Age of Empires Online

Common Sense Media says

Classic real-time-strategy game now online with great charm.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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

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.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

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.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Some privacy concerns: The game offers open chat. While there are filters to prevent obvious bad language from coming through, online players are adept at finding workarounds for this and can be creative. Because the game allows players to directly communicate with one another, care must be taken to keep younger players safe. Parents should monitor younger gamers and who they are chatting with during their online time, as well as discussing appropriate communication. This is a game geared for older players and thus, while child-friendly, is not geared for children.

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.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • following directions
  • reading comprehension
  • text analysis

Science

  • motion
  • engineering
  • energy

Social Studies

  • government
  • power structures
  • the economy

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • thinking critically
  • decision-making
  • strategy

Self-Direction

  • achieving goals
  • goal-setting
  • work to achieve goals

Collaboration

  • cooperation
  • group projects
  • teamwork

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Learning Approach

Support

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • following directions
  • reading comprehension
  • text analysis

Science

  • motion
  • engineering
  • energy

Social Studies

  • government
  • power structures
  • the economy

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • thinking critically
  • decision-making
  • strategy

Self-Direction

  • achieving goals
  • goal-setting
  • work to achieve goals

Collaboration

  • cooperation
  • group projects
  • teamwork

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.

This Learning Rating review was written by Michael Lafferty

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What's it about?

AGE OF EMPIRES ONLINE offers two classic civilizations -- the Greeks and Egyptians -- and then allows players to build cities from basic settlements to glorious empires. Players will accomplish this through quests, leveling up their cities, and spending points earned on skills in the technology trees. There is cooperative gameplay, and players can even indulge in player-versus-player gaming, pitting one army against another.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk about...

Game details

Platforms:Windows
Price:$19.95
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Microsoft
Release date:August 16, 2011
Genre:Real Time Strategy (RTS)
ESRB rating:E10+ for Mild violence (Windows)

This review of Age of Empires Online was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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