The New Age of Empires Likely Isn't What You Were Hoping For

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A new Age of Empires game has been announced and will be available in September, Microsoft announced today. However, it's likely not the sort of continuation that fans of the real-time-strategy series were hoping for, as the new game--Age of Empires: Castle Siege--is a mobile/PC game that strongly resembles Clash of Clans.

Available for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 devices, Castle Siege has been designed with touch controls in mind. According to a post on the PlayXBLA blog, it "brings a fast-paced experience to touch-based screens while delivering all the strategy and combat Age of Empires is renowned for."

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Today's announcement didn't provide much indication of what elements have been retained from the old games. The description of what players do--build up a city, defend it against attackers, and attack online players' castles--sounds more than a little like Clash of Clans, rather than previous Age of Empires games. The visuals have a decidedly cartoon-y look, and the presence of in-app purchases--this is a free-to-play game--are likely to turn off some players.

The six civilizations the game "starts off with" all return from previous games, including the Britons and the Teutonic Order (my personal favorite from the Age of Empires II days). Heroes like Charlemagne and Richard the Lionheart will be available for use at times, and you'll be able to connect with friends through Xbox Live to compete and compare leaderboard rankings. Progress is saved to your Gamertag, allowing for cross-platform play across Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 devices.

The last original Age of Empires game to be released was Age of Empires Online in 2011, which was taken offline last month. Age of Empires II was re-released in the form of an HD Edition last year, and a mobile game, Age of Empires: World Domination, was announced earlier this year and is coming this fall. Ensemble Studios, the developer responsible for the earlier games in the series (as well as Halo RTS Halo Wars) was shut down in 2009. Earlier this year, Microsoft was hiring developers for a new entry in a "well-loved" strategy series, but we still don't know exactly what project that was for.

What do you make of this new Age of Empires? Will you give it a try for old times' sake, or you only interested in a new Age of Empires that resembles the older games? Let us know in the comments.

Chris Pereira is a freelance writer for GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @TheSmokingManX
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