Age of Vampires - Blood Reign in Transylvania
(Updated on 09/17/18
This mod pack uses Agamemnon's skeleton mod, dark_blade's bats mod and ROR_Sir_Williams dragon mod. Detailed credits are provided!
Currently Age of Vampires is a complete conversion, portraying a fantasy world inspired by Slavic mythology, Hungarian and Romanian history and Victorian age horror literature. Offers 7 mythical factions with 3 distinct building sets, several unique units, techs and buildings.
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This mod by Khan Ivayl changes the 5 civilizations from The COnquerors expansion (Huns, Spanish, Koreans, Mayans, and Aztecs) to Vampires, Werewolves, and Vampire Hunters (Bathory Clan, Dracul Clan, Vrolak, Transylvanians, and the Van Helsings). The amount of progress made on this mod from its first upload as an inside joke to its final place as a legitimate conversion has been great to see. This mod replaces an entire set of buildings, introduces a number of new units and technologies, and gives 5 new, unique civilizations, complete with history files and units and technologies to boot.
Usefulness - 4
This mod is, as the author says, mostly an inside joke. It's not extremely useful, aside from some very specialized scenarios. Including English language files is a step up from the first version in this category. With the expansion to 5 civilizations and multiple new units and technologies, as well as new buildings and editor objects, this conversion could actually be used for a number of scenarios and/or campaigns revolving around pretty much anything Vampire-related.
Novelty - 5
This is definitely a very unique piece. I can honestly say I've never seen a mod like this before and I found it very fun to see all the ideas Khan Ivayl had and put in this work.
Quality - 4.5
This is now, after many updates, quite a good mod. The only things holding this back from a 5 rating is that there are still some minor bugs. Overall though, they are small enough not to detract form the xperience of the game. A few anchors are still a little off (much better than before, however), and there are a few language edits that could be made (ie, language files still reference "Monks" instead of "Witches."). Overall though, the quality of the work that has been done makes these small problems almost insignificant.
In terms of the data and language files, I was pleased by how thoroughly the author replaced the Aztecs and Mayans. The computer opponent names are replaced, the ages have been renamed, and data edits were made to better fit the new units while still remaining balanced.
Instructions - 4.5
In my book, an custom installer is the best thing that can happen to a mod. It makes it absurdly easy to install, and assuming there's an uninstall as well, easy to remove when you're done. No file-shifting is needed and a first-time mod user can use it. The only thing holding this back is that after using the uninstall, I was missing a couple of the intro music when starting a RM game (Huns, Korean, and Spanish), and the Mayan and Aztec intros were the Vampire/Werewolf versions. This is, again, a very minor problem and is not, in my eyes, a glaring problem.
Usefulness/Novelty - 4.5
Quality/Instructions - 4.5
In summary: This is a fun modpack, and compared to earlier versions, is a vast improvement. I highly recommend downloading this if you're planning on anything that has to do with Vampires and Werewolves. I especially loved the Headless Dracula and new wolves (I find the blueish gray a much more appealing color than the greenish color they have in the original AoK). In short: Download. Play. Enjoy.
[Edited on 12/29/11 @ 05:06 PM]
Mod packs transforming the entire game's aesthetics and offer new experiences are probably the most delightful ones.
"Age of Vampires" is a great example, altering the standard way of the game's looking to an interesting, spooky feeling of it.
It has been a long time since "Age of Chivalry" first came to light showing the game's capabilities to the maximum. "Age of Vampires" comes next, been innovative and presenting the so-called vampires' life.
Vampires have empires-amazing and amusing at the same time!
You are able to possess one of the 5 vampire civilizations (Van Helsing Guild, Vrkolak, Transylva, Dracul Clan or Bathory Clan) and experience the growth of your civilization in different conditions: Graves are your Houses, human remains is your food, your buildings are horrifically decorated...and so on. Two of them, however, have assimilated such changes the least.
Skeletons, batmen and dark Knights may be your main army. It is even possible not to find oaks or pine trees, but dead trees (this is the expected thing to find in a vampire civ's world).
In general, a non-humane place to live and interesting battles among vampires.
This mod pack is considered to act like the original game-same purposes, ability to play random maps, scenarios or with others via Internet/LAN etc. , so there is merely the need of installing it, without raising questions or worries about it. The fact it is just a one-click install/uninstall process is simply an excellent adding!
