Bargain Bin: Take Over the World Edition

With all the political blundering of the past weeks, there are probably more than a few people out there who think they could run things better themselves. Well, odds are, you’re never going to get to. I certainly won’t: one of the sucky things about being born in Canada is that sad stipulation that I can never run for president. Oh well, I doubt anyone would elect a guy in a Mario shirt any ways. I mean, I could run for Prime Minister, but really who listens to the Prime Minister of Canada? Anyways, we gamers might be in the same boat as all the other Average Joes, but we do have one advantage. We might not be able to rule the world, but we can pretend to. This week’s Bargain Bin takes a look at games that let you exercise your wildest dreams of world domination, and won’t leave you trapped in a deficit in the process.

Age of Empires: The Age of Kings

There are more than a few good turn-based strategy games on the DS. Panzer Tactics DS, for instance is a great game with a lot more complexity than anything you’ll find here. It also costs a lot more. Age of Kings is great in its own way, combining simplified city building with strategic combat that actually requires you to think.

The game in conceptual terms is relatively simple. You start a mission. You have your guys, the enemy has theirs, and you duke it out until one side wins. Depending on what mode you play in, you might have objectives to accomplish.

Actually playing the game requires a whole load of attention and thought. You need to build up your city. You need to take control of resources in order to have the resources to build said city. Of course while all this is going on, you need to be fending off enemy offensives while launching your own forays into their territory. Few units are useless, and you must always be upgrading your own to stay competitive. Nothing sucks more than to find your army being decimated by a trebuchet you don’t have access to yet. Overall, the gameplay is exciting and addictive.

The game doesn’t skimp on modes to play in, either. Age of Kings features an extensive single-player mode split into separate campaigns, each being based in the history of military leaders such as Joan of Arc, Genghis Khan and Richard the Lionheart. This portion of the game is easily worth the price of admission, and will last an interested player dozens of hours as they try to navigate the increasingly difficult missions thrown at them by the game. In addition, the game also sports a customizable single-player mode based around unlockable maps and an online multi-player mode. The former is great fun, while the latter is a bit on the sketchy side due to the necessity of Wi-Fi and a lack of in-game saves in case said connection fails, but overall they’re both nice options to have.

The game does have some flaws, though. The mainline Age of Empires series is known partly for its many unique units, something that is partially lost here. The soldier types you have available to you don’t change depending on what leader you choose to fight with. A diverse crew of mercenaries can be hired, making up for it somewhat, but it does get a bit tiring having so little variety. As with many turn-based games, the game can be a slow paced at times. The enemy’s turns always seem to last three times as long as your own, which can get frustrating after some substantial play time. If there is any truly notable problems though, it’s the fact that the DS screens lack the size needed to effectively house the sheer bulk of units that show up much of the time. Things can get very crowded, and to exacerbate things, the touch screen can be a bit of a pain when trying to select a particular unit out of a crowd. Thankfully the game integrates the d-pad as well.

Age of Empires: The Age of Kings is not a perfect game, but it is one more than worth a DS owner’s money. If you’re looking for a good strategy game to use on the go, you could do far worse than this one, and for the price you’re paying, you could rarely do better.

  • (Note: used Amazon prices are subject to change)
    • Used – $13.98
  • Gamestop
    • New – $14.99
      Used – $12.99

Civilization: Revolution

One might be quick to note that I only listed the DS version. In a technical way it’s an error, because the game is available on a number of platforms. That being said, the DS version is the only one I can really call a bargain, because unless you steal the other version, they’re all going to cost you around $60. Now, don’t let the fact that the DS version is half the price of its console brethren fool you. Little besides the graphics was lost in translation, and honestl,y in a Civilization, do you really need high definition? I thought not.

There isn’t much I can say here that you probably don’t already know. Based around the monstrously addictive formula of the titular series, Civilization: Revolution is centered around the concept of building from the ground up a civilization that, under your guidance will eventually rule the world. The game gives you a lot of avenues for this. If you want, you can be a bloodthirsty warlord, sweeping your neighbors aside like proverbial dust. Or if you’re more along the lines of a hyp… I mean diplomat, you can choose to build alliances and take over the world via alliances and cultural superiority.

There are some sacrifices made for the DS version. Civilization: Revolution itself was meant to be a simplified version of the PC series, designed for shorter, less complicated games. The DS version loses even more complexity, leaving you with a stripped down version of the console game. Some might think this is a bad thing, but Age of Empires: The Age of Kings was also a stripped down version of its PC siblings and that is a great game. Sometimes simplicity isn’t a problem, and with a price tag half that of the console equivalents, it should be even less of a thing to complain about.

  • (Note: used Amazon prices are subject to change)
    • New – $29.99
    • Used – $18.98
  • Gamestop
    • New – $29.99
      Used – $24.99

Game to Avoid

When I saw Viking: Battle for Asgard for $17.99, I was pretty stoked. I had read some lousy reviews, but then, the reviews of Conan had called it average and I loved the game. Do not, under any circumstances buy this game. I don’t care if someone has a gun to your child’s head, do not hand the store clerk your money. It is that bad. It isn’t that it is devoid of any good ideas. It actually controls relatively well, and for all intents and purposes, it looks nice enough. The game just reeks of being unfinished. For instance, enemies yell to each other when they have spotted you. They yell, but no sound comes out of their mouths. One might think it some sort of magic, seeing as they are undead, but it is never elaborated on. In fact, little is; the story is a wreck with nothing to redeem it. Even the presence of a cool Nordic atom sphere does little for the game. Gameplay-wise, it’s fine for some cheap violence, but little else. The game has some nice large scale battle scenes, but they are quickly rendered lifeless once you realize the game is rigged so that you literally cannot lose. Overall, Viking is just a terrible game, deserving of its critical mauling.

Author: TGRStaff

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