Microsoft “Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings” Catapults Onto Store Shelves

REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 18, 1999 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that
“Age of Empires® II: The Age of Kings TM ,” the sequel to its best-selling, award-winning real-time strategy computer game, is now available at U.S. retail outlets, with worldwide availability planned for later next month. One of the most anticipated computer games of the year, Microsoft® “Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings,”
spans 1,000 years, from the fall of Rome through the Middle Ages, and challenges players to lead one of 13 civilizations into greatness.

Developed by Ensemble Studios of Dallas,
“Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings”
retains the epic scope and accessibility that helped the
“Age of Empires”
game series to sell over 3 million licensed units worldwide while improving on the game’s combat and economic trade features. Featuring the design expertise of Bruce Shelley, co-creator of such game classics as
“Railroad Tycoon,”
the game combines stunning graphics with the drama and intrigue of the Middle Ages. Beginning with minimal resources, players are challenged to build their nations into great civilizations and defeat the enemy by making strategic decisions throughout the game.

“The first ‘Age of Empires’ really struck a chord among gamers. Not only did 3 million fans around the globe acquire the game, but hundreds of them spent their time building dedicated Web sites for it,”
said Ed Fries, general manager of the Microsoft Games Group.
“During the development of ‘Age of Empires II’ these loyal fans provided us with all sorts of ideas on how to make their favorite game even better as we brought it into a new era – the Middle Ages.”

“Microsoft’s highly anticipated Age of Empires II: Age of Kings appears to exceed gamers expectations,”
said Bob McKenzie, director of merchandising for Babbage’s Etc.
“We are looking forward to enjoying strong sales from this title throughout the upcoming holiday selling season. It’s a winner!”

With its ambitious yet user-friendly design,
“Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings”
offers depth and balance that appeals to the casual gamer and rewards devoted players of
“Age of Empires”
with new and improved features:

  • Thirteen diverse cultures. Players now have the chance to command one of 13 great civilizations, including the Mongols, Celts, Vikings and Japanese. Each civilization features distinctive attributes, buildings and technologies as well as a unique combat unit based on its historical counterpart.

  • Historically based campaigns. Joan of Arc, William Wallace, Genghis Khan, Frederick Barbarossa and Saladin are some of the prominent historical figures whose adventures are featured in the engaging story lines. Realistic historical details draw players deeper into the game as they march alongside the hero to victory.

  • Improved gameplay. Players can now use garrisoning and military formations for more tactical choices, an enhancement of the gameplay experience found in
    “Age of Empires.”
    A more sophisticated artificial intelligence provides a computer opponent that seems human.

  • Many ways to achieve victory. In contrast to the linear gameplay found in most real-time strategy games, players can achieve victory in
    “The Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings”
    in many ways. Players can rely on aggressive combat tactics or devise a strategy based on trade and diplomacy to expand their civilizations.

“Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings”
supports Internet multiplayer gaming for up to eight players on the MSN TM Gaming Zone ( ). The estimated retail price of
“Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings”
is $49.95 (U.S.). More information is available at the official Web site, , or on the Ensemble Studios Web site for developers at .

About Microsoft Games

Microsoft develops and publishes top-quality PC games that excite the imagination of the casual gamer and appeal to the passions of the hard-core player. The company works with some of the best game developers in the industry to create top-selling game titles, including
“Flight Simulator,” “Age of Empires,” ”
Links TM ,” “MechWarrior® ”
and the award-winning
line of racing titles. Microsoft supports the largest Internet audience of multiplayer gamers, via its MSN Gaming Zone.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

“Age of Empires,” “The Age of Kings,”
MSN and
are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

MechWarrior is a registered trademark of FASA Corp. and Microsoft Corp. All rights reserved.
Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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