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Age of Empires II HD: Forgotten Empires

By JcDent27-12-2013
Bis18marck70 (editor)
StuntmanLT (editor)

The Defence

Skybox Labs / Forgotten Empires LLC
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Pentium 4 1.2 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce 8400
AMD equivalent
1 GB
2 GB

The Case

Age of Empires 2 came out ages ago. Ages, I tell you! Back then I was so young and was never able to win a deathmatch, Spearman were the funniest soldier ever and I had difficulty comprehending the use of right mouse button. A magical time, truly. Well, guess what, children! After the re-release of Age of Empires 2 as AoE 2 HD, it got an expansion pack! Forgotten Empire started out as mod, but now it's a full on official AoE 2 HD goodness.

The Trial

Now, Age of Empires never had a story line, what with being historical strategy game. Instead, it had a few campaigns that centered around historical personalities. It was way more serious than Age of Empires 3's “let's blast the Fountain of Youth with a big ass cannon” adventures in the New World. So, continuing with the good trend, the game adds a few challenging campaigns of its own. Challenging is the right word here. Also? The missions were very obviously made on the map editor by people who might not have been that experienced with it. I would know, I tried making missions on Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds and that's just Age of Empires IN SPACE.

‘Grab the Monument’ was the ‘King of the Hill’ of the Middle Ages.

‘Grab the Monument’ was the ‘King of the Hill’ of the Middle Ages.

So, what else is new? How about the titular “forgotten empires”? Now, there are more obscure ones out there – in, say, Civilization V – but we can pretend that nobody has ever heard of Magyars, Indians, Slavs, Incas and Italians. They each have their own quirks. Slavs, for example, gain to do AOE (hehe) damage. Incas, on the other hand, have no cavalry, but their elites have spears so long that all pikemen start looking for pike enhancement pills. Indians have camels and elephants while the most interesting thing about Italians is that they give their allies the ability to hire Condotieros infantry (supposedly good against gunpowder units). All in all, none of them look gamebreaking and fit in well enough within the original, un-forgotten empires.

Of the new map related things – and let's be serious, you're not here to play the campaign forever – the biggest thing is the LudiKRISS map size. In context of Age of Empires, it's really ludicrously big, yet it comes with a price. 8 player games might and will eventually start causing frame rate drops. Add in the turbo random that speeds up production and resource gathering, things start getting real messy. Another game mode is a mutation of the Wonder Domination (that placed one wonder in the middle of the map that everybody tried to get) where one player starts with a wonder and has to defend it – best bring friends, because the game starts in Imperial age, where even gunpowder units are plentiful. For a more vicious melee, try Capture the Relic – which is what you need to do, with only one being present on the map. Of course, if you want an uninterrupted start (to rush imperial age, of course), there's the Treaty mode (available in multiplayer only!) that prevents players from attacking each other for a certain amount of time. All in all, fun ways to spend time for Age of Empires II enthusiasts. Now, if only the AI stopped building stuff wherever and whenever...

‘Men! Poke that construction site! Poke that construction site for the Mayan Empire!’

‘Men! Poke that construction site! Poke that construction site for the Mayan Empire!’

Shockingly enough, the mod-cum-expansion doesn’t include a bag of visual goodies. The new factions are using art assets from the older ones, which kind of fits with the whole vibe of the game: after all, everybody gets mostly the same units, with unique ones being the ones that stand out a little (and those Inca spears stand out a lot). While it would mostly be unacceptable in a modern FPS game, it works within the frame of AoE. Same goes for the building sprites - although I wish that South American castles would be something else than the big pyramids. Then again, it’s an exalted mod, you can’t want more. Once again I invoke the Lord of the Rings mod: while full of new sprites, a lot of them look out place. A good thing this didn’t happen here. So, no disappointments here.


Age of Empires II HD – Forgotten Empires is a nice mod for the game that adds more flavor (especially if you like South America and hate cavalry) while not being an obvious product of the modding community - the Lord of the Rings mod still needs work, in my opinion! Especially since Age of Empires IV is not on the horizon. And even if it were, Age of Empires III didn't leave much faith for a good sequel...

Case Review

  • Castle Age: HD looks good, even if a bit weird in Magyar case.
  • Combined Arms: the new nations have interesting stratagems.
  • Firstborn Son: feel very professional.
  • Hundred Year War: new modes and new map sizes mix it up.
  • Tapestry: LudiKRISS goes for framerate drops.
Score: 4/5
As good as mod-gone-official goes!


It was very surprising for Microsoft to give the greenlight for this classical mod to be ported over as an official expansion to the game. But what does it have to offer? It offers 5 new campaigns along with 5 new civilisations to rise up through the ages with. These are the Italians, Indians, Slavs, Magyars and Incas. Of course these were highly requested civilisations brought in with this mod-turned expansion, and they do offer some new interesting units. For example, if you want to slaughter your enemies with ease, play as the Italians and train yourself some of their fiercest warriors like the legionaries, barely anything will stand a chance when used in great numbers against other units.

Despite this, for those looking to try out the 5 new campaigns, don't expect the quality that was delivered to us already by Ensemble Studios many years ago. You can easily point out this was originally a fan made mod with some of the campaign missions with units being randomly placed in weird locations and sometimes not doing anything till you approach or attack them. The odd time, you may not be given clear instructions on how to accomplish a primary or secondary mission objective. So, there probably wasn't any work done on the original missions for the Forgotten mod, but even though they aren't the best at times, they still provide mild entertainment and can be quite challenging as some of the tougher campaign missions in Age of Kings or The Conquerors expansion.

I honestly can only recommend this expansion to hardcore fans of the Age of Empire series, or for anyone who loved the original mod. But of course, you could always ask why even bother purchasing it when it was free? The honest answer to that is there is no real benefit, apart from the upgrades and enhancements set forth in Age of Empires 2 HD in terms of graphics and a few fixes here and there.

Score: 3/5


By achrris77

Being old enough to remember when Microsoft Studios released Age of Empires back in 1997 and its sequel in 1999, the Age of Empires games have been a series that I have dabbled with over the years. Now, the second instalment has been remade in HD, and to be fair the enhancements are very nice. With a new expansion being released, the first one for over a decade, it looks like this old dog is getting some new life. The Forgotten introduces various new gameplay and tweaks to the game, which includes new modes, additional maps, technologies and five new civilisations, which in my book, can only mean making a great game even greater by giving it a modern facelift.

With the game loaded up, and the expansion selected there was the choice of the four new campaigns to select which are Alaric, Dracula, Bari, and Sforza. There are now larger maps than there used to be, so you are not feeling restricted when exploring. Added to the game are new modes, which are ‘Capture the Relic’ and ‘Treaty’. I was not particularly impressed with Treaty, which is not really new to the series, however, “Capture the Relic” was fun, as it is basically your “Capture the Flag” in FPS, just done for an RTS game. Instead of retrieving a flag, you bring back home an ancient relic, which is great for some quick-paced action.

Another thing which was apparent when playing The Forgotten, was the new AI. This time it is smarter, and does adapt to changing situations, and actually was quite up to matching my tactics, but that might just be me being rusty not played the game for around 7 years. On a serious note, the AI is improved without a doubt. Other bits added are a new observer mode, which is fun if you want to watch some online battles or just learn new strategy from fellow players. Overall, this expansion does add some new life into an old title, and it makes the game feel more up-to-date.

Score: 4/5
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Posts: 1548

Is it just me or it looks kind of...cheap?