Product Available from: Amazon.ca
I have had bad experiences with Amazon in the past. Either the price is ridiculous, or I place my order and 3 weeks later I get told that its not in stock. However, with Age of Empires: Collectors Edition, referred as AoE going forward, I seem to have gotten lucky. I was originally browsing for a phone case for my significant other, and I wanted to get something else with the case to make the order worth my while as well. So I came across this classic. And at $5.99CAD, for both games with expansion, I was sold.
After just short of 2 weeks, 8 business days to be specific, I received the package and as advertised, it was sealed completely. Excited, I tore open the factory seal and opened the case. To my surprise, no booklet with instructions or CD-key, just a disc. Also, clearly this game came from Europe, I had a choice between English, or Deutsch to read on the game case. That didn't bother me too much as English was still an option. I popped the disc into my PC and tried installing the game. As my main drive is a SSD, mainly for Windows 7, I selected my HDD as the install path and started installation.
Ok, lets try installing it to my SSD, even though I definitely do not want that, but if it works, I can just manually move the files over and get started. So I go through the process again, keeping the default install path....
What is going on... No matter what I tried, whenever the install attempted to copy files, I was getting 'In Use' errors. I then realized my Anti-Virus software (AVG) was the culprit and temporarily disabled it to try the installation again...
So now that I have the game installed, I can now play. Starting the game up in Compatibility mode from the get-go because let's be honest, without setting this up on Windows 7, older games are virtually unplayable and AoE was originally released in 1997, so it was built for Windows 95. Beautiful, the game loads up to the menus. However, upon selecting the first campaign mission, the screen goes black and the game crashes. Well that's great, am I going to have to build a old PC just to play this game? After a little bit of Googling, I discovered the fix, once you load the game up to the menus, you have to minimize the game, open up task manager and kill explorer.exe. No I am not joking, doing this and disabling Anti-Virus software is the only way to a) play the game and b) fix the colours from looking ridiculous, the grass had red splotches everywhere, I thought they were flowers to be completely honest.
Finally, I can play!
If you have never played Age of Empires before, the game is quite simple, but quite in depth. You play as a specific leader, which changes after completing their respective campaign, and build your empire to destroy all enemies. I am not going to go to in depth with how to play however, just know that this is an older Real-Time Strategy game created by Microsoft to compete against one of the most popular games of the time, Starcraft. The game itself is a great time waster and still holds up. The voice over acting is not terrible either, with accents to match the leader you are playing for. The only complaint I have is the default key mappings as you can spend hours either trying to figure them all out in the configuration screen, or just redo the entire thing.
Before I knew it, I had been playing for three hours, and I had work in the morning. Definitely a fun game still, after nearly 20 years since release. If you are a fan of Real Time Strategy games, AoE is definitely a good pick, but most likely you already played it. If you haven't played, or are too young to have enjoyed it's initial release on Windows 95/98 and the problems that came with that, I would suggest you go pick it up and enjoy a game that was made when games were still games and not the pay-to-win crap we have today.
Signed, Alex Boddam