Rise of Nations


posted 5/20/2003 by Tyler Sager
other articles by Tyler Sager
One Page Platforms: PC
The graphics in Rise of Nations also reminds me of Age of Empires, which is not necessarily a good thing. The graphics aren’t bad by any means, but they aren’t as clear as I would have liked. When there are several hundred units on the field, it becomes difficult to differentiate between similar troops, such as slinger units and archer units. When it becomes necessary to quickly command all the heavy cavalry to attack while needing the light cavalry to stay back, things become problematic. This can be overcome by careful use of the grouping hotkeys, but it still can be a bit bothersome.

Players can skirmish against the computer or against fellow humans via multiplayer support, like most other RTS games out there. There’s really not much more that needs to be said about these features, since although RoN has a nice assortment of single- and multiplayer scenarios, there’s nothing in these scenarios we haven’t seen quite a few times before. There is, however, a rather unique option, called Conquer the World. Set up as a sort of turn-based Risk meets the traditional RTS games, this is a refreshing take on the tried-and-true genre. Players assume the role of one of a very healthy number of budding nations and begin play with a single army on a map of the world. Each “turn”, players may negotiate with other countries, form alliances or other diplomatic ties, explore unconquered lands, or make war with the foreign powers. Only one army movement/attack is allowed per turn, so careful thought must be given as to which target gets special attention. Once an attack/exploration is made, the more traditional RTS mission begins, which can be anything from a siege mission, a build-and-destroy mission, or a defend-against-the-enemy goal. Actions taken on the world map determine what bonuses and penalties are given to each side before the battle begins. Once a particular empire’s capitol province is taken, that empire is out the campaign. The Conquer the World campaign makes for some very interesting play, and it’s nice to see some actual innovation in the RTS genre.

On a very positive note, in all the time I’ve been playing Rise of Nations, I haven’t seen a singe noticeable bug. Not a one. I’m not saying they’re not lurking in there somewhere, or that they won’t rear their ugly heads on a different system, but for me the game was quite stable. Kudos to the production team for sending out a polished product.

We’re at a point where every RTS game seems pretty much like the next one. Thankfully, the “normal” quality is usually pretty good, and can be enjoyable. But many of the games coming out these days are just variations on a theme. Even though Rise of Nations has a few unique elements, such as the Conquer the World campaign and the larger-than-normal sweep of history, it still feels much like many RTS games I’ve already played. Rise of Nations is a good game, it’s solid, enjoyable, and will offer players quite a few hours of diversion. However, it’s not really anything innovative, so those wanting the Next Big Thing won’t find it here. Bottom line, if you want a good RTS and don’t mind going over some familiar territory, Rise of Nations is worthy of a look.

A good RTS game with a unique, Risk-like Conquer the World campaign in addition to the more traditional skirmish-style scenarios. Once you get past the novelty of Conquer the World, however, RoN is just an RTS game like many others out there already.

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