Age of Empires 1
At first glance, Age of Empires looks like a cross between Civilization 2 and Warcraft II, and that is a fairly accurate comparison. Age of Empires is a real-time strategy game set in the eras from the formation of the first civilizations to the end of the iron age. Although the time period of Age of Empires limits the technology available to the player, this is compensated for by making a very detailed game world full of historical depth.
You typically start each game with a town center, a few peasants, and stone age technology. Your first priorities are building shelter and, like the good hunter/gatherer that you are, hunting and gathering food. With food and shelter, you are free to create more peasants who in turn can be sent out to chop wood, quarry stone, or mine gold. Eventually, you build more complex structures and are able to increase your technological level. Oddly, to raise your technology level, you do not assign peasants to be scientists or scribes, but instead you spend food. I have never known of a situation where food buys technological progress, perhaps the scientists won't work unless you throw a banquet.
Increased technology allows you to construct more advanced units, of which there are many. There are a total of 40 units, which is actually a great amount of detail for a historical period which ends before the renaissance. There are 7 different types of archers, 9 types of infantry, and 11 types of boats. All in all, the many types of units allows Age of Empires to very closely model the types of armies in use 2000 years ago. Age of Empires has 12 ancient civilizations available to the player. Each civilization has certain units not available, however they gain certain bonuses for whatever aspect that civilization excelled at. For example, the Greeks can produce advanced infantry more quickly, while the Persians are excellent hunters. The result is a well rounded, historically accurate sim.
The resource model of Age of Empires wins praise. Scattered across the board are many different types of resources, including berry bushes, forests, quarries, mines, wild game, and fish stocks. It is nice to see mankind's interaction with nature when gathering resources instead of the simple 'ore harvester' or whatever. You can watch your little people pick berries, cut down trees, mine gold, and hunt and butcher wild animals.
Age of Empires is great fun to play. The graphics and sound effects are of high quality for a late 90s game, and the computer is a good foe. For any fan of real-time strategy or historical simulations, I would recommend Age of Empires.