Well then, my blog appears to be filling up. Third article: Rise of Nations review.
Okay, I'm not about to write an academic thesis here. Rise of Nations is the latest strategy video game from Microsoft and also with assistance from Sid Meirs (of Civilization fame) . With this in mind, it has been hailed as a cross between Age of Empires and Civilization. However, in reality it is much more alike to Age of Empires in terms of interface at least.
You start with a small city, build another city and another and gradually create a nation with a strong economy that can be used to build an army that you will use to battle with and defeat your opponent. To do this, you create citizens that will gather resources of food (from farms), timber (from trees) and metal (from mountains) with wealth being generated by markets and caravans. Along with this, they will also be used to construct the necessary buildings to aid in national development. If you have played Age of Empires, then this will no doubt sound like a familiar format.
Where this game comes into its own however, is with age advances. Unlike the Age of Empire series which deals with ages in separate titles; in Rise of Nations you can work your way up from ancient times (stick and stone armies) right up to the current day Information age (Nuclear weapons, Tanks, Stealth Bombers etc) - all in the space of a single 1 hour game! This adds a considerable amount of depth to the game and a considrably larger variety of units than any Age of Empires title offers.
Along with this, you also have the concept of national borders which expand with cultural influence and number of cities. Providing you have researched attrition, any opposition army that walks within your borders without a supply wagon will suffer damage. No doubt that this is a game concept that has been imported from Civilization 3.
Another game concept from the Civ series is that of Wonders. As you advance through the ages you can construct Wonders of the World from the pyramids to the space program. Each wonder gives you some sort of additional advantage. For example, the space program reveals the entire map for you and enables you to see where all your opponents troops are located.
So, what else does this game offer? Well, you have the nations themselves. You can select from a variety of nations to play with: British, Spanish, Inca, Germans, Russians, Japanese, Chinese, French, Bantu, Mongols etc. Although curiously America is not included within the game. Each nation comes with its set of unique units and special powers - not to mention national architecture.
The graphics are nice, with detailed units and landscapes. With water vessels you can see the reflection of the units in the sea. The sound is of reasonable quality too. You can hear pretty much every gun shot and bomb dropped. Although, I do think the in game music could have been better.
I also feel that a greater degree of strength could have been given to defending nations in the form of city walls or trenches. Once your opponent attacks, there is little you can do to stop his army from waltzing right into your cities. Once your defensive army has been breached then it is pretty much game set and match.
It is a good game but perhaps has been justly criticized for being a little bit like Age of Empires. Although, the different ages give the game a great deal more depth and unit variety. The game would have also benefited from a few more defensive features to aid in defense of nation. The solo conquer the world game (whereby you try and conquer the real world with a nation) is slightly easy with tribute cards and alliances. To defeat any powerful nation you simply invade their capital nation with a lot of armies so that you outnumber them in the actual battle.
But overall, I liked this game. It is a good game but could have been better. You want me to rate it?
Play ability: 9/10