Without a doubt one of my favorite games in my twenties was Age of Empires. I spent hours playing this game and in fact at one point, my entire startup company on Friday’s would have an AoE tournament. When Microsoft announced that Age of Empire Castle Siege was coming to Windows and Windows Phone earlier this year, I was ecstatic but also had my concerns about it living up to my memories. I can say now after a few weeks of playing, it lives up to expectations.
The game play in Age of Empires Castle Siege is outstanding with great graphics, smooth scrolling and a truly universal app for both Windows and Windows Phone. Having played the game for a few weeks now I can say that you won’t be disappointed, especially if you are an old AoE player.
Age of Empires Castle Siege is a universal Windows app for both Windows 8/8.1 and Windows Phone 8/8.1. It requires an Xbox
account (which is usually your Microsoft account all rolled up into one). On your Windows Phone you will need at least 169MB free for the install but it can be installed on a MicroSD if your phone has one.
The game is a top-down tower defense style game where you select a civilization and begin building your empire. The game starts with plenty of step-by-step tutorials so even if you have never played AoE you will get the hang of it pretty quickly. Picking your civilization is important as each one has unique skills or technologies to it over others. If you have played in the past then again, this will feel familiar.
In order to build your civilization, you will need resources: Food, Gold and eventually Stone. Each of these are gained through farms, mills and quarries that you build at various levels in the game. However, you can only grow to a point and have a certain number of them until you progress you civilization through various ages – thus the name of the game. As your farms, mills and quarries produce resources, a
small icon will appear above them. Tap it and it will be added to your resource totals. Again, you can only produce so much at a certain rate until you progress your civilization and those resources are needed in order to progress your civilization.
Part of building your empire will also be building an army. These armies will have various members such as Pikes men, Archers and as you progress, advanced weapons such as Battering Rams, Trebuchets, and the like. You can then take those armies and have skirmishes against other players in the Age of Empire Castle Siege universe or can go through historical campaigns to gain banners and crowns (war trophies if you like).
But it isn’t all about collecting resources, building an army and having a few fights here and there. Remember, you are building a civilization. That means that you are going to have to build things like universities so you can research more advanced weapons and resource collecting. You will need to build churches and cathedrals
for more research and for the overall betterment of your people. That means as a player you will have to find the balance between building an army and feeding the people – the classic problem of any king or queen.
In playing Age of Empires Castle Siege there are some great elements that make the game entertaining for more than just a day or two. First, it is a thinking game. Yes there is the battle element of it but you have to really think of how you are going to build up your army, defenses and how you are going to use your resources. Gold is the most precious resource you have so you have to think about how you are going to use it wisely. You can purchase more through in-app purchases if you chose to speed things up a bit but it is certainly not a requirement if you have patience.
Second is the element of this being a proper universal app. Across my Windows PC and my Lumia 1320, I’m building one empire. When I play one my Windows PC then move to my Windows Phone, because my progress is saved to my Xbox account so it is on all devices and I pick up right where I left off. This makes the game far more enjoyable as I’m not having to decide which empire I want to play on which device. Its the same and it is a far more enjoyable experience. Because my gameplay is tied to my Xbox account, I get achievements which count toward my Xbox status. The game is also touch friendly on both platforms making it that much easier to move from one device to another.
Finally there is the playing against other players in the Age of Empires Castle Siege universe. By tapping on Battle menu (lower left crossed swords) you can access the menu that allows you to battle other players or start the historic campaigns. It is not multi-player in the sense that you are playing someone in real time. Rather you are using your army in an effort to destroy their Keep (their castle) by attacking
the civilization they have built. The grade of opponents gets all-the-more difficult as you advance further into ages of your own empire. The reward however is that you gain resources which you can use to further your own empire. Some of these can be quite challenging as there are many good players out there who have built strong defenses. Even if you lose you gain some knowledge of how better to re-arrange your own empire to make it the best it can be.
Overall the quality of Age of Empires Castle Siege is outstanding. The graphics are great and the gameplay is excellent. The added bonus of the game being a universal app for Windows and Windows Phone and the Xbox integration makes it hard to resist if you like this genre of game.
The game is free and there are in-app purchases that can be made starting at $2.99 and going up from there. As I stated earlier, you don’t have to buy gold if you don’t want to in order to play the game. I’ve progressed my empire quite nicely without making gold purchases. The key is patience.
Age of Empires Castle Siege can be found in the Windows Phone Store or in the Windows Store