It may be over 20 years since Age of Empires first conquered our PC screens, but the Pelasgians are still monumental gits. After a relatively straightforward time guiding the Egyptians to supremacy, the campaign mode tasks you with building a Greek state, starting with a small agricultural hub. Yet you've barely erected your town centre when those red-skirted sods come to smash it with their clubs. Guys, I'm trying to build the foundation of western culture here. Take your caveman antics elsewhere. The stone age is so last week.
Naturally those gurning Neanderthals pay no heed, constantly harrying your perfectly innocuous attempt to dominate the entire Aegean peninsula. It's almost like they don't want to be homogenised into a civilisation built on slaves that will eventually be subjugated by another civilisation built on slaves. When did imperialism get so darned difficult?
Of course, Age of Empires has always been a challenging game. It's just that my fusty old brain has forgotten what playing it is like. In my mind it's a comfort-soup game, one of whiling away hours building pretty little cities on luscious isometric maps, rather than of bringing fire and sword to all four corners of its square, two-dimensional worlds. And that's not the only thing I had apparently forgotten, as when I launched this new Definitive Edition, my first thought was "huh, it looks like Age of Empires." Then I looked up what Age of Empires actually looked like back in 1997, and realised that I can never trust my eyes again.