build queues, which just heightens the game’s overly ADD-friendly, clickfest atmosphere (although AOE is admittedly deeper and slower than most RTS games before it). No unit formations, either. I don’t care if those weren’t considered standard features in RTS games at the time. They should have been standard all along.

Not a single one of the victory options feels truly satisfying. Pure conquest mode drags things out long past the point where you know you’ve won. Building a wonder certainly looks impressive, but it means you can pretty much play a whole game without much contact with outside civs—pretty boring, really. The artifact and ruins options almost seem like cheating. Maybe that’s why there is no High Score list or Hall of Fame. No need to preserve your achievements if they weren’t that big a deal in the first place.

Farms frequently "go fallow," which means you constantly have to rebuild them manually. This gets to be ridiculous. It doesn't add anything to the game but busywork, and it isn't even really in keeping with the "realism" found in the rest of the game. In Real Life, buildings rot and need repair over time, but AOE doesn't force you to fritter away your time rebuilding them!

You can build docks to trade with other civilizations for resources (well, gold, at least). This sounds like a good idea, but it is usually more trouble than it is worth. And sometimes the other civs don’t even build docks, which renders the whole trade issue moot!

There is a dearth of information. I find this especially disturbing given that this is allegedly a strategy game. How the heck am I supposed to plan and manage when I have almost no data to work with? How many houses have I built so far? Farms? Archers? Hoplites? Who knows?! Apparently I'm supposed to just "guesstimate" these details. Yuck.

Before playing AOE, I thought I liked Warcraft 2 in spite of its shallowness. After playing AOE, I think maybe I loved Warcraft 2 because of its shallowness. Or rather, because of its elegant simplicity. AOE’s designers seemed obsessed with piling on more stuff, to the general exclusion of making genuine improvements to the RTS genre (which has always needed a lot of improvement!). This isn’t a crime or anything, but it is disappointing.

The Bottom Line
I wanted very badly to love AOE. I respect and admire it, but do I love it? Well, no. I like it as a friend, nothing more. In short: a beautiful but flawed game, and something of a missed opportunity.

Windows · by PCGamer77 (3159) · 2005

[ View all 11 player reviews ]


1001 Video Games

Age of Empires appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Demo version

The demo released is worth getting, even for those owning the full game. It includes a tutorial campaign featuring the Hittites and two maps not present in the full version.


Being a RTS, it's surprising the printed manual in the UK release only covers the game basics, but the game includes a large online help file worth hundreds of pages of both game and historical information. Guess it's true that digital information does save trees.


"Multiplayer mode" in Age of Empires is actually something of a misnomer. It is possible to create and play a multiplayer game with only one player.


In 1998, Age of Empires has won both the Gold- and Platinum-Awards from the German VUD (Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland - Entertainment Software Association Germany) for selling more then 100,000 units (Gold) and more then 200,000 units (Platinum) in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. As the Gold-Award is not counted into the Platinum-Award, both awards total in between 300,000 and 700,000 units sold.


  • Computer Gaming World
    • March 1998 (Issue #164) – Outstanding Multiplay of the Year
    • June 2001 (Issue #203) – Introduced into the Hall of Fame
  • Game Informer
    • August 2001 (Issue #100) - #81 in the Top 100 Games of All Time poll
  • GameSpy
    • 2001 – #14 Top Game of All Time
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 12/1999 - #14 in the "100 Most Important PC Games of the Nineties" ranking
  • Interactive Achievement Awards (Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences)
    • 1998 – Computer Strategy Game of the Year – Won
    • 1998 – Interactive Title of the Year – Nominated
  • PC Gamer
  • April 2000 issue - #21 in the Readers All-Time Top 50 Games poll

  • Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland (Entertainment Software Association Germany)

    • 1998 - Gold Award for selling more then 100,000 units in Germany, Austria and Switzerland
    • 1998 - Platin Award for selling more then 300,000 units in Germany, Austria and Switzerland

Information also contributed by Luis Silva, Maw, PCGamer77 and Xoleras

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Age of Empires: Collector's Edition
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Age of Empires (Demo Version)
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Age of Empires: Anthology Bundle
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Age of Empires: Gold Edition
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Age of Empires: Pocket PC Edition
Released 2003 on Windows Mobile
Age of Empires III: Gold Edition
Released 2007 on Windows

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Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history!

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by MajorDad.

Macintosh added by Jeanne.

Additional contributors: Ummagumma, Andrew Hartnett, Unrealist, Unicorn Lynx, Maw, Havoc Crow (formerly JudgeDeadd), formercontrib, Zeppin, Litude, Paulus18950, Patrick Bregger, Plok, Rik Hideto, Victor Vance, FatherJack.

Game added November 5th, 1999. Last modified August 14th, 2023.