From Age of Empires to Rise of Nations

An article about Microsoft’s plans to make Age of Empires for the mobile platform, including the iPad had me longing for the days of what I consider to be one of the best series of games made – Age of Empires. I spent hours playing both Age of Empires and Age of Kings (including all the expansion packs). I feel this was a watershed series of games for Microsoft. At the time, Microsoft wanted to be a game publisher. They wanted that “Home” market and needed more than just Flight Simulator and Links. Along comes Ensemble Studios and hits their first game right out of the park. It wasn’t just a “decent” or “alright” title, it was fantastic. It had great graphics, awesome music and sounds, a complex and exciting skill tree and it was a great single player as well as multi-player network game. At the time, when it hit 6pm, the corporate network was alive with AoE.

There was also the spectacular Rise of Nations. Sure, it was a “spin off” of Age of Empires, but it added a slew of it’s own features. You had to push the borders of your territory instead of just lifting the “fog of war”. It also covered more time had military units with flame throwers, machine guns, humvees and ultimately, nuclear bombs. It took was a fantastic single player and multi-player game. We had many, many epic battles with both of those games on the corporate network.

Talking about the games got me all nostalgic and I went to the old CD case binder and low and behold I still have my Age of Empires and Age of Kings CDs. But try as I might I couldn’t find my Rise of Nations discs. I know damn well and good I wouldn’t have thrown them out. I’m sure they’re in some box at the bottom of a closet just waiting to be unearthed. But have no fear, a quick trip to Amazon revealed a packaged edition of Rise of Nations and the Thrones and Patriots expansion pack. I bought a copy for a mere $8. I can’t wait for that to get here so I can give it a go.

I’m going to try and install Age of Empires again and see if I can get it to work. I don’t know if Windows 7 will be kind to AoE and let it run correctly. I also need to find out where all the patches can be downloaded from. I know there was a series of updates to correct the bugs.

While the games themselves are awesome it sort of bugs me how it all played out for Ensemble Studios and Big Huge Games. Microsoft didn’t have a showcase game until Ensemble came along. Once Microsoft took over, they squeezed them dry and left them for dead. That studio is now defunct and that’s pretty sad. AoE was a pinnacle set of games at the time and feel that series should still be around.Unfortunately, Microsoft shut down the studio once they got Halo Wars out of them. That’s not the way you treat a company that put you on the map as a game publisher.

But the games do live on. The entire Age of Empires series is available from Amazon and so is Rise of Nations. I never played AoE III so that bundle will be showing up as well. If I can get them to work, I’m for damn sure playing a full on battle this weekend!

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Rise of Nations + Rise of Nations: Thrones & Patriots

Age of Empires III Complete Collection

Age Of Empires Collector’s Edition (Limited Edition)

Age of Empires 2: Gold Edition

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