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March 7, 2013

Age of Empires 2 HD announced!

Microsoft Studios have today announced that an HD edition of Age of Empires 2 is in the works. This may not come as a surprise to many who noticed that the Age of Empires Online website has featured articles and blogs about Age of Empires 2 recently *cough* Retro Sunday *cough*. With Ensemble Studios sadly closed many fans will be wondering who is developing this title. Perhaps one of the studios to form out of Ensemble? Well, no, not so I’m afraid. Microsoft Studios are working with Hidden Path Entertainment (developers of Counter Strike). That said, there is at least one Ensemble staffer on board – Mark Terrano was Lead Game Designer at Ensemble Studios during Age 2’s development. He now works as Design Director and Chief Creative Office at Hidden Path.

Age of Empires 2 HD is all about revitalising the game with improved graphics and also some new content like multiplayer on Steam.  Achievements, leaderboards and matchmaking are all part of the new and improved game. Not to mention all 18 campaign missions as the re-release includes all the content from both Age of Kings and The Conquerors Expansion pack. There is also support for user generated content which will no doubt prove very popular.

The HD graphics are a little uninspiring though. If you’re thinking about a completely revamped graphical engine you are mistaken. The “HD” is referring to improved textures and higher resolution game play. While certainly it is a welcome improvement and its great to see Age 2 re-released, the “HD” prefix seems to be over-egging things some what. You can see for yourself in the screenshot below for the kind of changes Hidden Path Entertainment are going for.


Age of Empires 2 HD comparison shot. On the left we have the original Age 2 graphics. On the right are the new "HD" graphics.

It’s certainly a game to look forward to though! Infact its available to pre-order now for just £13.99, its certainly a bargain for all the Age 2 content, the new multi-player features and improved graphics. The game is Steam exclusive and the pre-order link is here:


There is also an excellent trailer to show off the game – be sure to watch it all the way to the end for special bonus content!


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