But despite everything a new AoE (as all the cool kids are calling it) has popped out. And this time it's online and free.
AoE remains an RTS (Real Time Strategy) game. It's always had quite a strong single player story mode and AoE Online retains that approach. You've got a bunch of missions to complete and they will all involve you constructing buildings, gathering resources and training new personnel. Oh and you'll need to kill stuff too, obviously. So far, so familiar. At the start of the game you're invited to choose a race and straight away you hit the pay-wall; one of the races can't be played unless you pay up. You can play the entire game without paying a penny, but players who invest are able to gain access to advisor units and other advantages and you've got to wonder how that would work in a player versus player match, though I haven't tried PvP yet.
The graphics are jolly and cute and really add to the feel of the game. The missions are a bit samey and repetitive. You'll chug through the starter missions waiting for the main game to get going and it never really does. The game will constantly bug you to pay for stuff (one of the very first missions gives you a reward that you can't use unless you pay) and paying is ridiculously expensive: £3.25 for each thing (the price for races will be double that after a promotional period) even when they're useless shit like bushes to decorate your home screen. And you're forced to use that fucking awful Games for Windows crap too. It's a good game, but when it used to be a great one, you have to wonder what went wrong. Yep, this is what happens when you catch Microsoft disease.
Get it free on Steam:
A lot of games like to use the 8-bit aesthetic at the moment, but Alter Ego isn't messing around. Available for the PC, NES, MSX and ZX Spectrum, this really is a proper 8-bit game and no mistake. Essentially the free forerunner to the recently released 8-Bit Night, Alter Ego is a simple platform game with an extra game mechanic.
You jump around on the platforms as usual, but you have a shadow self... an alter ego, if you will... whom you don't control directly but with whom you can swap places at any time, thus allowing you access to otherwise unreachable parts of the screen. It reminds me a fair bit of VVVVVV and is just as satisfying to play.
Go here to get it for PC, NES, MSX or indeed the ZX Spectrum: