reviews\ May 14, 2006 at 8:00 pm

Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends - PC - Review

I loved the original Rise of Nations game because it had some really unique ideas and the game was really well implemented. This game took the best of both worlds by taking the in-depth strategy of turn-based strategy games and added the heart-pounding action of real-time strategy games; and the result was a blast to play. A few months ago I got to participate in a beta of the Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends and was pretty impressed with what the game had to offer and the new spin on it from the previous game. Read on to find out more about the latest game.

Just like in the last game the Conquer the World campaign makes a full return and it is even better then ever. Players will go through a very intriguing story that laps over various missions and even subplots that will have you not wanting to quit until you see the final credits. You will be transported to a world of monsters, magic, and people with very high level of technology and you have to use everything that you have at your disposal in order to accomplish your end goal. It is a heavy task to undertake but with patience you can do it.

What I enjoyed about this game over the previous one is how it is set in a fantasy universe where magic and technology are clashing at each other for power. There are three factions in this game and while they each have the same set of rules for players to understand how to use the game, they each have very different ways to get things done. The only thing that I wished is that the developers opted to make each of these races COMPLETELY different from one another instead of having the same basic skill set, even though this is the case the differences are there and each race does play differently. Before I get started listing the various races I think that an analogy is needed so you can get in your mind's eye the differences between them. I know you will all roll your eyes when you hear this analogy but I will compare each of the races to Star Craft to give you a better idea of how the race is.

First of all we have the Vinci faction is pure technologist in many different respects. One identifying marker of this race is just like Leonardo really loves art in its various forms so will this particular race, from its buildings to units. This means that your city will be a thing of wonder, from its tall buildings that are very tough and can withstand the enemy’s barrage of offensive tactics. If you have played Star Craft think of this race as the Terrans.

The Alin, on the other hand, is not as powerful as the Vinci and instead of focusing on technology they are more into the magic side of things. The Alin’s are modeled after the stories of the Arabian Nights with its various building appearances. This race can churn out various units quickly, and they depend on magic to defeat their enemies. If you have played Star Craft think of this race as the Zerg.

The last race which was just recently revealed is the Cuotl and they are the most advanced out of all of the nations. Since this was the case, they set themselves up as gods to the various people. Everything that they build has a more “futuristic” feel to it. They are extremely powerful with their high-tech weapons and defenses, but they take a while to get off the ground running. You can compare this race to the Protoss, especially since they both have personal shield that can protect them from damage.

Following the trend of every other RTS game, Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends offers gamers various Hero units to be used in each mission that can help turn the tide of a battle. As you successfully complete various missions you will be given points that can be used to upgrade various abilities of these heroes for later use. I think the best thing about this game is that you only have to collect two resources - Timonium (raw materials) and wealth/energy (which you get from caravans). This makes going into battle a lot easier instead of worrying about five different types of resources. Another thing that is new is Storming Sites. This is a quick way to capture sites to zero health as well as keeping the building as well as some of the enemy’s foot soldiers to keep for your own army.

One last thing I wanted to talk about is the dominances that can be awarded in each game, and they are military, craft, resource, and tactical. Being the first to reach the requirements makes it much easier for you the rest of the game. Military dominance is gained by being the first to make a certain number of units, and it grants the ability to capture enemy soldiers to use on your side. Craft dominance is ability to summon map-specific allies for a short amount of time, to get this you much acquire a certain number of technologies. Resource dominance is gained by being the first to reach 500 total resources in your bank, and it allows you to heal units in the field even while fighting. Last is the Tactical dominance and in order to get it you must be the first person who destroys a certain number of enemy miners and allows you to call a temporary cease fire.

The graphics for this game are really great. The best thing about this game is mentioned above with the various different architecture looks of each race. You can instantly tell who you are fighting against once you see one of the enemy's building structures. The units that you build also have their own unique look and “faction” feel to them. The animation set for each of the units is also really well done. Another really positive thing about this game is the various environments that you will be fighting in look just as good.

One of the lower points of this game is the music; while the music is decent, it is just not as good as it really could have been to make gamers feel the entire scoop of the game. Instead all players are left with is just something normal. The sound effects are really good though as you hear what seems like hundreds of lasers firing, magic, and guns blazing while you are in a fight.

Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends is rated Teen for violence.

Review Scoring Details for Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends

Gameplay: 9.3
I love this game’s campaign mode since it combines the best of the turn-based strategy games as well as real-time strategy. The game is still as smooth as the one before it. Having three unique races is also a really good thing since each do things a little differently, and it is fun trying to figure out which race works best for you.

Graphics: 9.1
Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends graphics are extremely well done. There are so many special effects going on the screen it is hard to tell what is going on sometimes, and hope that those beams of light/fire are coming from your men instead of the enemies. What is nice about this game is that each race has their own unique look, which makes the game a lot better and when you stumble upon an enemy you can instantly tell who you are up against by their building style.

Sound: 8.5
The music for this game is not up to snuff as compared to the rest of the game, which is a shame as it really could have been a lot better. On the other hand the sound effects for the game are really well done and give you a sense of action going on screen.

Difficulty: Medium
One thing that I really liked about this game, especially in the campaign mode, is before each mission you can select the difficulty, so if the game is going too easy or hard on you, you can change it up to match up to your game skills.

Concept: 9.1
I really like the jump from historical to fantasy world that the developers took for this game. It really makes it stand apart from other games that are out nowadays. The developers also expanded their famous Conquer the World campaign and it is more fun then ever!

Multiplayer: 9.0
There are two ways to play this game, either over your Local Area Network, or login to ROLO (Rise of Legends Online) provided by Gamespy to get your multiplayer fix on. This game plays just as smooth online as it does offline and is a blast to play against your friends to determine who is the best of the best.

Overall: 9.1
Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends is a blast to play and you can play it hours on end without getting sick of it. The three races, even though there could have been some more differences between them, are really fun to play with and bring a nice breath of fresh air into the genre. If you enjoy strategy games then you will not want to pass this game up when you see it.


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