Age of Empires (AoE) was my first favorite PC-game. AoE is a real-time strategy game. You usually start a game with a town center and a few villagers. The villagers are used for constructing new buildings, walls and towers. They can also be used to repair the buildings as well as boats. Villagers also can attack other units, though, that is not advisable since they do insignificant damage and easily die. One of the main reasons you have villagers is to gather resources. Resources are needed for making units, researching technologies and building stuff. When I played this game as a kid I always cheated so I can’t say that I was good at this game. You cannot cheat in the demo version however which I played before the real game.
The game itself is simple. There is a limited set of buildings you can make and very few distinct kinds of units. Furthermore, the game mechanics don’t work that well. If you select a group of units and make them go somewhere you will notice that it is quite buggy. Units move clumsily if at all, and often fail to reach their target altogether. Another simple thing is the game AI. It is stupider than a banana. Of course, you can adjust the difficulty settings in the game, but the AI won’t get any smarter. Most of the time all you must do in order to win a game is to spam war ships and attack anything that’s within the boats reach. If the AI has villagers gathering recourses you can easily attack them with the boats and they will still come back to the same place you attacked them with even more villagers. The AI will also send some military ground units but war ships, at least in the demo, are hands down the strongest unit in the game. Boats have lots of health, can be repaired by villagers, deals lots of damage and move fast. Melee units cannot even reach boats and must instead flee (the AI way of fleeing is to move only one unit, the one being attacked). The AI may be stupid, but somehow that stupidity makes the game fun to play and quite unique. The game can also be very challenging despite the stupid AI. All in which let you come up with strategies that only work for stupid AIs.
What I like about this game is that it lets you be creative when designing “cities” and battling opponents. Even though the number of different army units are few, there are quite a bit of completely different ones. I.e. Axe-men, archers, horsemen, catapults, hoplites and of course the legendary priest famous for ‘wolololoooing’ enemy units to join your side. Or vice versa if the enemy has them. Lots of okayish and fun single-player games exists in “campaign-mode”. I have heard that Microsoft and those who made AoE never though it would become as popular as it did. Thus, noticeably improvements can be seen in the successor, AoE2. Which kind of clearly shows the differences between a properly designed game and a kind of so-so designed game. As a kid, I think I mostly liked AoE over AoE2 but occasionally that could vary. AoE2 just doesn’t feel the same and is kind of slow to play.