Game Review - by StormDaemon
The saga of Imperialism continues with Imperialism II: Age of Exploration, a game that will require cunning, strategy, quick thinking, and patience in order to gain control of the world. High quality graphics and sounds combine with great strategy to produce a truly strategic game that involves military might, trading, diplomacy, and exploration. Not only will you have to explore new lands and deal with foreign people, but you'll also have to deal with vicious and cunning Old World rules trying to get the biggest stake in the world, and they won't hesitate to stab you in the back.
Imperialism II has a great amount of land to explore, people to deal with, and units to manage. All of that plus a number of things to keep track of such as trading and diplomatic relations will keep any wannabe monarch busy for a good long time in their quest for dominance. Featuring over 40 different units, the amount of selection available is great and allows for maximum strategy. Diplomacy, trading, exploration, and technological development are more features that add a lot to the whole strategic experience.
In order to make a good strategy game, a number of certain elements have to be present within that game. While the definition of a good game can't be truly defined, a game is usually called good if it has complex elements that provide for a good immersion into a fun experience. Imperialism II does just that. With all of the available options, the game allows for a serious strategist to immerse his or her self into a complex world. While exploration is a must, and is talked about a great deal, building up a country from within is the way to go, and that is generally the main focus of the game. Dealing with other countries, whether peacefully with trade or hatefully with war is secondary, even though at times it is necessary. No simple shoot and kill strategy will get you control of the world, it will just get you under the control of another monarch. Whether through truthful dealings or underhanded backstabbing, the use of strategy is a must when dealing with others.
Playing the game is simple once you get the hang of it. Until that time though, it is rather difficult to figure out what to do, and especially how to do it. The learning curve is not at all easy, and luckily there is a tutorial included in the game, even though it doesn't do too great of a job explaining everything. It does tell you what you should do, but in order to find out what exactly to do, you have to dig around for that information. The control of the units and game information usually require going through several buttons or screens and gets a little annoying after a while. Other than that, the control is fine and you get used to it after a while.
Imperialism II has high-resolution graphics that really look good, even though the animations are kept rather simple. The maps are detailed and have lots of different tiles, which give the feel of a real continent. Every unit is detailed looking and looks authentic for its time period. The entire game itself is authentic for the time period because of the way everything, including the menus, looks. Most of the menus tend to look like scrolls and some even have seals and such. Ornate detailing surround just about everything, and the drawings that act as backgrounds or general artwork are really well done and look like they came straight from the old world itself.
The sound effects and music in the game were very good and had the whole theme of the Old World pervading throughout every note. During the game, old music could be heard playing, and it helped to bring out the theme of colonialism and majesty that occurred at that time. While the sound effects themselves were few within the game, they simulated the sounds of units doing whatever they were meant to do, and that job was accomplished rather well. Ambiance was not a problem at all with Imperialism II because the musicians who created the sounds were good at their jobs and that certainly shows throughout the game.
Imperialism II: Age of Exploration is a highly detailed strategy game that actually has good graphics and sounds. With enough detail and complexity to satisfy the most intense strategist, it still is fun enough for a person who might want to try out a game just for the fun of it. The graphics are detailed and look good, though the animations need a bit of work, and the sound is really good, especially the music, which sounds very old worldish. Though a bit difficult to learn at first, and sometimes unwieldy to play at times, it is fun and interesting to play. The bottom line is that if you love strategy you'll love this game.