I missed this game so much. Although Ensemble Studios is no more, thanks to Steam and Microsoft (and Hidden Path), Age of Empires II is relaunching tomorrow! Because I had preordered it, I was able to start playing from last Friday, and it's as fun as ever.

However, there are some major problems that need to be worked out.

  • First of all, the HD part of "Age of Empires II HD" is a bit misleading. It doesn't actually have higher resolution texture. It's got what look like exactly same sprites as the original. HD screen resolution support isn't really much either because you could always tinker with the original game's configuration files to support higher screen resolution anyway. In fact, in the "HD" version, you can't change the game resolution. It's supposed to just adapt to whatever screen resolution you have, but it certainly isn't doing that for me.
  • The game's multiplayer functionality finally works on a modern Windows OS because it's running off of Steam's architecture. However, there are small kinks such as the private lobby option, which currently does not work as intended.
  • The soundtrack also resets every time you switch to another program/app during gameplay, making you hear the same song over and over.
  • The most unbearable problem, however, is the most critical one. There's a framerate bug that keeps many players from playing. For many players, there are stutters in the gameplay from the start, which gets progressively worse as you play. Me and my friends experienced this in single player and multiplayer mode and actually had to quit in one instance.

It's slightly discouraging to see many issues after so much anticipation that I've held, but the game's not officially launched yet, so I expect to see a patch soon. And they'd better do it soon. I've seen people calling for HD dev's heads and refunds already.

Anyways, the game officially launches tomorrow on Steam for Windows only.

"How do you turn this on" by Trebuxet at Deviant Art