Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends Review (PC)

The sequel to the immensely popular Rise of Nations, Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends relies on many of the traditional RTS game set ups and tactics, but manages its own unique twists that make for an enjoyable game. I have to admit if there was a category for originality in the setting of an RTS I'd happily give this game an 11. While it may not go down as a Legend, Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends is definitely worth the game time and a good play that follows in the footsteps of itís predecessor, combining the game play of both turn based and RTS in a unique world environment. The naming is a little unfortunate since it makes one expect typical legendary races and characters, but the results in this area do not disappoint.

Save some for me!!! Dragon troops are just plain cool

My favorite part of Rise of Legends is the fact that nothing in the races is stereotypical. No space marines, no WWII anything, no Tolkien themed elves, dwarves or other sword slingers. In exchange we get three unique civilizations that use familiar RTS building trees and combat strategies but in intriguing new ways.† The storyline of this game isnít a huge surprise. There are a few twists and turns, but really the story, like most RTS stories is about bringing the various civilizations into combat and completing missions to storm one city or another, or bring back certain persons. Unfortunately in the computer run scenarios you generally find yourself fighting units of the same civilization that you are playing and I wanted to get to combat between the civilizations faster, but thatís what multiplayer is for, if nothing else.

The three civilizations take advantage of very different backgrounds, each with a unique look and feel as well as tech tree and tactic style.

The Vinci are based on, as their name implies, a cross between steam-punk and Renaissance styles. Many of the units are inspired by the designs of Davinci himself, though with a retro science twist. Clockwork soldiers, steam powered flyers and tanks all based on a research and development focus. Theyíre a slow strategy civilization based on building up your resources before attacking, lacking the smooth fast attacks of the others.

The Alim civilization seems to be a portrait directly out of the 1001 Arabian Nights. The feel of their civilization is magical and adventurous built with floating castles, glass dragons and fiery serpents. Born fliers this race rules the skies, and are masters of the rapid hit and run style of attack. Their tech tree is a bit different, so worth making sure that you know the order of their buildings before playing the first time.

Talk about a dream castle Security is never having to say your sorry

Finally is the Cuotl, an ancient Mesoamerican style civilization crossed with hefty advanced technology. This makes for stone statue armies standing side by side with orbital lasers, power shields and cloaking devices. At the upper technology levels the Cuotl are a staggering force to deal with, but they have a weaker opening game that can be exploited by a fast player or computer enemy.

The game play is much what you would expect from an RTS with a few bells and whistles tossed in. The range of missions is fairly broad, which keeps the game from getting boring, and there are unique features such as the ability to storm some buildings with your foot soldiers. Each building displays a n umber of foot soldiers that would be required to storm it, so† you can cut to the chase when encountering these buildings. The challenge generated by the AI is appropriate to the area you're in at any given time, usually with little need for tweaking, though the option exists.

Visually the game is very pretty with lovely backgrounds and many models to choose from for each of the civilizations. The environments are fairly static, but well drawn and detailed enough to be very interesting.† The models for the characters are unique for each race, emphasizing the differences in culture and story which is rather fun. No questions that everyone doesn't get along here. Near the end of the campaigns when the battles got more intense and during some moments of multiplayer play the frame rate started to lag badly, which was it's own frustration. Sometimes the connectivity to the main server struggles as along and you'll just have to be patient.

Unfortunately the efforts the audio for this game were not thought of with the same effort as the graphics and really leave you wanting for more. The voice acting is not strong and the sound effects and music almost more annoying than they're worth.

So much for a quiet countryside retreat Dragon heart eat your spleen out

All in all, however, I liked the game and enjoyed my time playing it. The turn based combined with RTF is unique and fun, providing a little time for thinking and not so much twitchy trigger finger. The storyline is not perfect, but it's still worthy of being called a storyline, so you take what you can get and roll with it.†

Favorite Gaming moment:
I geeked out when the first dragon made its appearance.† So very cool.