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Age of Empires Series




Summary


Age of Empires (also known as ‘AOE’) was first released in 1997 and is still one of the most popular games played today! The general age rating for this game is 12+ as the game does contain violence, however, I remember playing this game as a 7-year-old and think that this game can be safely played by younger players especially if in offline mode. AOE is a real-time strategy video game based on ancient civilizations and mythologies which requires you to gather resources, build towns, create armies, and defeat your enemies. The game can be played on PC or Xbox and can be enjoyed in single-player mode or multiplayer with friends or others online. I remember getting this game in a cereal box as a kid, but don’t you worry, the game has been so popular that they have remastered the older games so you’re not stuck in the Stone Age. Games can typically take anywhere between 30mins-2hrs to play so ensure that there is plenty of time before starting up a game!


Gameplay


The main objective of AOE is to collect resources to advance and build your civilization while fending off enemies to complete the objective. The objective is usually to wipe out the enemy until they surrender, but the game offers other types of gameplay to give some variety. AOE offers solo play, cooperative, and multiplayer modes making it very flexible. The game can also be played in skirmish mode which is a match against the computer but the game is based on historical or mythical events, so you can learn about history as you play!



The game offers a lot of different civilizations to play and each has its own specialized and unique units and techniques giving a lot of variety to the game. Do you play as the Vikings and use their specialist berserkers units? Or do you play as the Persians and utilize the powerful war elephants? There are so many options to explore and enjoy making it a game you can play over and over again!



The graphics are low resolution and pixelated so the gameplay is very simple and cartoon-like. The low graphic nature means that the 'violence' is not very apparent or obvious meaning younger children will unlikely notice it at all.


One of our favourite parts of the game, which is perfect for younger players, is the ability to share your team. You can both play as the same team and delegate certain parts to each other. For example, one person could oversee the army, while the other person could be in charge of collecting and maintaining the resources. This is a great way to get parents and caregivers involved while being able to keep an eye on your kids and join in on the fun!



Education


If your child is interested or needs to learn about ancient civilizations or history, this is the game for them! All civilizations in the AOE series are based on real-life or mythological civilizations from the past and contain infamous special units relevant to the different civilizations.



The campaign mode also offers you the opportunity to play famous real-life battles that took place in the past, but this time, you get the final say on who wins! There is also a separate feature of the game where you can read about the different civilizations in your spare time. Either way, there is the opportunity to read about history or become part of it!



As AOE is a real-time strategy game the game requires… well strategy. There is a huge focus on strategy as you need to very carefully think about what you need to prioritize and the best way to defeat your opponent. If you're in multiplayer mode, even more strategy and communication are required as you need to decide with your teammates the best way to win. One might person may need to focus on defence, while the other focuses on offense. Who knows!? There are so many strategies that also change with each different civilization. Players need to understand the advantages of their civilization and units as well as the weaknesses of themselves and their enemies then link all these things together to create a winning strategy.


Another educational aspect of the game is resource management and budgeting. With each game, players are required to collect resources throughout such as food, wood, gold, and stone. Resources are used to purchase units, construct buildings, and increase your 'age' level. You have to gather to spend and if you spend over your limit, it's not going to end well! This is a great way to teach budgeting skills. You can't just go crazy and spend all of your resources otherwise, you wont be able to build up your army! The game teaches you to carefully consider and prioritize what you need to save your resources for and decide when it is appropriate to spend it.



Violence/ Adult Themes


AOE requires you to build an army to kill the enemy team, so there can be a lot of fighting but the violence is low level. Different units use different types of styles of fighting and this can depend on their weapon or ability. For example, units can fight with swords, spears, bows and arrows, guns, cannons, and even catapults. When characters fight, you hear a lot of clinking noises to imitate swords clashing and small explosive noises. When a unit dies, it lets out a scream or grunt, and then a small red blood puddle can be formed on the ground. Later on, the blood puddle may turn into a skeleton. However, because of the low graphics, it is not really considered graphic at all. There is the ability to attack animals to gather food resources, which could be disturbing for younger players but it is part of the game.



There is also a unit in some of the AOE games called the 'Petard' which is a siege unit that self-destructs by exploding when they attack dealing damage to the enemy. It appears as a person holding a barrel/keg that blows (along with that person). When this occurs, the only visual you see is a mini explosion of fire, no blood or anything graphic, but still may be disturbing for younger players.



The game's default settings will allow mature language. There is no mature filter setting in the game, however, you can adjust the language filter by using the developer settings (for example in Steam or Xbox settings). Any inappropriate language will then appear as #######.



Monetization


Unfortunately, AOE is no longer available in cereal boxes these days... Instead, you will need to commit to a one-off purchase for your chosen platform. The prices vary and can range between $20-$60. There are also downloadable content or "DLC’s" which you can purchase with real-life money. The DLC's are not required to play the game, but can add great extra content if your child is enjoying the game. DLC’s can include more campaigns or different civilizations to enjoy.


Another great thing about AOE is that none of the games include in-game currency to buy any cosmetics or additional items so everyone starts fresh each time they log into the game.



Safety


AOE can be enjoyed just by playing against the computer (in fact, I prefer it!). It means that you can set your own difficulties and enjoy the game at your own pace. However, AOE can also be enjoyed online with friends or others online. When playing online, however, you will need to be aware that in-game text chat is available.


If your child is interested in playing in the online game mode, don't let this old game fool you. While you may think that because it is an older game no one will be online, think again! We easily found an online match within 2 minutes! With all this in mind, there is no voice chat option available in the game which makes online play a bit safer than most. Please remember though, that third-party chat programs can be used to enable voice chat such as Discord.



Tips and Tricks


So ... cheating is never okay, but, AOE is notorious for its fun and helpful cheat codes. The cheat codes are super easy to find, simply Google search "Age of Empires cheat codes" (remember to add the specific AOE game title also) and find the one you want! There are cheat codes to help you see the whole map, or give you resources instantly! But then, there are also cheat codes to summon a group of flying dogs or a Canadian laser bear! There are plenty more where that came from too! (As long as you can spell out the code correctly!!) Why would you want to use cheat codes? Well firstly, this can help younger players or beginners to become more comfortable with the game and give them a head start. Secondly, well... it's just fun!


A lot of cheats will be disabled in gameplay against other online players, however, if you are versing the computer (or friends after enabling cheat codes), it can be quite fun! Go on give it a go!








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1 Comment


Erin
Erin
Nov 30, 2023

My favorite is Age of Empires 2 because it's simple but always a fun time!

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