More Reviews
REVIEWS Far Cry 4 Review
The open world of Far Cry 4 is wondrous, but is the beauty of Kyrat only skin-deep?

World of Warcraft: Warlords of D Review
Does Blizzard's latest expansion breathe new life into the 10 year-old franchise, or is this MMO finally starting to show its age?
More Previews
PREVIEWS Silence: The Whispered World II Preview
With its absolutely gorgeous sequel, Daedalic aims to create a mid-range difficulty adventure title that will expand the genre to a larger audiences.
Release Dates
NEW RELEASES Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions
Release date: 11/25/14

Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix
Release date: 12/02/14

Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-
Release date: 12/16/14

Kalimba
Release date: 12/17/14


LATEST FEATURES With Two Paths to Walk This Fall, I Recommend Assassins Play AC Unity Over AC Rogue
For fans of this series, it'll be a decision based on hardware. For enthusiasts, returning to the brand's roots will prove enticing.

Nintendo Download November 2014 - Updating Each Week
If you've got credit on Nintendo's digital eShop service or expect to receive a gift card this holiday season, start making your list with our weekly updates.
MOST POPULAR FEATURES Xbox Downloads October 2014 - Updating Each Week
Microsoft's Xbox One console continues an Xbox Live revolution started over a decade ago. Here's hoping Summer of Arcade makes it to the platform next year.

LEADERBOARD
Read More Member Blogs
FEATURED VOXPOP Master_Craig
Welcome Home - PAX AUS 2014
By Master_Craig
Posted on 11/18/14
Last night I returned home from PAX AUS 2014. Long story short, it wasn't perfect, but it was quite possibly the best weekend I've had this year. It was a lot of fun. If you'd like to continue reading, the long story is just below. Buckle up. This is gonna be...

Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends Preview

Ben_Silverman By:
Ben_Silverman
12/15/05
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE Strategy 
PLAYERS 1- 8 
PUBLISHER Microsoft 
DEVELOPER Big Huge Games 
RELEASE DATE Out Now
T Contains Blood and Gore, Violence

What do these ratings mean?

Urge to play rising.


First-person shooters might grab headlines, but the hardest of the hardcore find much more depth and value in a well-designed real-time strategy game. Last year's crop was outstanding thanks to games like Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War, Ground Control II and the unsurpassed Rome: Total War, but despite a new Age, 2005 was more about fragging monsters than snagging resources as the RTS took a back seat to the FPS.

So perhaps the world is itching for another great strategy game, which is exactly what Big Huge Games and Microsoft are hoping as they prepare to unleash the anticipated Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends in the Spring of 2006. Other than a penchant for the kind of redundant naming that drives men like George Carlin absolutely bonkers (Big Huge?), they also have a knack for kickass strategy design. After spending some time with their upcoming baby, I certainly won't argue.

click to enlargeDon't let the similar names fool you, though. While Rise of Legends shares some basic design elements with its distinguished forbear, it takes off in a sexy new direction by ditching the historical aspects of the original in favor of a brand new fantasy backdrop. Unlike most games of its ilk, Rise of Legends doesn't downshift to the typical geek conventions of mysterious elves, tattered humans and nasty orcs, instead introducing a totally new mythos that's more League of Extraordinary Gentlemen than D&D. Only two of the game's three factions have been released thus far: the industrial Vinci and the Zerg-like Alim.

Drawing inspiration from their multi-talented namesake and the stylish visions of contemporary artists like the great Hayao Miyazaki, the Vinci are mad, brilliant inventors. With giant clockwork men, helicopters pulled right from Leonardo's personal design docs and sprawling, steam-powered fortresses complete with whirring cogs and pumping pistons, they establish a fresh look with nary a pointy ear in sight. The Alim, on the other hand, forgo robotics in favor of organics, with buildings made of glass and sand, dragons, genies and enough spiritual trickery to make Ali Baba jealous. The obvious conflict between machinery and magic highlight the different play mechanics of these two factions; one can only wonder (currently) what the other faction might bring to the table.

Little is left to the imagination when it comes to the core game design, however. Those familiar with Rise of Nations will be psyched to know that the great single-player mode, Conquer the World, returns with some significant and promising tweaks. The plot puts you in the sandals of Vinci hero Giacomo, taking over territories on three hefty, R.I.S.K.-like maps. Sacking lands grant you additional reinforcements or other buffs to help you conquer more. Meanwhile, your enemy is doing the same, so you also have to defend previously conquered regions.

New to Legends is the ability to construct buildings from the map screen, which then become part of the map if you have to defend against an invasion. This not only gives you a head start in certain battles, but also allows you to send reinforcements over to adjoining territories if a battle takes place there instead. Maintaining standing armies at any location helps, making the strategic control of map locations key.

click to enlargeThe battles themselves are filled with deep strategic elements but manage to avoid becoming too heavy-handed by trimming some of the typical RTS fat. Only two resources require management – timonium and gold – and neither deplete. This makes the maintenance of a steady supply line more important than starving out the other player(s) by rushing in and securing all the resource points on the map first. Say goodbye to the classic war of attrition.

A 'district' system expands the size of your city while giving out important bonuses to your overarching army. Military districts increase your pop cap and your overall offensive and defensive capabilities, while Merchant districts beef up the efficiency of trade caravans, leading to a better influx of resources. The more you have of any district type, the more potent the effects. Each faction has one unique district, not to mention a slew of unique units and buildings.

Even more depth comes in the form of new Dominance abilities, which reward players who accomplish certain goals first. It's something of a race; you can gain 'Army' Dominance by being the first to build four battalions, which then gives you a nice buff…until someone reaches, say, eight battalions and swipes the buff back. As the game progresses, figuring out which Dominances to go after and which to forgo becomes an important strategic consideration.

Perhaps the most dramatic change of all is in the game's fancy new engine. Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends is a fully 3D beast, complete with total zoom, a rotating camera and all kinds of nifty effects. Cities are now interconnected monstrosities; as districts are added to a Vinci city center, for example, they quite literally connect with groovy bridges and tubing. Pile on more and eventually you can upgrade to a sprawling clockwork metropolis. It's a helluva set piece.

And hopefully we'll say the same about Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends when it ships. What we've seen so far is an RTS brimming with both style and substance…and that's still a faction shy of a full house. Provided Big Huge stays on track, this is more than the most promising of 2006's RTS crop – it's a legend in the making.


More from the Game Revolution Network




comments powered by Disqus

 


More information about Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends