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Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends Review
developer: 38 Studios
PIV 1400, 256MB RAM, 4.5GB HDD, 64MB video card
|ESRB rating: T
release date: May 01, 06 (released)
|» All About Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends on ActionTrip|
When playing new video games, a part of me always hopes that developers will be resourceful enough to incorporate a novel feature or two - basically anything that would spice up the genre. If I'm not mistaken, that's how many hardcore gamers feel these days. Every now and then, we keep tabs on a variety of games, eagerly expecting to experience something new and different. Regrettably enough, most developers and publishers follow a roughly similar pattern when creating games, contributing precious little to the evolution of gaming. Of course, there are a few exceptions to the rule, but, all things considered, I think it's safe to say that video games will continue to evolve slowly throughout the years, for better or for worse.
We'll never surrender this hill!
It's always nice to see industrial zones merging with nature.
The RTS genre represents an exceptionally challenging turf, especially in terms of offering innovative gameplay concepts. For instance, Rise of Nations seemed like another typical RTS on the surface. When you think about it though, the game threw some pretty neat ideas on the table, such as the impact of national borders and a slightly different approach to capturing hostile cities. In RoN, it was these subtle changes that made the game fun to play. Still, I think most of you will agree that Rise of Nations wasn't exactly groundbreaking. However, the fairly straightforward approach to the gameplay mechanics could easily lure you into the experience, which, incidentally, was one of the main reasons why it was so popular.
Rise of Nations certainly did have a number of shortcomings, particularly in terms of originality and overall design. To begin with, the nations were rather generic and similar to what we've seen in strategies many times before. Also, the turn-based portion of the game left some gamers a wee bit frustrated, given that it restricted you to a single world map. Well, Rise of Legends sort of makes up for the abovementioned snags. This time around, each campaign in the single-player mode presents a completely different world for players to explore and conquer. On top of that, you'll encounter a pleasing variety of brilliantly conceived races and nations, each with numerous units that have individual strengths and weaknesses.
Shifting the setting to a more fantasy-like ambiance was indisputably a move in the right direction. Even so, I must say that the inclusion of hero units seemed slightly off at times. It's cool to be able to enhance the powers of your units by diverse skills of a particular hero, but it just felt like playing Warcraft or Battle for Middle-earth all over again. In other words, it seemed a bit too clich', that's all. Not that having heroes in an RTS is a bad thing, mind you. Heroes come as a benefit in many ways. In fact, a great deal of quests and side quests in various scenarios cannot be completed without the skills and knowledge of a certain hero unit. Each hero has a range of abilities that could turn the tide of a battle and bring an end to an overpowering opposing force. The heroine Lenora, for example, assists you in one of the missions with her extensive know-how of pirate tactics and air vehicles. Without her aid, the mission becomes exceedingly difficult.
Rise of Legends offers you a chance to play each of the three available campaigns separately. Playing each one of these means that you enter a whole new world and a brand new map that's just waiting to be conquered. Luckily, most of the time you won't be alone in your fight against the enemy. Hence, you can always form alliances via the diplomacy option. Treaties and trade deals can be made to ensure fast economic growth and additional resources. Expanding your territory is still one of the most important aspects of the game. In order to achieve victory, you'll have to rely on more than just mere manpower. Researching various technologies so as to outsmart the enemy would be a good start. Attaining numerous technological advantages opens new possibilities such as more powerful land and air units, or even certain buildings that can help you spy on the enemy. For instance, you can erect a huge telescope and point to any part of the map, thus revealing the potential whereabouts of the opposing army.
Also, as in the previous game, I've really enjoyed the way in which you conquer cities. When attacking the heart of the enemy base, players don't have to raise structures to the ground, only to build a new one afterwards. Instead, you simply attack a particular building until it is under your control and then you can repair it, utilizing its functions normally.
The story is absorbing enough to hold your attention throughout the entire single-player campaign. To learn more about the races and their history, you should visit the official website. As for the details on the storyline... hm, I'd rather not spoil it for you guys. Suffice it to say, there's a number of unforeseen twists and turns and adequate character depth, keeping you on your toes as you complete each mission. The game begins with the Vinci campaign, and you have to complete it in order to unlock the next race. Playing each of these campaigns opens the door to a whole new world, filled with different surroundings, technologies, buildings, and units.
From what I could tell during most of the missions, the enemy AI makes for a decent challenge, using a variety of tactics and maneuvers in order to outsmart you. One of my first disappointments with the game arrived after I experienced annoying path-finding issues. From time to time, your troops get stuck on mountain edges or similar rock surfaces while marching towards their assigned destination. Such symptoms have seriously screwed up my chances against an overwhelming foe. Quite simply, my reinforcements did not arrive in time - it seems they were too busy getting jammed behind some God forsaken boulder that got in their way. I'm afraid this is, once again, the dreaded symptom of bad path finding that's noted in many RTS games of today.
8.9 Very Good
The new fantasy setting is cool, a splendid rehash of the previous game, the graphics are superb, convincing story, fun single-player and multiplayer;
Lag issues during online matches, path finding issues.