Age of Empires Franchise RTS Review

Age of Empires is a series of historical RTS (Real-Time Strategy) video games developed by Ensemble Studios and published by Xbox Game Studios. The first game of the franchise was released in 1997. After the original game, an additional seven titles and spin-offs have been released. Age of Empires was one of the first historical real-time strategy games ever made. In addition, it was a huge commercial success, and games in this franchise are still being released to this day, with the fourth main game in the development.

Story and Setting

Age of Empires focused on events in Africa, Europe, and Asia, all the way from Stone Age to the Iron Age. The expansion explored the conquest and forming of the Roman Empire. The sequel, “The Age of Kings” was set in medieval times, while its expansion focused on the Spanish conquest of Mexico. The other games explored near modern period, Europe’s colonization of the Americas and several Asian nations.

Age of Empires Gameplay
Age of Empires Gameplay

Age of Empires Gameplay

The game is based, like many other RTS games, on defeating enemy units and destroying their buildings to ultimately achieve victory. You can do so by training your own units and building a settlement. But first, you need to train workers and gather resources. There are 12 playable civilizations in the original game divided into four groups: Greek, Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Asian:

  • Assyrians
  • Babylonians
  • Choson
  • Egyptians
  • Greeks
  • Hittites
  • Minoans
  • Persians
  • Phoenicians
  • Shang
  • Sumerians
  • Yamato

The Rise of Rome expansion introduced 4 new civilizations:

  • Carthaginians
  • Macedonians
  • Palmyrans
  • Romans

Each of these factions have their own advantages and disadvantages, but the game is still somewhat balanced. So for multiplayer, players can choose the faction they like the most without having to worry about which one is the best.


As of 2008, five of the main games have each sold more than one million copies. According to several game-review websites, Age of Empires had sold more than three million copies and The Rise of Rome more than one million as of 2000.

Critics have credited Age of Empires for influencing RTS genre in general and games like Rise of Nations, Empire Earth and Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds. In conclusion, this gem of a game had shaped RTS genre as we know it today.

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