Age of Empires 2 Review: Definitive Edition, the console and cloud version of one of the most beloved RTS games of all time, can now be played with a gamepad.
Being able to play Age of Empires 2 with a gamepad is, in its own little way, a landmark event. Microsoft’s real-time strategy game has been one of the most popular PC games for about 25 years, and it’s a real icon of a genre that, despite everything, can’t be had on consoles.
Microsoft strategy with Game arcadeHowever, it no longer includes barriers and this applies to both directions of travel. So if all Xbox games are available right on PC at launch, even those genres that were once thought only possible on PC should find their way into living rooms (and even phones) all over the world. It happened with Flight Simulator, another simulation of the so-called “master race,” and now it’s happening with Age of Empire.
In this case, however, the process is more risky than expected: several generations of consoles have now been experimented with by various development studios to adapt real-time strategy games for gamepads, but few have come close to obtaining acceptable results. Oddly enough, Age of Empires 2 is the focus of some of the more high-profile attempts: in 2001, Konami brought the original game to the PlayStation 2, but it was a straightforward conversion in which the lack of practicality and precision of the controllers was immediately apparent, especially if they had to emulate a mouse and keyboard. . Even the original developer of the series, Ensembe Studios, tried before closing its doors to create an RTS originally designed for consoles: even Halo Wars, despite the quality and loud name, failed the genre-clearing project on Xbox.
In the Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition review We will try to find out if, after years, someone has managed to close the circle.
First, though, let’s make a little introduction. Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition, as it is easy to guess from the name, is the definitive edition of Age of Empires 2, a 1999 strategy game that was revived on PC in 2019 with Improved resolution and graphics On the occasion of the twentieth anniversary. This version, sponsored by Forgotten Empires, contains all the DLC and expansions released over the years, plus an unreleased pack made for the occasion, plus some small graphic tweaks introduced to make some units more fun and map management easier, such as zooming in more effectiveness. Overall, these are 11 historical campaigns that relive the actions of some of history’s most famous heroes (William Wallace, Genghis Khan and Joan of Arc, to name a few), to which you can add co-op missions, skirmishes, and classic multiplayer. Don’t underestimate AI optimization that, at the highest levels, behaves in a way that is less mechanical and more believable.
All this to say that the version that will make it to Xbox One and Xbox Series X | S and the cloud on January 31, 2023, from the content point of view, is identical to PC. Therefore, if you are looking for more detailed information about the composition of the package and a description of the improvements, we refer you to the original review of Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition.
What you need to know in this case is that in Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition the player will be called upon to do The prosperity of his kingdom through different historical eras. It will be necessary to do this by developing two basic elements: on the one hand, there is the economic growth of the settlement, based on the exploitation of the resources scattered on the square, and on the other hand the management of the army, the inevitable tool for settling any disagreements with other actors operating on the map. The Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition Definitive Edition’s campaigns reject this structure in various ways, recounting the actions of some of history’s most famous leaders to pit the player against various challenges, such as having to take on much stronger armies or facing off to get a fragile economy back on track.
Everything is as we remembered it, so we focus on it What Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition looks like with the Xbox Gamepad.
Adaptation, not transformation
To summarize, we can say that the game made by Xbox Studios is more than that adaptation of the conversion from the game. In fact, the developers did not limit themselves to assigning computer controls to a gamepad, but looked for a way to automate some operations, set options, and simplify some operations. However, learning all the shortcuts correctly takes time, and the speed and accuracy of the mouse and keyboard combination is still unsurpassed, but it cannot be said that Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition cannot be played comfortably on Xbox, also thanks to new tutorials designed to teach strategies and controls.
To achieve this goal, the developers have tried to limit all information and options available to the player to a maximum of two keystrokes. This is thanks to intelligent data management Radial rolls, which changes depending on where you place your cursor: above the building you will see options to manage it, such as the ability to create technical improvements or create a queue of units. For warriors, you can define their position, whether to have them patrol an area or protect a building. Without any specific objective, you will have access to a more general menu that allows you to send specific units to a point, for example a fishing boat on a newly discovered school of fish, or to access the general creation menu. This way it would be possible to decide to build a building without choosing an inhabitant, and then the AI would send one to complete the task. Moreover, you can customize some of the slots in these menus, in order to adapt them to the needs of the game or simply to your own style of play.
there d pad It allows you to jump between different units (military, citizen or religious) with a double tap you select all soldiers of the same type, while holding down the A key you group all units “touched” with the cursor.
Very interesting it is Economic management: it will be possible to choose the profession of each citizen at the right time or, by pressing the right trigger, you can decide to automate these processes. There are presets based on the era the civilization is in and you can decide how many workers will be assigned to a particular sector, with others managed by the computer as needed. Thanks to a few shortcuts to jump from one point to another on the map and the ability to zoom in a lot, it is possible to manage the entire scenario quite efficiently, even during the most difficult stages.
Despite the improvements in Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition, such as 4K resolution (1440p in Series S) or enhanced assets, we’re still talking about a game with almost 25 years on its back. Therefore, from a purely technological point of view, it cannot be defined as beautiful or modern, but definitely functional. The units and buildings are crisp and well defined, the maps are pleasant to look at and well designed, the series certainly has an unmistakable style, but it’s impossible not to notice the “jerky” building animations, menu design, outdated game interface and all that stuff that’s been invaded in those two decades of study. Game interface and quality of life.
For the console version, some have been added Entry options Very interesting, such as audio guide for menus, color blindness mode, and a larger interface for menus.
The only sector that never gets old is that sonorous, given that he can count on a good dubbing in Italian and epic music. Again, the sound design is noticeable, with noise disappearing if you step off the screen without fading in much smoother. In the end nothing affects the quality of the gameplay and the fun: Age of Empires 2 remains one of the best exponents of the genre and this definitive edition is extremely rich in quality content, taking dozens of hours between historical campaigns and intense campaigns. Multiplayer skirmishes.
- This is the definitive version of one of the best RTS ever
- Good shortcut system
- It remains one of the mainstays of the genre
- However, it is for mouse and keyboard
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