Like all popular PC games, Microsoft’s classic strategy game Age of Empires has been adapted for smaller screens too. After iOS, the Age of Empires: Castle Siege is now available on the Android platform as a free download with optional in-game purchases. Playing strategy games on the smaller screen can never be as intuitive as PC games, but they allow users the flexibility of playing anywhere. The game works online and requires users to sign with their Xbox Live account or Microsoft account. It takes up 350MB of space post installation, which is not much for a mobile game these days.
Gameplay: Easy to learn but difficult to play
The gameplay is similar to the original PC game, but offers fewer options and smaller maps. The player gets to build an empire from scratch by gathering resources, upgrading infrastructure and building an army to defend and attack rivals. To help players understand how the game works, the game starts with tutorials. If you have played the Age of Empires games on PCs, you can relate to a lot of the things from the start. Upgrading the keep and your buildings is critical as it takes you to more advanced ages where you gain access to more advanced weapons, soldiers and buildings.
The game also has a darker side where your kingdom gets attacked by neighbouring kingdoms. These are mostly AI-controlled and attack randomly. These attacks will be targeted at your key industrial structures to hurt your economy. You can protect these by positing your soldiers or building archer towers which automatically fire arrows when enemy soldiers approach them.
When you are carrying out attacks against an enemy kingdom, you can control your troops, heroes or battle equipment such as catapult by tapping on them and on the building on the map where you want them to attack.
It is a challenging game that involves a lot of patience. You can speed up things by spending gold coins. These coins are limited at first but as your economy grows you get more coins from your industries. You can also get coins from the in-game store by real money.
Graphics: Looks as good as PC counterpart
Even on smaller screen, the game looks as grand and lively as the PC versions. The game also allows the option to tap and zoom into the maps so you can get a better and closer look at your kingdom. The option to explore is restricted though. You can’t see your kingdom and the adjoining ones. The game opens a separate map when you want to check upon your opponent’s progress. To provide more options, the game allows players to choose from any of the six major kingdoms from the Dark Ages (between 500 to 1500 CE) such as Britons, Franks, Byzantines and Saracens. Each kingdom type has its unique set of architecture, background and troops.
For fans of strategy games who don’t have the time or patience for a full-fledged PC game, this small screen version of the Age of Empires has a lot to offer. The only limitation is that you need an active internet connection to run it.
Age of Empires: Castel Siege
Free (In-app purchases: Rs62 to Rs4,700)
Developed by Microsoft Corporation
Available on Android, iOS
Tested on Micromax Dual 5 (Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 octa-core, 4GB RAM, 128GB storage)