Age of Empires (often abbreviated to AoE) is a history-based real-time strategy video game released in 1997. Developed by Ensemble Studios and published by Microsoft, the game uses the Genie, a 2D sprite-based game engine. The game allows the user to act as the leader of an ancient civilization by advancing it through four ages (the Stone, Tool, Bronze, and Iron Ages), gaining access to new and improved units with each advance. It was later ported to Pocket PCs with Windows, resulting in a version very similar to the PC game.
Originally touted as Civilization meets Warcraft, some reviewers felt that the game failed to live up to these expectations when it was released. Despite this, it received generally good reviews, and the expansion pack Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome was released in 1998. Both the original Age of Empires and the expansion pack were later released as "the Gold Edition".