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Product: Age of Empires II: The Conquerors Expansion
Company: Microsoft
Estimated Street Price: $34.95
Buy Microsoft Age of Empires II: The Conquerors Expansion Now - Low Price 

Review By: Julien JAY

Game Features

Table Of Contents
1: Introduction
2: Game Features
3: Conclusion

The Conquerors expansion pack expands the limits of Age of Empires II and gives it a new fresh touch due to the inclusion of five brand new civilizations in addition to the 13 that already exist in Age of Kings. This new civilizations (Hun, Aztecs, Mayan, Korean and Spanish) will propel the gamer to the command of their destinies. Indeed gamers preside at the evolution of its civilization and can make it prosper or decline by making alliances with enemies or by trying to beat them. This is probably one of the Age of Empires aspects that contributes to its worldwide success: indeed recent studies have shown that parents prefer buying strategic games that learn something than shoot them up games.    

Each civilization of the Conquerors Expansion Pack has its own attributes, buildings, and technologies as well as a unique combat unit (the combat unit is based on the history of the civilization). The first difference you’ll notice when you start a game is the new different map types that include wonderful winter and tropical terrain: on winter maps you can see units' footprints in the snow while on tropical maps you’ll herd turkeys instead of sheep and fend off jaguars instead of wolves. New maps are also available like the Arena, Ghost lake, Nomad, Oasis, or Scandinavia ones. Best of all, new Real-World Maps allow players to re-create classic conflicts with a very high level of detail in geographic areas such as Britain, France, Italy, Japan and Texas: all this maps recreate the original terrain characteristics. Microsoft & Ensemble Studios have also included in this new release several new simple but useful features that will help gamers to concentrate on strategy and not on the handling of the game. Farms can be at least automatically replanted when they are exhausted, ship units can now move in formations just like any other units, siege weapons are more clever than ever as they won’t auto-fire if they can hurt friendly units, villagers are more smart as they will gather resources (wood, gold, quarry) automatically when they’ve just achieved a building (however sometimes their move aren't accurate and they just stop whazt they do for some unknown reason) and they’ll at least build walls correctly as they won’t enclosed them outside the new fortification they’ve just built, a dream! The trading & tributes feature have also been enhanced as you can buy, sell and tribute the resources in your stockpile in lots of 500 or tribute your entire stockpile of a resource. Units can also garrison inside Battering, Capped and Siege Rams for protection and to increase the ram's speed and attack. Very useful to be sure your opponents will eat dust. The Conquerors Expansion pack also features eleven new units that are for the common ones Hussar cavalry unit, halberdier infantry unit, turtle boat, petard (a good siege unit that carries barrels of explosives in order to explode with the enemy). Unique units specific to a civilization are Aztec Jaguar Man, Mayan Plumed Archer, Spanish Conquistador and Hun Tarkan. The most interesting new unit is the Missionary Spanish unique unit that moves faster than a Monk and can heal or convert units like a monk but has got less line of sight and range. However missionaries can’t pickup relics but they are less expensive than monks. War wagons and Turtle Ship are also good new attack units as they'll deeply damage any opponent ship. The best thing of this expansion pack is certainly the new twenty-six technologies that’ll complete the 100 that already exist. These technologies are in detail for the common ones: 

  • Bloodlines: this technology increases the hit points of all mounted units (horses,…)

  • Caravan: Caravan (available at the market) increases the speed of Trade Carts and Trade Cogs so they gather gold faster.

  • Herbal medicine: This new technology increases the healing speed of units garrisoned inside buildings.

  • Heresy: This is a very interesting feature as it causes units to die instead of being converted by an enemy monk or missionary. Sure you loose an unit but you’re opponent doesn’t retrieve it.

  • Parthian Tactics: This increases the normal and piercing armor of mounted archers.

  • Theocracy: Another interesting feature that will only causes one monk or missionary to have rest when a group of Monks convert an enemy unit.

  • Thumb Ring: It increases the rate of fire and accuracy of archers

Unique technologies are:

  • (Aztecs) Garland Wars: it increases the attack of all infantry.

  • (Britons) Yeomen: It increases the range of archers and the attack of towers.

  • (Byzantines) Logistice: Gives Cataphracts trample damage.

  • (Celts) Furor Celtica: Increases the hit points of a Siege attack unit.

  • (Franks) Bearded Axe: This technology increases the range of Throwing Axemen.

  • (Goths) Anarchy: It allows Huskarls to be created at the barracks.

  • (Goths) Perfusion: Increases the speed of Barracks units.

  • (Huns) Atheism: This makes Relic and Wonder victories take longer for all players and reduce the cost of spy technology.

  • (Japanese) Kataparuto: It makes Trebuchets fire and pack/un-pack faster.

  • (Koreans) Shinkichon: This technique increases the range of Mangonels.

  • (Mayans) El Dorado: Increases the hit points of Eagle Warriors.

  • (Mongols) Drill: Increases the movement speed of Siege Workshop units.

  • (Persians) Mahouts: Increases the speed of War Elephants.

  • (Saracens) Zealotry: Increases the hit points of camels and Mamelukes.

  • (Spanish) Supremacy: Increase the combat skills of villagers by turning them into very good front-line builders.

  • (Teutons) Crenellations: Increases the range of Castles and increases the attack of Castles, towers, and Town Centers by allowing garrisoned infantry to fire arrows as if they were villagers.

  • (Turks) Artillery: Increases the range of Bombard towers, bombard cannons and cannon galleons.

  • (Vikings) Berserkergang: Improves the regeneration rate of Berserks.  

Attila the Hun Campaign

Sure this new edition of Age Of Empires II also offers four new historically based campaigns that will allow gamers to battle, for example, like Attila the Hun by conquering opponents' armies, allying with different cultures in order to win by combat. But you can also fight like El Cid, Montezuma (in this campaign you should first capture and protect four different old shrines) and other well-known conquerors. These campaigns are historically realistic and come with new difficulty settings that will let (at least?) anyone play and just win! Campaign objectives now include a Scouts tab that provides reconnaissance information about the map and your enemies. New game types are also offered to gamers in order to make the game more intense and more challenging such as: 

  • King of the Hill: to win you’ll have to control the monument in the center of the map for the specified time period. Taking control means that you’ll have to kill every enemies units that are near the monument.

  • Wonder Race: Here there’s no combat and the first player who builds a Wonder will win. Notice that all players are allied and cannot change alliance or form teams.

  • Defend the wonder: One player starts with a Wonder surrounded by walls and defends it from enemy players to win. (This game obligatory begins at the Imperial age).

Internet gaming features have also been enhanced as you can now see other players chatting messages in their own color, change player colors to see enemies in one color, allies in a different one. If you’re playing a standard game you can also use the new chat commands to order allied computer players to attack, tribute resources, and build an economy, military or a Wonder by using sentence of this style: ‘3: Food, please’. Recorded games now save chat messages and you can even insert chapter markers to easily find back an important battle. Note that screenshots can at last capture the whole game map exactly as it appears on the screen. Finally a new return feature allows you to go back to your previous map view. All this enhancements really give a plus to the game and will give it a new interest for those players that have explored all the nooks of the previous release by offering new challenges, marvellous new graphics and new technologies & units.

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