Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings is the sequel to the award-winning, bestselling real-time strategy game Age of Empires. Age of Empires II spans a thousand years, from the fall of Rome through the Middle Ages in which players lead one of 13 civilizations into greatness. The game keeps the epic scope of Age of Empires' gameplay while evolving the combat and economic features.
- New Combat Options - Players can use garrisoning and military formations that add interesting tactical choices. Units are also smarter, with new artificial intelligence (AI) options like Guard, Patrol, and Follow as well as multiple aggression levels.
- Alternatives to Combat - Players can improve the economy of their civilization through trade and diplomacy options. In addition to gathering resources, they can trade at their own market or use trading routes with their allies. A market-based economy gives new options for players to buy, sell, and speculate on resources.
- Diverse Cultures - Gamers command one of 13 mighty civilizations. These include the Franks, Japanese, Byzantines, Vikings, Mongols, and Celts civilizations. Each civilization has unique attributes, buildings, and technologies as well as a unique combat unit based on its historical counterpart.
- Ease of Use - The William Wallace learning campaign makes it incredibly easy for new users to get started. The new two-layer interface lets players select the level of command buttons displayed based on their needs. Additionally, the game also includes production queues, rally points, customizable hot-key system, as well as expanded rollover help.
- Achieve Victory in Many Ways - In contrast to the linear gameplay found in other real-time games, Age of Empires II lets gamers choose one of several ways to achieve world domination and ultimate victory: Domination of enemy civilizations, economic victory through accumulation of wealth, and building and defending wonders of the world.
- Choose a Technology Path - Age of Empires II lets gamers choose from numerous technological paths to help lead their civilization to greatness. From an economic path of farming and craftsmanship to a military route of siege and naval warfare, the game comes with a technology tree that has more than 100 nodes, larger than one player could possibly complete in just one game.
- Multiplayer Game Support - Internet play for up to eight players via the MSN Gaming Zone, over a LAN or modem to modem.
- Story based campaigns focus on historical figures and their struggles like William Wallace, Joan of Arc, Genghis Khan, Barbarossa, and Saladin bring the player much deeper into the game as they strive with the hero to victory.
- A new expert system driven computer player with artificial intelligence providing a solitaire opponent who seems human.
- Maps are larger which adds to the sense of exploration and allows more options for extended play particularly in multiplayer.
- The very popular Random map generator brings unlimited replay value for both multiplayer and single player.
- In addition to the traditional Deathmatch option, there is a new gameplay mode: Regicide, where players have to protect their Queen or King while they try to assassinate the enemy one.
- A Map editor extends also the gameplay by allowing users to create and exchange scenarios or link them into campaigns.