Expand your Age of Empires
by Alan Zisman
(c) 1999. First
published in Vancouver Computes,
Microsoft Rise of Rome: Age of Empires Expansion
One of the best-selling games of 1997 was Microsoft?s
Age of Empires.
AoE offered another take on the Civilization-theme: start with a tribe
of hunters and gatherers in the late Stone Age, and bring them forward
into one of the classic ancient empires?Egypt, Sumeria, and so forth,
off competition from neighboring cultures along the way.
This time around, rather than a completely new game,
Microsoft is offering
jaded Empire-builders an expansion pack: Rise of Rome. To play RoR, you
need a copy of the original AoE?the new disk updates your pre-installed
AoE version, and adds four new civilizations: Rome, Carthage, Palmyra,
As in the original, you can start off with a few
tribesman, and hopefully
build your culture up to Roman splendor. Alternatively, you can pick
of the dozen or so new pre-built scenarios?for example, you can help
Hannibal bring his elephant-equipped army over the Alps to invade Roman
Italy. Or help Romans fight Romans, commanding Octavian?s army, trying
to defeat the combined forces of Marc Antony and Cleopatra.
The new version adds new forces of ?historically
correct carnage?: armoured
elephants, camel riders, slingers, scythe chariots, and fire galleys to
those of the original game, offering opportunities for new strategy and
tactics. New buildings, offering Roman-looking architecture,
in the Coliseum. Larger than ever maps allow users to carry out
that sweep the Mediterranean.
Like other real-time strategy games, this will only
appeal to some game-players.
(It would make an interesting thesis for some psychology grad student
correlate favorite games with personality types). It can be slow-going,
especially in the early stages of moving out of the Stone Age. And when
combat breaks out, your tiny soldiers fight the enemy. But you?re like
a general in a real war?all you can do is outfit and position your
to the best of your ability?what happens next is pretty much out of
As a result, fans of arcade action, or close-up gore
should look elsewhere.
Instead, this sort of game rewards patience and planning. Of course, as
in the real world, luck factors in as well. And it?s not just
a successful ancient civilization also takes economic development (war
elephants as well as soldiers have to eat, after all!), trading, and
Like the original version, RoR can be played by a
single player, up
against a combination of computer-run enemies, by multiple players
modem or local area network (a single copy can serve two players that
or across the Internet (for example, at the Microsoft-run Internet
Check out the trial version at:
Promised soon: AoE-II, taking the passage of history
from the fall of
Rome through the Middle Ages.