Age of Empires II was one of the games I played a lot with my friends and one of the few we still play! Of course we tried Age of Empires III and some other more recent RTS games. However all those games do not give us the same awesome multi-player experience that Age of Empires II did! and no, this time I am not just being nostalgic.
We still play it, however not as much as we used to. This because we are not in high-school any more, but also because trying to run Age of Empires LAN on Windows 7 sucks! There are so many problems, wrong resolution, weird colours and there is always at least one player who cannot connect before rebooting 5 times. This makes playing this game time consuming and frustrating. On more than one occasion we just gave up and went home.
A few weeks ago I stumbled upon something that looked to good to be true; an unofficial AOE II expansion made by fans of the game. At first I was skeptic, because most of the time these kind of things don’t live up to my expectations. So I checked their website and found a pretty neat trailer.
The features of Forgotten Empires are:
5 brand new civilizations (Italians, Indians, Magyars, Incas and Slavs)
30 new technologies
9 new units
50+ population limit
11 new maps
1 new building
2 new architecture sets
20 new scenario editor objects
Full resolutions up to 1920*1440 (Widescreen included)
It just looked all a little bit to good to be true, however I gave it a try and the installation was surprisingly easy. I decided to test it in a LAN game with my brother, who was maybe even more excited about this than I was.
He decided to play with the new Italian civilization and I selected the Slavs for myself. The Slavs unique units looked pretty cool and they have a new technology called ‘Druzhina’, this causes your infantry units damage adjacent units. I did not expect it to be as awesome as it sounds or that it would be overpowered. It actually worked really nice, upgraded units would not be damaged a lot by this technology, but villagers dropped dead when getting to close to my legions.
We play against Goths and Magyars in the map Highlands. This is not one of the custom maps of Forgotten Empires, but we thought the new civs would be enough excitement for one evening.
The higher resolution makes a big difference. It gives you a better overview of the game and it looks very nice. The new civilizations have their own buildings, as you can see above, which fit in really nice with the existing building themes. The game is still very balanced, although we had the feeling it was a bit more difficult than The Conquers. Or we just sucked because we hadn’t played in a while. The new civilizations and their technologies fit in real nice, that combined with the easy installation and launcher it almost feels like a real expansion pack for Age of Empires II.
It is an amazing project which adds so much to the legendary Age of Empires II. If you still play the game, this expansion is a must have! The team is still working on it and plans to add even more to the game. The team that has worked on it describes the current status of the project as follows, “We have the feeling the quality is comparable and maybe even better than The Conquerors, we’re at the point of no return “. I disagree, the quality is definitely better than The Conquerors!
For those who missed the links or are to lazy to scroll up, you can find them here: http://www.forgottenempires.net/