Rise of Nations:  Thrones and Patriots

Review

posted 5/21/2004 by Tyler Sager
other articles by Tyler Sager
Rise of Nations: Thrones and Patriots, expansion to the excellent “play the entire sweep of human history in about an hour” RTS, is every bit as good as the original. Like all good expansions, Thrones and Patriots adds oodles of extra crunchy bits while (mostly) maintaining the same balance and fun of the first Rise of Nations. Several new nations have been added, most with some very impressive abilities. Thrones and Patriots also adds several new units and wonders, new scenarios, and best of all, four new Conquer the World campaigns. Throw in a new government system, and Thrones and Patriots is just about everything I could have wanted in an expansion.

Each of the new nations is quite a bit of fun, but some may be just a bit overpowered. The Americans, at least from the time I’ve put in with them, seem to be the most impressive nation of the new lot. In addition to some university bonuses, the Americans get the amazing ability to instantly build their first wonder, provided no one else is working on the same thing. Their marine infantry unit is quite an impressive one, with the ability to perform some of the General-required actions on their own. Another impressive new nation, the Indians, can employ infrastructure with impunity, thanks to their ability to avoid the additional costs levied for building multiple copies of the same building. That sixth temple costs just as much as the first one. The Lakota play quite a bit different than the rest of the nations. They have no borders, so they can build wherever they please. Need to drop a few barracks next to the enemy for quick reinforcements? No problem. The Lakota also have a unique food gathering technique—their units automatically forage, meaning there’s no need for farms. In addition, the Lakota gain some resources from attacking enemy resource buildings. The Dutch are pretty cool, getting some commerce bonuses and armed caravan units. While they’re still no match for a determined raider, the Dutch caravans are also not the sitting-ducks that the other nations put forth. I found the Persians to be extremely annoying opponents, if not too exciting as a playable nation. Their ability to build a second capitol keeps them alive much longer than they should be. Finally, the Iroquois were the least impressive of the new nations, at least in my time through. They gain some impressive scout units, and their military units are hidden when sitting in their own territory, and…well, that’s about it.

Thrones and Patriots also introduces a government system, which brings another dimension into play. By building a Senate building, nations can choose between a military- or production-focused government in each of the later ages. Once a government is researched, a Patriot is produced. This unit has all the abilities of a General, plus added benefits depending on which government(s) have been researched. Military-focused Patriots are great on the battlefield, adding of extra bonuses to the fighting units. Production-focused Patriots can give bonuses both to military units and also to buildings and production facilities, making it difficult to choose whether to send them into battle or keep them back at the cities.

By far the most exciting addition in Thrones and Patriots is the new Conquer the World campaigns. The original Conquer the World campaign, combining the RTS game play with a Risk-type turn-based feel, made Rise of Nations stand out from the pack of RTS games. And while the original Conquer the World campaign is a lot of fun, it’s nice to try the same format on a much more focused map and time period. And that’s just what the new campaigns bring to the table. In Alexander the Great, players get to take the role of the famous conqueror on his quest to, well, take over everything. Focused on the Mediterranean and western Asia in the Classical era, the campaign brings forth some impressive unique Generals, including Alexander himself. The Napoleon campaign also focuses on the conquests of a single general, as players try to unite Europe under their rule. Set in the Imperial Age, this one is a bit trickier than the pervious campaign. The New World allows players to take on the role of the conquering European nations trying to gain control of all of the Americas, or one of the Native American nations trying to maintain their previous, unconquered status. Finally, the Cold War focuses on that tense time in history, with the ability to place nuclear weapons directly on the strategic map itself. Each of these campaigns features brand-new scenarios, some of which are quite well laid out, much more than just “here’s a map, so fight!” Special events and triggers can happen throughout the scenarios, especially during those campaigns following the Conquerors, like Alexander and Napoleon.

Game play and graphics are unchanged from the original, which is generally to be expected in an expansion pack. All of the familiar strengths and weaknesses are in place. The game looks great, and the control scheme is just as intuitive as ever. Like before, it’s still sometimes difficult to differentiate between infantry units at the higher resolutions. Those who, for whatever reason, found the first game not to their liking are not going to be swayed back to the RTS fold by this expansion.

Overall, Thrones and Patriots is a very solid expansion, adding hours to an already engrossing game. The new units and Nations add a bit of freshness, and the additional Conquer the World campaigns pile on hours of enjoyment. Thrones and Patriots is a worthy expansion for Rise of Nations, and a must-buy for fans of the series.




B+
A great expansion to the last year’s wonderful RTS. The new Conquer the World campaigns, in particular, make this a worthy addition.