Age of Empires Online Jams Some MMO Into Your RTS


The control scheme is solid: it's a proper RTS, complete with waypoints, mappable hotkeys and kiting around baddies. There's a lot to like here, and you can't argue with the price.

Actually, there's likely quite a bit to argue about the price. The game offers up two civilizations to start -- the Greeks, and the Egyptians. The Celtic and Persian civilizations are slated to be available later this year, but there's no word on how much (if anything) it'll cost to get your hands on a bit of added variety.

And then there are the booster packs. Defense of Crete adds a sort of survival mode, where you (and a friend, if you'd like) square off against wave after wave of enemy forces, for glory and prizes. The Skirmish Hall pack (also slated for "this holiday") adds the option to create custom skirmishes -- sort of like a regular strategy game. Dropping $20 to upgrade your civilization to a "Premium Civilization" unlocks neat perks like... player-versus-player matches. Alright then.

As someone who as all the RTS-prowess of a wet sponge, being limited to peaceful trading and campaign missions is just fine with me. But a quick glance at the shows that simply buying all of the available content, and ending up with most of a proper RTS, costs about as much as simply grabbing a copy of Starcraft 2. That's "real game" territory here, to say nothing of future booster packs. Dare I risk not having access to my civilization's latest gear because I don't want to keep opening up my wallet?

As it stands, there's a lot to like here. And RTS fans might not mind spending their hard-earned ducats for another shot at the Age of Empires series. I only hope that (good) free content keeps on coming, as that's the surest way to get cheapskates like me to rifle through the proverbial couch cushions.