The Age of Empires series was launched on October 26, 1997. It was developed by Ensemble Studios and published by Microsoft Game Studios. The series focuses on historic, real-time strategy gameplay in which players can lead different cultures, progress them through different stages of development (such the Stone Age and Classical period) and eventually lead them to conquer their enemies.
Age of Empires
Age of Empires was the first major release by Ensemble Studios and one of the first real-time strategy games to be set in the ancient world. It features 12 civilizations that the player can carry through various stages of development, starting from the Stone Age and ending at the Iron Age. The player must harvest resources across the map to purchase units, buildings and vehicles. New technology can also be researched, and after certain requirements are met, the player can upgrade to a higher age of development. Wonders can also be built, and though they do not produce units or give new upgrades, they can win the match for the player if the building stands for 15 minutes (the equivalent of 2,000 years of game time). An expansion called Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome was released featuring the addition of four new civilizations: Carthaginian, Macedonian, Palmryan and Roman.
Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings
Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings was released on September 30, 1999. This edition is set in the Middle Ages, and progresses through the Dark Ages to the Imperial Age. It added 13 new civilizations including the Britons, Goths, Japanese, and the Turks. Its expansion was called Age of Empires: The Conquerers and it added new game modes like Defend the Wonder, King of the Hill and Wonder Race. It also had improved A.I. so that idle villagers will automatically gather resources and depleted farms will be replenished on their own. The single-player had four historical campaigns letting the player control Attila the Hun, Montezuma, and El Cid.
Age of Empires III
The next release was Age of Empires III and it was the first game in the series to use the Havok physics engine. It featured eight civilizations between 1421 and 1850, and introduced home cities which provide resources, reinforcements, and upgrades. Its expansion was called Warchiefs, which featured several native American tribes which use a tribal council instead of a home base. It was followed by the an expansion called Asian Dynasties (Developed by Big Huge Games) that added India, China, and Japan. Dynasties also included new game modes, including: Regicide, King of the Hill, Treaty, and No-Blockade.
Age of Mythology
The Age of Empire series eventually spun-off the Age of Mythology series. They shared many similar gameplay aspects, but Age of Mythology focused more on the supernatural and mythology of each of the various cultures. The player controls the armies of Greece, Egypt, and the Norse. The expansion pack, called The Titans, features the Atlantean as a playable race along with the ability to summon a race specific titan when the resource requirements were met.
Age of Empires: The Age of Kings
In 2006 Backbone Entertainment developed a turn-based game for the Nintendo D.S. called Age of Empires: The Age of Kings. The game combined many of the elements found in the Age of Empires series with gameplay indicative of many other turn-based strategy games.