So, I've been to Battle, a small town in southern England where the Battle of Hastings took place. I joined the reenactment on the Norman side, and although I was initially discouraged (I'd prefer to stand with the Anglo-Saxons against the invaders), I enjoyed it in the end. Though mostly a set-up battle (meaning it's scripted and only at the end do people actually fall down and 'die'), I found it to be a good introduction to the ambience of 'how it's done' and also it gave me a few things to think of in terms of my stamina and need for hydration over a period of 30-45 minutes during a sunny day. Food for thought. Needless to say, I enjoyed the thing immensily and I'm looking forward to more events with my group, the Milites de Bec - and here's hoping I'll actually stay in England long enough to participate in upcoming shows (the earliest one is in February). Given that I also want to go back home (for many different reasons), I will either develop a split personality, or perhaps will clone myself to cater to all my needs. Life doesn't stop sucker-punching me in the balls for some time now. But that's not what you came here to read.
So, AoE: The Conquerors. No Short Review, because it deserves none. In a nutshell:
- additional factions. Yeah, so what, they still play EXACTLY the same. Ok, the American civilisations actually have a different building design. Wow.
- additional units. Would be good if they introduced any new strategies. They don't. Plus, some of them just don't fit the game's period at all - see Hussars, which, for example Celts can use. Hussars, for those of you who don't know, are a XVI/XVII century cavalry unit originating in Eastern Europe with characteristic 'wings' attached to the back of their armour. These wings are reproduced in the unit model in The Conquerors, but there is no Eastern European faction at all to be found.
- additional upgrades, including Faction-specific upgrades. Again - they don't change anything, not even the Faction-specific stuff which ranges from semi-useful to useless.
- additional game modes. Cool, but they are very limited in customisation - didn't even bother to try most of them out because I just didn't like the settings.
- additional 'real world' maps. Gimmick. Played a game on the map of the British Isles. Ummm... yeah, doesn't change the gameplay the slightest bit.
- new campaigns. Why would I even bother?
- they removed ALL individual units' orders. So no Stance, no Formations, no Guard options, nada. What. The. Hell. This makes the already irritatingly stupid units even dumber and controlling big groups of units nearly impossible. Nice way of improving things, Ensemble Studios.
Suffice to say, I was right about my preliminary thoughts on the expansion. 5.5 - some improvements, but ultimately not one bit more worthwhile than the basic game.