We love Microsoft’s and Ensemble Studios’ Age of Empires series. Those games are so well designed, they hold up even more than a decade after release. Just ask Sam, who reviewed spin-off Age of Mythology: Extended Edition, a spruced up version of the original game. Microsoft has been giving the series some love lately, cleaning up and releasing the Age of Empires games on Steam. Could it be gearing up for a proper sequel? A recent job listing gives us reason to hope that it is.
Microsoft game studios
Many will tell you that Project Spark is a more powerful version of the PS3's Little Big Planet. We know the truth, though: it's a cutesy Garry's Mod, and as such is far less likely to responsible for the likes of this. Or this.
In fact, if you're not using Windows 8, it will be responsible for very little - the game appearing exclusively on Microsoft's latter OS and XBONE console. If you are running that most tile-centric of systems, however, you'll be able to exercise the spark of creativity through a beta test that's now taking sign-ups.
Windows 8 is a confused thing, so it’s little surprise to find that Halo: Spartan Assault is too. Like the operating system to which it’s tied, it’s been designed to work on smartphones, tablets and PCs but doesn’t entirely convince on any of them –jack of all trades and Master Chief of none.
PC users are spared the touchscreen version’s virtual controls, but it’s impossible to escape the feeling that you’re playing a topdown twin-stick shooter that doesn’t support twin sticks. Controller support is promised, but its absence is keenly felt here, especially when you hop in one of Spartan Assault’s vehicles and find it can only move in eight directions.
In 14 years, your average video game franchise has a fairly decent shot at hitting a double-digit sequel number. It's not really in vogue to go back and simply keep adding content to an older game—so who ever thought that, a decade and a half after its original release, Age of Empires 2 would receive an official expansion? It's true, and it's happening courtesy of Microsoft Studios, which is supporting the team behind the fan-made mod Forgotten Empires to bring new content to the classic strategy game's HD release.
Dust: An Elysian Tail, the side-scrolling anthropomorphic action RPG, has finally been swept from its XBLA home, and blown over to the PC chimney... And yes! I can continue this naff metaphor, introducing Steam as the gust of wind that's carrying it towards its release later today, when it'll finally settle on the shelf of... er... damn it. Pushed it too far.
You can't see my face right now, but it's contorted into an expression of bemused bewilderment. That's because of an interview by ShackNews with the excellently named Matt Booty, Microsoft's "general manager of Redmond Game Studios and Platforms". In it, he distances the company's Windows game strategy away from the perception of the "more traditional desktop PC game," heavily suggesting that the majority of the Xbox One's "15 exclusives" won't be arriving on Microsoft's other platform.
Age of Empires II: HD Edition has been out a little over a week, and has scarcely left the Top 5 best-selling titles on Steam since. It hasn't all been sunshine and mutton dinners with the polished-up classic, however, as the realities of getting such a dated engine to run on modern machines has caused some quirks. A patch is now available for beta opt-in that, notably, fixes framerate issues on higher-end machines.
Well, this is a pleasant surprise: Age of Empires II: HD Edition is live on Steam for anyone who pre-ordered—apparently it has been as of the 5th. The store page still says it won't unlock for about another 17 hours, but the game launches fine, and all modes seem to be available. Since buying it now is still technically a pre-order, you should just be able to hand over your e-cash and get immediate access. It's essentially a soft release.
The rumors were true. Age of Empires II HD (which includes the content from the Conquerors expansion) is coming to Steam in April. And it's been aged up to the Modern Era (courtesy of Hidden Path Entertainment), with a host of tweaks and new features. We've got more details and a graphical comparison below.
There’s a guard in my way. I need to get to the air vent he’s stoically defending, and there’s about ten yards of well-lit room between him and the shadow-shrouded gantry I’m hiding in.
This is a serious problem. Not because I can’t figure out a way to stalk past the dunce and continue on my journey through to the top of this mercenary-infested skyscraper, you understand. Quite the opposite, in fact. There are just so many options at my disposal that I’m struggling to choose one.
All work has ceased on free to play flight sim, Microsoft Flight. A report on Kotaku mentions lay-offs at Microsoft's Vancouver studio, and Microsoft has since confirmed that there will be no more updates for the game as a result, though the client will still be downloadable for those who want to try it.
"Microsoft Studios is always evaluating its portfolio of products to determine what is best for gamers, families and the company, and this decision was the result of the natural ebb and flow of our portfolio management," they said in a statement.
A Lionhead developer has voicing his thoughts on piracy, saying that he sees second hand sales on consoles as a bigger problem than piracy on PC. "There are a lot of honest people out there," he says, "if they like your game they'll buy it."
When Fable 3 hits PC on May 20, it won't just be confined to Microsoft's Games for Windows Live service. It will also be available to buy through Steam. The game will be available to buy digitally on both platforms, and will come with different bonuses. Given that Microsoft own Lionhead, the appearance of a game on any service other than Games for Windows Live is an interesting shift.
In a recent interview we spoke with creative director of Microsoft and former head of Lionhead, Peter Molyneux, about his views on Steam and Games for Windows Live. "Steam is such a great service, I use it all the time, they did such a great pioneering job," he says, adding that "with Steam and Games for Windows Live. There’s a lot of direct to disc, there’s lots of services that mean the PC is really pioneering the way."
More information has emerged today on Age of Empire's latest reincarnation as a free-to-play, massively multiplayer online strategy game with upgradeable capital cities, player trading and co-op missions. Read on for details
Microsoft has admitted that it needs to "step up" on the PC front. Dave Luehmann, Microsoft Game Studio's general manager, has said, "Other companies should look to Microsoft for leadership, but I’m not sure they do. It is our job to lead the way on PC." How do you reckon they should do that, then?
Microsoft have just announced Age of Empires Online at Gamescom. It's a PC exclusive - an RTS played in your browser that looks to be a cross between your Evony-type strategy games and the traditional RTS format that made Age of Empires great. Trailer below:
We're live at Gamescom, where Microsoft have just revealed two new PC games. Insane, I know. They're revivals of two classic franchises. Age of Empires and Flight Sim, named Age of Empires Online and Microsoft Flight respectively.
Update: Microsoft's Phil Spencer has said this about their "return to PC gaming" at Gamescom: