Age of Empires II: HD Edition

I don’t just play games on the PS3 you know.  I dabble with iOS games and PC games.  In fact one of my long time favourite gaming franchises has to be the Age of Empires series.

I have many fond memories from round about the turn of the millennium playing online matches with friends and strangers alike over dial-up on the MSN Gaming Zone.  Those were the days!

Age of Empires II

In many respects, Age of Empires II was the perfect real-time strategy game.  The perfect historical setting, great single player campaigns, and the game play that was simple enough to pick up, but took ages to truly master.  In fact, there were so many units, different terrain, and strategies you could employ, there was more depth than you realised.

There was only one problem though.  The game was built on an old graphical subsystem (pre-DirectX) and soon ran into compatibility issues with modern operating systems a few years down the line.

Then there was Age of Empires III.  For me it was a bit of a let-down.  Everything from the time period, to the slow game play, and the high computer spec requirements.  More recently there was Age of Empires Online- classic Age of Kings gameplay but the game was more of a MMORPG than RTS.

What I really wanted was Age of Kings II.  What was my idea for Age of Kings II?  The same time period as Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings, but improved graphics, more civilisations, and new campaigns but with the same great Age of Kings game play.

I’ll therefore admit that Age of Empires II: HD Edition came as a bit of a  shock, but I completely understand why the developers have gone for this option.  Sure, the graphics are a bit dated by today’s standards, but the game play is brilliant, and the game behaves and functions much as it always has.

For me, the main improvements are: population cap increased to 500, improved water graphics, higher resolution monitor support, and Steam integration.  Classic Age of Empires- a game we can now play for the next decade.  Raise your goblet to the king of real-time strategy games!

Hands-on with Steam for the Mac

I find myself once again in familiar territory, as if everything has somehow come full-circle.  Some of my most memorable gaming moments have been on the PC with the Half-Life series and Counter Strike.  Anyone familiar with the Half-Life series will have been well acquainted with Steam as one is never present without the other.

However, as the years roll on, things change.  I originally ran the Steam client on my Windows XP machine, but now I’m running a Mac.  PC gaming became less of an issue for me with the advent of the PS3.  You had true next generation gaming, with each game for the console guaranteed to work- no upgrades necessary.

Rather than continuing being the sole preserve of the PC gaming community, on May 12th 2010 Steam became available for the Mac also.  The biggest benefit though is true multi-platform availability.  If you have a copy of a PC game through Steam, it’ll be available to play on the Mac at no extra cost… in theory.

Continue reading Hands-on with Steam for the Mac