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Let's compare the venerable and excellent Age of Empires 2 (Age of Kings+The Conquerors Expansion) to Age of Empires Online launching in 08/2011. So I cherished AOE2 (so successful that it was ported to PS2 and Nintendo which is a extraordinary for a PC RTS game) and I was glad to hear about AOEO.
BUT honestly, after reading about their paying plan and screenshots of internal item store, I won't touch this, it's an ugly money grab.
For instance you had *18* nations (13 without the expansion) in AOK, you have *2* in AOEO, the other civilizations you'll have to buy. You have to pay to develop decently your capital city. If you don't pay you will be stuck with a sub-par city and useless loot after 7 quests and have to throw it out because you must pay for additional stores. You must pay to enhance your equipment. You must pay to build workshops. You must pay to unlock your counselors and special units. You must pay to access rare items. You must pay to access your complete civilization technological tree, etc, etc, etc.
You'll need to pay 102 euros for 6 months of contents, if you don't, you are disadvantaged or are playing a half-game. The Greek civlilization for instance costs 24 euros, a mission costs 12 euros, ONE decoration type (trees, fountains) costs 6 euros. Do they really intend to unlock 18 civilizations slowly and have you pay for each one of them? It's ridiculously MORE EXPENSIVE THAN THE ORIGINAL SIMILAR AGE OF KINGS THAT HAD 18 CIVILIZATIONS. It's MORE EXPENSIVE than full AAA MMO's. Just calculate by yourself!
"Online" really? This "Online" tag is so convenient nowadays. Age of Empires was single-player + ONLINE multiplayer since 1999, you could play FREELY with 8 other players all day long on fast and stable servers with co-op, duels, teams; because not so long ago, you see, playing online a retail box game was FREE, you hadn't to pay anything on top of your COMPLETE retail box.
Graphics weren't childish in AOK, now they are, a silly mix of anime and general cartoony direction of flash/facebook games. Are we all 5 years old or what? This RTS is about war, can we please have "realistic" isometric graphics like in good old days before casual noobs invaded our servers, did stupid things and chatted to have 10 minutes fun before logging off? Seriously replace the weapons of those toons by spades or guitars, no one would notice.
On a side not, I remember bitterly the day Ensemble Studios were closed by Microsoft, to be replaced now by another studio but this is another story, at least Ensemble had no say in this horrible use of the IP they so well served and honoured.
TO SUM IT UP, AGE OF EMPIRES ONLINE IS ASKING YOU TO PAY FOR THINGS THAT WERE FOREVER FREE IN THE COMPLETE VERSION OF THE GAME IN 2001 AND IS TRYING TO LOOK LIKE A SORT OF F2P MMORTS WHICH IT ISN'T AND THAT SHOULD IN THE EYES OF THE GREEDY PEOPLE IN CHARGE JUSTIFY THE ASTRONOMICAL SUMS THEY ARE ASKING YOU TO PLAY A COMPLETE GAME.