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Age of Empires Definitive Edition

Summon the minute men! Age of Empires Definitive Edition released

One of the most popular RTS franchise of all time is getting a HD makeover. Age of Empires Definitive Edition is now available on the Windows 10 store. The new release promises overhauled graphics, sound effects and according to the website “a smooth UI experience rebuilt from the ground up“.

In a post announcing the release, Adam Isgreen (Creative Director at Microsoft) says “We created Age of Empires: Definitive Edition as a homage to all Real Time Strategy (RTS) fans and to PC gamers everywhere…the Definitive Edition brings back the original feeling of Age of Empires, but better than ever.” 

The original Age of Empires was released in 1997 by Ensemble Studios and proved to be a commercial success. Ensemble Studios subsequently developed Age of Empires II in 1999. Microsoft acquired Ensemble in 2001 and the studio released Age of Empires III in 2005. Ensemble Studios closed down in early 2009, shortly after the release of Halo Wars and many fans feared that this spelt the end of the AoE franchise.

However a high definition version of Age of Empires II sparked renewed hope amongst empire builders, despite the remake receiving mixed reviews. This was mainly due to the lack of changes in game mechanics.

Age of Empires Definitive Edition

Fans will be happy to hear that this remastered version doesn’t just tweak the graphics and sound effects but also reworks some long requested changes to the game mechanics. This extensive list includes the ability to change the population cap in the pre game lobby, the ability to zoom in and out, setting rally points and various unit queuing mechanics.

For those who want to pick a fight with fellow empire builders, Age of Empires Definitive Edition also includes online modes for up to 8 players.

And it seems the good news doesn’t stop at just Age of Empires I. In the same post, Adam Isgreen mentions that definitive edition of Age of Empires II & III are being worked on but no release date is in sight. This follows on from an announcement last August that the long awaited development of Age of Empires IV  is underway in the capable hands of Relic Entertainment.

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E3 Expo LIVE on UGP

E3 Expo LIVE right here on UGP!

 

E3 Expo 2014 was a fantastic event with some really awesome unveils and news coming out of L.A.

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Airships Strategy Map

Airships – Promising indie RTS early-releasing Tuesday

Over the weekend we came across what looks to be a very promising little gem from indie developer Zarkonnen. Airships is an RTS where design and management are as important as strategy and tactics.

airshipThe game revolves around constructing your airship and using it to gain superiority over either your computer or other live players via an on-line connection.  The connection is currently made by manually entering your opponents IP address, but there are plans to incorporate a bespoke match-making and ladder service that will automatically connect you to games.  With that complete and released, Airships looks to be gaining the same simple yet addictive gameplay that has made Minecraft such a winner.

The game has a blocky and pixilated feel that won’t be winning any awards for its graphical depictions, but that is not the point and the game focuses rather neatly on an engaging gameplay rather than pretty pictures.  With your airship built to whatever specification you want, you need to populate it with a crew of air-sailors who will carry out the specific tasks you assign them.  These might include carrying coal for steam-powered engines, replenishing ammunition, or carrying out maintenance.  All of these tasks and many more like them are equally important, and to neglect just one of them will invite potential disaster. As you become adept at controlling your airship, you can design and build more to enhance your domination over your opponents. But, be aware of over-stretching your resources as that can leave you exposed too.   It’s a game about balance and thoughtful gameplay and looks to be a refreshing brain-teaser with plenty of scope for diversity.

While the actual game looks to be an exciting delve into strategy and forward planning, the real point of interest is the fact that this game has been developed and launched by David Stark (no relation to Tony, btw), an indie game developer based in Switzerland rather than a professional studio.  It marks the fact that game development is no longer the domain of large, professional establishments and anyone with the will and a bit of crowd-funding can now construct and launch a game that has been bouncing around the back of their mind for more years than they can remember.  Game development is now open to anyone with a bit of imagination and an understanding of programming, and that is an exciting prospect.

While looking a little too much like Minecraft and stretching credibility a tad, Airships nevertheless has caught our attention and is due for release on Windows, Mac and Linux on March 25. With Airships imminently available for the minute price of just $5, the game is a steal and a fitting addition to any PC or Mac.

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