Excerpt: Playing Age of Empires Online is like greeting an old friends for the first time in years, but instead of returning your friendly fist-bump, your pal socks you in the gut. Don't get us wrong: AOEO isn't a bad game, and somewhere benearth its mountain of MMO-influenced bling, the AOE of yore forms the online version's steel-sharp strategic center. Problem is, this isn't so much an instance of old meeting new as it is old and new getting thrown haphazardly into a blender.
Pros: Core game is old-school RTS gameplay at its finest; addictive MMO-ish bits; tons of content.
Cons: Horrific lack of multiplayer balance; gimped free mode; unit pathfinding issues; dropped Internet connections erase progress.
Conclusion: All in all I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Age of Empires: Online , but I think more can be done to make it a truly compelling online experience, and the marketing men at Microsoft are kidding themselves with those premium prices. Nevertheless, this is a bold step for an RTS into the ripe and unconquered pastures of the Internet, and while it isn’t completely surefooted, its spears are certainly sharp.
Excerpt: Armed with a free-to-play framework, garish visuals, and hefty helping of MMO trappings, Age of Empires Online is clearly designed for conquering a much wider playerbase than did its predecessors. It's possible to find the gameplay that made Age of Empires II so popular among the pastels, but does its bubbly coating herald a golden age for the franchise, or does it mark the end of an era?
Excerpt: The Age of Empires franchise has been around for a long time. I played it and enjoyed it, but other than the cool eagles flying around and beating natives into submission, I don’t have many memories of it, other than this one time a girl beat me at it in an office LAN game. But I’m sure she cheated.