Sunday, May 22, 2016

Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds Saga

Age of Empires II is probably the height that the RTS genre will ever reach. I know there's an argument in there for Blizzard's RTS games and there's probably a couple people that would fight for Command and Conquer, but they are wrong, it's Age of Empires II.

I spent hours setting up LAN parties between my brothers and I, and we would have epic three hour long battles against the A.I. I'd hold the line with Teutonic knights, keeping their annoying small groups away from our early civilizations, while my brothers constructed siege equipment before laying waste to our enemies one by one.

Around this time, we had gone all in on Star Wars.

The prequels, despite what everyone thinks of them today, were creating this fever for Star Wars. I
bought hundreds of Micromachines, the original trilogy box set on VHS, and we grabbed every videogame I could. (Even Master's of Tesas Kasi) We played hours of Rogue Squadron with a mod installed that allowed you to complete missions as the Naboo fighter.

So when I found out an Age of Empires II Star Wars mod was going to be sold at retail, I just about lost my mind.

Over the past decade, I've hovered over the "purchase" button for the original disks on eBay, never pulling the trigger, knowing eventually they would have to come to digital platforms.

And this year, it did.

The May the 4th deal on Steam means very little to me at this point because I own 90% of the Star Wars games available, but when I saw Galactic Battlegrounds in the list, I jumped.

I didn't even consider this game wouldn't live up to my nostalgia because I still find Age of Empires II to be incredibly fun.

Well, it doesn't live up to my nostalgia. The thing looks like a Vaseline smeared mess. The memories I have of zooming in on the units and being able to see every detail is no more. High definition monitors and greater video card power highlight how terrible this game looks.

Every unit is sort of blurry and I swear I can see a box around each one, giving this a very board game feel.

Despite that, the game play is actually still really solid, yet hard. They had to "sci-fi" up the names of
resources, so there was a little figuring out what the green vs purple rocks did and which was more important, and then other resources stayed the same because we know Stormtroopers need berry bushes.

The game is challenging and the AI brutal. Almost every match starts with an AI guy demanding you set your diplomacy to neutral, and if you don't, they will quickly turn enemy and send waves of guys to disrupt everything you're doing.

They bring their civilizations to level 2 quickly and start sending troopers to disrupt your resource gathering robots. Within 20 minutes they already have rudimentary siege weapons all the while, I still have robots digging through berry bushes to feed the troops.

I was hoping to have a time suck while I watched Game of Thrones, but this is not the game.  I knew going in this would probably be a case of my memories pumping this game up, but I thought I would get more out of it. And I did, The entire time I'm playing, I can't stop thinking about playing Civ 5 or Age of Empires 3, and those are great games that I don't mind playing forever.

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