I honestly hate when a game gives me so much hope, but just kicks me right square in the balls. There have been only two real time strategy games that I’ve played religiously when I was really into those types of games. One was Rise of Nations and the spin off Rise of Legends and of course Age of Empires. These were fun games that allowed you to start with the bare bones of a community and build it up so you could conquer other factions and rule the world. The one thing I really liked about them was the amount of down time you had, which was little to none. There was always something to do or somewhere to explore. You had to make sure people were working and mining for copper, farming, building structures or researching upgrades that would benefit you and your people. You also had to not only take care of your people, you had to protect them by building barracks and fortifications that kept enemies out. You were challenged constantly by people trying to destroy you, so you had to learn and quickly master time management as well as resource management. When all things came together and you kicked some ass and upgraded to the newest technologies, you felt great because all your hard work paid off.
The last Age of Empires game I played was Age of Empires Online which was free, but offered in game purchases. Even though the game was freemium you were still able to play the game just like normal, except you may have to work a little harder for resources. This, I believe, is where the problem started. These games are for people who like to strategically and methodically pick apart enemies by slowly taking over and removing resources, but when you take a person like that in an environment where the game actions have slowed to a crawl the person is liable to go insane.
This is where Age of Emires: Castle Siege comes into play. When I saw that this game was available as a free to play game I figured it would be like Age of Empires Online, because Microsoft Games did that game and this was a Windows game. I downloaded it and decided to play it on my PC. The game connected to my Xbox Live account and I started to play. You are given a group of factions you can start with, but no stats so none of them are better than the others. I picked one that sounded familiar and continued onto the normal tutorial into. I noticed a few things while going through the tutorial that I should have taken as a possible red flag. The first thing I saw was that your resources have been knocked down to just apples and wood, which are used to upgrade everything. This seemed odd, because in the past when you had different types of resources it made sense if you needed certain ones to build or upgrade. There is no way that 300 apples is what’s used to build a new watch tower or upgrade your castle. The other thing I noticed was that you have farms and lumber yards, but no people working them. Everything seemed to be self sufficient and it was your job to periodically check on them to collect. This also made more sense when you realized that there were no mountains or forests near by. These are two big staples in the Age of Empires games, because if you can’t grow a resource you have to go scavenge for it. They have also taken the freemium game play to a new level as now if you want to hurry up your building then you can spend a few gold pieces, or you can substitute gold for any missing apple or pieces of wood you’re missing when you want to upgrade. The game gives you a set of gold to use when you start, but I realized that if you used the gold when it asked you then any further upgrades would cost more gold to rush than you already had. The tutorial ended with you building a barracks, training soldiers and partaking in a very simple battle. Instead of selection a group of people and pointing them at a town, you now have to click a group and point to a section outside of a cities limits and have them attack. The results are the same whether you do it old school or new school, the armies take out the nearest section and then ravage the city heading to the main castle. After the battle was over you’re given an achievement worth 10g and some wood then left to your own accord. You now have a peacy treaty timer at the top that was at about 2 hours and now was at 90 minutes. Logically this was a timer that when 00:00 was hit enemies would start attacking you. I did a search around, but there was absolutely nothing around me, except three roads leading off screen. I started to do what I could with my wood and apples to build up my town, but I quickly notices that the resources were really going slow. I would click collect and maybe get 5 pieces of wood every few minutes and the same went with the apples. I looked to see how much I would need to upgrade and it was a few thousand apples, which was ridiculous because the peace treaty would surely be over by then and I’d die. I started to get upset, because I needed to get more resources and there was nothing to mine or chop down, so I was at the mercy of the game. I had to sit and click collect every so often to get a few pieces of material. I tried to go to battle to see if I could get more resources then, but I was told that my level was too low and I had to wait until I hit level 4 to start battling. Seeing how slow my resources were going, this would take forever. I was completely stuck and the only way I could speed things up was to pay money for good and supplies, it was then when I said hell no and turned off the game.
Age of Empire: Castle Siege I thank you for the 10g points I was able to add to my gamerscore, but there is no way I’m going to start throwing money at you after 30 minutes of game play when 20 of that was a mandatory tutorial. I really enjoy playing Age of Empires and I check my Age of Empires Online game, and it’s still good so I think I’ll go back to playing that. I know you want to make money and these games aren’t free to make but don’t punish the player. I took time to download and engage this game, give me a few hours until you start trying to virtually pick pocket me to have any type of fun. In fact, I would rather you put up a sign that replaces the word gold with the word fun. I will not be playing anymore of this game and every Age of Empires fan should do the same.