Let us have a closer look in the game: Three of the five civilizations' buildings are decorated with human bodies and dead trees, sometimes skeletons may also exist. Blood is a special characteristic to all of them...
Furthermore, the civs' technologies: They are more or less the same, but there are some new fitting each civ's distinctivenesses. It happens, though, that some of them are probably not working. Such are the "Garlic Soup" of Transylva and "Ïpen the Gates" of Dracul Clan... Referring to all the 5 civs, the "Man-N-Arms" upgrade is useless, and the interesting "Engineer" unit (been created in Barracks) does not exist in the Tech Tree.
As we have a general look of the environment, we can easily notice the changes: Transylvanian wolf instead of the simple wolf, forage bushes are replaced by human remains, sheep and turkeys are changed to Maids and Fat Men (the latter exist mostly in Transylvania, Random Map). Last but not least, the dead trees (or Evil Trees, differently spelled): Many of the Random Maps support these kind of trees. Some examples are Arabia, Nomad, Continental and Transylvania (the last one is full of these, be careful or else bats may eat you!)
The first updates of the mod pack included the nice Dragon mod, which is not found anymore. The fact is, it is been replaced by a non-fitting turtle ship ( i do not know if i must have the specific mod installed, but i did not need to at previous releases of "Age of Vampires". :S )
"Age of Vampires" is a must for everyone (unless dead bodies and blood is not someone's taste). New units to command, the dreadiest environment to explore and empires among vampires.
There are few points of the game that need to be corrected, so that the game becomes even more reliable and entertaining. However, they are almost unnoticeable in all this unique blend of horror and generally new experience!
"Age of Vampires" is more than your regular modpack. It brings many graphic changes to the game (five new civilizations with their own units and buildings) but also new technologies and very interesting and original unique qualities for the "vampire" and "vampire hunter" civs. It went through a lot of changes and updates since the original upload, so if you've played that version, you will probably be amazed at how far it has come, as now it is close to mods such as Age of Chivalry in terms of quality.
This mod can be very useful for somebody trying to create a horror scenario, with all the new units and special atmosphere. There's also a lot of cool gameplay changes, some of them hilarious (to me, at least) with fat men and maids replacing the sheep and turkey, the mill turned into a slaughterhouse and so on. A lot of gruesome graphics of impaled people are also on the menu. Some more sensible people might not enjoy it, but you can't blame the author for trying to achieve a sense of horror.
I'm not very good at judging balance but it seems to me that the author has taken some time to make the new civilizations balance out as far as their powers are concerned, and the new units describe the legendary creatures that have inspired them very well. All in all, the game can be just as useful and fun for playing random maps, for designing scenarios, and lately the author has even included an Age of Vampires campaign... There's lots of things to reward the downloader for taking the time and installing this.
Apart from the new units, buildings and technologies mentioned, there are also new, gruesome terrains and sounds, very appropriate for the atmosphere the author tried to create. There's even a new home screen and loading screen, not to mention the well-written historical background on the new civilizations and the legends behind them, which will be very instructive for people wanting to learn more about Eastern European mythology.
The graphics are mostly very good, especially the buildings (extremely creative copy-paste skills, I especially loved the vampire civs wonders) and the terrains. The units' animations are at times a bit unconvincing, but that's to be expected since they are done with copy-paste also, and they are good enough not to attract attention. The highlight for me, creatively speaking, was the way the author used the resources available in the original game (including various sounds and graphics) to reach his purposes.
The single player campaign included is kind of basic, as far as gameplay and map design are concerned, but it does walk the player through the graphical and gameplay possibilities of the game, so overall it is a nice little bonus. The documents provided with the download are also very useful in familiarising the player with the new feature the mod provides.
If you like vampire stories and if you're a fan of horror and humor at the same time, you will love this modpack. Overall , Khan Ivayl has done an excellent job in creating and continuously refining this mod. A very recommended download.
When I first reviewed this mod pack, 'Age of Vampires' featured only two playable civilisations: the Dracul Clan and Vrkolak. There were however a number of glaring issues, which included limited usefulness and some disparages in quality, of which I felt restricted the mod pack from being a complete package for scenario designers to use.
