A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Kids can learn how to manage resources while building an empire the way they wish -- whether that entails focusing on economic and technological aspects or by building a military power. Players can also join forces with other players to take on cooperative missions. Age of Empires Online provides a framework in which kids can experiment with planning and building civilizations.
Players have to conquer the surrounding territories and fend off enemies, but the rewards allow players to grow and develop a city infrastructure that will develop and grow from a foundling city to an impressive empire. When teaming up for cooperative missions, there are treasures to gain as well as learning the value of teamwork to overcome enemy armies.
Positive Role Models
The overall bent of the game is to allow players to succeed, especially at the earlier game levels. The in-game characters that you meet are friendly, complimentary, and supportive by giving praise for accomplishing mission goals.
Ease of Play
It has a very gentle learning curve. The initial civilizations -- the Greeks and Egyptians -- have similar structures in missions and overall quests, with the main differences being the look of the civilizations. There are a few unique quests that play off the ancient civilization (can you say camel races?) or open up bonus content based on the particular civilization played. For example, there are bonuses to infantry for the Greeks, or -- if you invest points into crafting -- you can create weapons and armor with bonuses for your armies. The tech trees are easy to navigate but listening to the quest instructions early in the game will make overall experience easier to play. Anyone who has played n Real Time Strategy game should not have a problem controlling this game.
Violence & Scariness
Armies will have to be created to take on enemy armies, and during the course of the battle, characters from different armies -- each with a health bar over their heads -- will be struck with weapons (swords, spears, and arrows during the onset and early stages of the game, progressing to better weaponry and armor as points awarded for leveling is spent on the technology trees). Once the health bar runs out, the characters will fall dead to the ground. There is no blood or gore, but the slain characters will not come back to life if the battle is won. Armies must continually be rebuilt.
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Products & Purchases
The game has micro-transactions, allowing gamers to play the base game free but requiring that money be spent to upgrade civilizations (like the Greeks and Egyptians -- which are the starting civilizations with more buyable civilizations to follow) and to buy gear and city items.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Age of Empires Online is an online strategy game about building empires, with player interaction for cooperative missions. The game also works off a micro-transaction model, foregoing a monthly subscription fee in lieu of offering items and civilization upgrades for real-world money. The game is rich with customization options, but because of the online element, younger players should be monitored and parents may prefer to go with other titles in the series for the child truly interested in civ-building games.
Is It Any Good?
The RTS (real time strategy) genre has had a tough go in online gaming, but Age of Empires Online may well change that. This title takes the great elements of one of the best franchises in the genre and expands it into the online space in a manner that is smart. From crafting to city customization, Age of Empires Online takes great foundations, adds in a measure of online charm and gameplay elements, and creates a relatively fresh take for not only the AoE series of titles, but for the RTS genre as a whole. This title should have broad appeal, and can even be a great entry into real-time strategy gaming.
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Our Editors Recommend
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