The Age of Empires
It's hard for me to express just how much I love the Age of Empires franchise. When I bought my first "just for me" PC more than a decade ago, I couldn't leave the store without a copy of the original Age of Empires. I installed it even before I did Office, and I certainly spent more time using it than I did Office.
It was the first game I ever played PvP. I still have the archaic Ethernet hub I bought just for that purpose. My best friend and I spent hours throwing waves of ballistae, and throngs of priests at each other. And don't forget the War Elephants. I still wonder at how dumb a spear hurler has to be to hear "WOLOLO," and think to himself; "That's a very convincing theological argument. I'm joining your side!"
When Age of Kings came out, it got even worse. For someone like me, who loves Medieval History, and loses all concept of time while playing an RTS, it was like someone saying. "Here's your regular Meth, but now we've added crack. Because, we know what our customers like." The closest I ever came to liking the French was when I was playing as the Franks in AoK. I also remember arguments about the correct pronunciation of Trebuchet. The French again! Curse them.
The Star Wars game based on the Age of Kings engine took all of my free time for months. It was a classic chocolate and peanut butter moment. It was one of those rarest of things; A good Star Wars game. This series has my favorite cheat code character -Simon the Killer Ewok. There's nothing quite like the feeling of commanding an army of ravenous (in my mind, at least) cannibal Ewoks to destroy a Gungan base.
I've never had a bad experience with an Age of Empires game. I bought the collectors editions of AoE III, and Age of Mythology. Those, along with Warcraft III, are the only games I've ever judged worthy of that extra expense.
When, this last week, they finally previewed Age of Empires Online on XPlay, I was optimistic. If the franchise could survive the kiss of Star Wars, after all, it could survive the transition to an online format. And I'm still optimistic, but now rather more cautiously. The graphics are more cartoonish than in previous iterations, and the Free-to-Play mechanics weren't explained to my liking. But for all of that, it still looked like Age of Empires. I am also very happy with the two starter civilizations: Greek, and Egyptians.
In any case, whatever my reservations, I'll play it. The previous games alone make it worth the $49.99 of a standard new release. And this is Free! My hope is this is a harkening back to what made the franchise great, not Microsoft's version of Farmville.