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Age of Empires II: The Conquerors
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As the reviewer for Age of Empires II: Age of Kings, I was interested to see what improvements were made with the Conquerors Expansion pack and whether they were worth the cost. I will save you the trouble of reading any further. Once you install the expansion pack, the upgrades will be so seamless – and so helpful – that after 20 minutes you wont remember any of the improvements unless you go back and play the original. At that point you will miss them, and get very frustrated. So if your still playing AOE2 or even if you have already put the game aside for something new, you should go out and pick up the expansion pack.

It will revitalize the game.

After you install the expansion pack, the first thing you will notice is that a new icon for The Conquerors will appear and the original version of AOE2 is still on your hard drive. I really like this feature. It allows you to go back and play multi player AOE2 with your friends without having to worry about who has the expansion pack and who annoyingly has not purchased it yet.

While on the subject, multiplayer games, happen to be one of the areas of improvement. There are several new multi player styles of play. Along with that are 5 new civilizations, each civilization is also given a new technology and there are also some new general units and technologies. There are also some neat new maps, four new campaigns, and a bunch of helpful minor changes. It may sound like a lot, but it all integrates seamlessly into the original.

One of the minor changes that you just can’t live without is smarter villagers. For instance, when a villager finished constructing a mine he or she will immediately start working at the nearest gold or ore deposit. Also new is a queue at the mill, so now instead of having idea villagers waiting to start new farms, they go ahead and start them automatically, assuming you are using the queue. You can also lay out large sections of wall at one time, just place and drag and the wall is created from point A to point B. Those are just a few of the more useful minor changes.

Some of the old civilizations that were either too weak, too strong, or just in need of some help have been adjusted and five new civilizations have also been added to the fray. They include the Aztecs, Huns, Koreans, Mayans and Spanish. And of course these new civilizations come with their own unique building styles and technological advances. Not to leave the other civilizations out, there are also some general new technologies and units that are open to everyone. Included are new units like the Hussars, a type of advanced light cavalry.

As I mentioned earlier, Conquerors includes a number of new styles of play that are available both as stand-alone games and as multiplayer games. They are King of the Hill, where a wonder is placed at the center of the map and everyone tries to capture and hold it. There is also Defend the Wonder, where you start with a wonder and you have to protect it while everyone else tries to kill you. And you can play Wonder Race, where everyone tries to win by building a wonder. They have also added a new Last Man Standing team game, where once your team defeats the other side, you turn on each other. There are also some new real world maps like Britain, Italy and Texas of all places. There are also new maps where you leave footprints and wheel tacks in the snow. My favorite though is one set in the Yucatan where sheep have been morphed into turkeys and jaguars roam the jungle.

At this point your probably wondering why they called it The Conquerors. Well, along with three new campaigns including Attila the Hun, El Cid, and Montezuma, they have added a Battle of the Conquerors campaign. In this campaign you are placed in the middle of a famous battle. One welcome addition to this and the other new campaigns is a difficulty setting, reserved before only for random map games.

In my original review, I gave Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings, 5 GiN Gems, our highest rating, and it also went on to win GiN’s Real Time Strategy Game of the Year Award for 1999. As I have nothing but praise for the Conquerors Expansion I am naturally going to give it 5 GiN Gems too. I just wish I could give it a bit of a higher rating to denote its improvement over the original.

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