Khan Ivayl has since updated the mod to include not only the requested third civilisation to compliment the other two, but a whole three other civilisations. That's five in all. This includes the original Dracul Clan and Vrkolak, while the new additions certainly add to the horror twist in the Bathory Clan, Transylvanians and the Van Hellsing Guild. The mod pack is in my belief vastly more complete than its predecessor, and more polished too. This updated review reflects the new additions.
NOVELTY/USEFULNESS: Your first impressions of this modification is just how creative and original it is, despite being based on some well-known legends and myths. Indeed it is rather impressive from an aesthetic point of view, and very creative too. It is certainly the first of its kind here at the Blacksmith and by far the creepiest. The author has given great attention to detail to the new unit and building conversions, which reflect the macabre atmosphere central to the modification. It certainly gives designers a suitable platform from which to design scenarios with a horror twist. While three of the five civilisations share the same building set (with exceptions to the unique wonders, of course), you can't help but enjoy the terrible and violent look. Bloody exteriors are decorated in the spiked edifices of impaled villagers and headless corpses, while blood seeps from window sills and dead trees adorn the outer terraces with threatening posture. It has made the cruel tales of Vlad Dracula and Elizabeth Bathory a lot of fun to play with. Houses for these civilisation have also been converted into tombstones, which makes a lot of sense when you're training ghosts and skeleton warriors to line up for battle alongside your human slaves. Those playing as the Dracul Clan or Vrkolak can thus expect to train units such as ghosts, demons, evil female spirits (otherwise known as the Samodiva), witches, vampire lords or werewolves, while the Bathory Clan can recruit dragons and wait for it... a carriage pulled by tormented slave girls. There are also vastly more supernatural units to play with than before, and you can expect to see units such as vampiric cavalry, headless horsemen, and an evil horse with a black body and red eyes which replaces the wild horse in the Gaia section. Meanwhile, the two human factions (representing the Transylvanians and Van Hellsing Guild) resemble a very Eastern European look and feel, and in turn are able to recruit Witch Hunters and Vampire Slayers respectively, to combat the undead plague. Each civilisation plays differently according to its mythological strengths and weaknesses, while there is also some cool new technology (and if not downright creepy) such as Virgin Sacrifice, which enables you to recruit maids for the purpose of ritual slaughter. Be prepared to creep out at the sight of your villagers cutting down a helpless maiden and butchering her body for meat, much as you would to sheep or turkey. I feel I could continue on and on, but before I finish I feel special mention must go to the new brown and black player colours replacing orange and purple, and the new ages. Lastly, I appreciated the author's decision to include new terrain for the map editor, which complements the dark look and feel of the mod with mud, dead forest and much more. I did however wonder about the decision to make certain terrain selections uniform, for example water 1 to 3 being of the same dark water mix. It would have been more useful to allow for some of the vanilla terrain for design purposes, but alas I'm also very picky. 5.0
QUALITY/INSTRUCTIONS: Firstly, the author has included the modification in a custom installer, which makes it easy to install (or uninstall) with just the click of a few buttons. There are also plenty of instructions in the zip file itself, as well as useful tips on the strengths and weaknesses of the new civilisations. The author has also chosen to include some notes about each of the five civilisations in the history section of the main menu. Aside from some spelling mistakes, there can be no complaint here. The main menu also received a welcome face lift, however I did find it too dark for my liking and it was quite often very tricky trying to find the buttons for selection, but otherwise it's nothing that affects the mod too much. That said, I'm overall very impressed with the level of quality across the board. It really looks and feels like a dark supernatural modification. Just a couple things, the fat man's anchoring appears to be a little off from when he idles and moves. The Samodiva also disappears upon death without any further graphic, which just looks odd. Perhaps this can be rectified with a simple cloud graphic and sound effect? 4.5
CONCLUSION: 'Age of Vampires' by Khan Ivayl is vastly more improved and polished since its original release. It is also very innovative with its new unit, building and technological choices, making it a very fun mod to work with. That said, the quality of the mod pack is much closer to a complete package, but I believe after a final update and polish the mod would be much closer to perfection.
In a sentence - Be prepared to become enthralled in the gruesome backdrop of the unending war between the mortal and immortal, of man vs the supernatural.
In closing - A must download.
[Edited on 08/07/15 @ 12:49 AM]