Besides announcing the first wave of Xbox Live games to arrive for Windows Phone 7 devices this holiday season, Microsoft also took the opportunity at GamesCon 2010 to revive some classic PC franchises. First up is Ensemble's popular Age of Empires series, which will return set in a persistent online world shared with friends and rivals around the globe, combining old school real-time strategy with massively multiplayer online game elements.
That means player-versus-player mode as well as cooperative multiplayer quests, trading, and a level-based system that lets you progress at your own pace. The free-to-play game is themed around Ancient Greece and features a more colorful, cartoony visual style compared to previous games in the series -- presumably to keep system requirements low.
Development is being handled by Robot Entertainment, which is staffed almost entirely by ex-Ensemble Studios developers, who in turn made all previous Age Of Empires titles before Microsoft shut them down in 2008. Go figure. Age Of Empires Online will launch exclusively for Microsoft's Games for Windows - Live platform some time in 2011, but you can already sign up for a chance enter the public beta set to begin later this year.
Another classic making a comeback after being shut down early last year is the popular Microsoft Flight Simulator franchise. Not much has been revealed other than a short teaser trailer and a name: Microsoft Flight. We are not sure what the axing of the word "Simulator" from the title means for flight enthusiasts who cherished the series' realism and customizability, but it seems Microsoft may be aiming for a broader audience with this release.
According to the company's own words: "Microsoft Flight will bring a new perspective to the long-standing genre, welcoming everyone, including long-time fans, to experience the magic of flight."