The New Age of Empires for my New Age?
August 4, 2012 7:21 PM   Subscribe

The last computer game I enjoyed (years ago) was Age of Empires: Rise of Rome. I'm a 'man' now and have a Retina MacBook; what's the closest new thing to that?

I read that this is a 'RTS' game of sorts; I've seen StarCraft when a housemate became terribly addicted and wasted several months becoming a top 10% player. I don't want that; I'm not even much of a gamer, just want something of a distraction that isn't a TV show and gets me re-familiarized with what video games are.

What's the new jam?
posted by tmcw to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There's a free to play Age of Empires mmo.
posted by DeltaForce at 7:25 PM on August 4, 2012

Starcraft can still be pretty fun if you are okay with sucking. Online play is laddered, so you get matched against people at your own level, and if you just want to fuck around and not worry about improving it is still fun. Plus, there's a mac version which sadly is still a problem for games.

A more general piece of advice: download Steam, either on Mac or dual-booting Windows. It's got a huge selection of games that are constantly going on sale, and you can probably find something you'd like just by browsing around the strategy section. A much better experience than trying to buy games on disc.
posted by vogon_poet at 7:34 PM on August 4, 2012

Piggy-backing on vogon_poet's suggestion (yes, get Steam), check out Good Old Games' strategy section for Windows RTS games.

For Mac, the Civilization series might be worth a look as well. It's turn-based, but a solid series.

In the Older-and-harder-to-find category, the Homeworld series is fantastic. For newer games, SPAZ is getting good reviews.
posted by youknowwhatpart at 8:54 PM on August 4, 2012

Age of Empires was a big gateway into gaming for me, too. Well, AoE2, actually, but still. What I liked about that game was all of the stuff there was to explore in it - all the unique units and weird stuff in the single player campaigns. Rise of Nations is, I think, the truest "spiritual successor" to the AoE games, maybe even more so than AoE3. RoN is just an *awesome* game and tl;dr despite its age, it would probably be my top recommendation.

There's been a big split in the RTS genre, with Starcraft championing the high-skill-ceiling, 200-clicks-a-minute type of game (though there are many others in this category).

On the other side, I don't think there's a champion with such a constant and dominating presence, but there's always someone who wants to talk about "putting the S back in RTS." Years ago it was Chris Taylor with Supreme Commander, though his emphasis ended up being more on sheer scale. SupCom is great (though avoid SupCom 2 like the plague) but if you build the enormous armies it allows you might start to strain your hardware. I don't know Mac specs very well.

Somewhat more recently there was Chris Park with AI War. If you're not all that interested in playing against other people (not sure if you meant to imply that in your question), you can spend quite a bit of time commanding the last forces of humankind in the galaxy trying to outwit AI War's... well, its AI.

Last but not least, if it's the period warfare that interests you, the Total War series has solid entries covering most of history up to the Industrial Age. It's not strictly an RTS because there's a strategic world map that you move around on in turns, but the battles are real time, and the series does dodge the "hmm, how did I wipe out the French with... uh... 20 swordsmen?" question that's inherent to AoE. If that kind of thing bothers you, I mean.
posted by doubleozaphod at 9:25 PM on August 4, 2012

Company of Heroes is a superb RTS that is old enough it should be fine on a Macbook, though obviously check.

Let me speak up in defense of Starcraft 2. The thing about Starcraft 2 is it has a very sophisticated matching algorithm that's designed to match you up with people around your skill level once you play a few games and it figures out how good you are, if you want to play multiplayer. If you don't, there's a full single player campaign (with 2 more in the pipeline) that is really good, then skirmishes with the AI, then training scenarios that you can practice to learn the mechanics or grind away on for achievements. You don't have to go at it all hardcore and try to hit top 10%.

If you want an oddball suggestion, Darwinia and Multwinia are a lot of fun, though nowhere near the new hotness.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:18 PM on August 4, 2012

Are you trying to play on MacOS or are you willing to Bootcamp for Windows? The Mac catalog is limited. OTOH Bootcamp is a PITA. I'll limit my answer to MacOS games. Be aware that the Retina display is presenting a challenge to some Mac games, nothing much has been tested with it. Also I've heard reports that Mountain Lion's graphics drivers have some performance issues compared to Lion.

Starcraft 2 is the closest thing to AoE that's a new game. You've dismissed it because it's too demanding, but it doesn't have to be. You can play casual games against the AI at whatever difficult you want and just have fun.

If you don't care that it's a real time game, I strongly recommend Civilization V with the Gods & Kings expansion. Buy it via Steam, not the App Store. There's a free demo to see if you like it. It's really great.

Totally left-field suggestion but a lot of people love Minecraft. You may find it a fun diversion. Also The Sims 3 is an entertaining dollhouse sort of thing.
posted by Nelson at 9:10 AM on August 5, 2012

I have always been a big AoE fan.

If you like AoE1 than you should certainly like Age of Kings. Of course make sure you have the expansion and whatever that minor update is. It should all come together in the golden edition now. I know there is a mac edition, and wow, does it look expensive with initial amazon research.

Starcraft II is supposed to be good, it is probably the best modern equivalent, but I have never played it.

Other games I would recommend would be Portal 1/2 and Minecraft. They both run on macs and they are both AMAZING.

And yes, even though only one of those(Portal) runs on Steam, get that too.
posted by Folk at 10:54 PM on August 5, 2012

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