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  Review: Rise of Nations - Thrones and Patriots
On 05/31/04 by Stephen "Sgt. Bilbo" Carmichael

Developer: Big Huge Games
Publisher: Microsoft
Release Date: April 27, 2004
ESRB: "T" for Teen
Official Site: www.microsoft.com/games/riseofnations
Platform: PC

For the past few years, Real Time Strategy games have been a mainstay in the game market. Developers have made Turn Based, Real Time, or hybrids of the two types, with some successes, and some abhorrent failures. Long ago, a man name Brian Reynolds worked with Sid Meier on a little game called Civilization II.
:: rise of nations ::
This game went to become one of the greatest strategy games of all time. But Brian decided to break out on his own, and a couple of years ago founded Big Huge Games, and embarked on creating one of the best strategy games on the market, Rise of Nations. This game was a nearly perfect fusion of Age of Empires gameplay with the world-spanning strategy of Civilization II, with a little Total War thrown in for good measure. Now that the game has been out for awhile, in typical fashion, an expansion pack has been released. Does Thrones and Patriots add anything worthwhile to an already stunning game? Most definitely.

Gameplay
Rise of Nations had excellent gameplay to begin with, and Thrones and Patriots just adds to an already excellent game. You get more countries, governments, and units, which add new strategies and quirks to the game, and makes you think a lot harder.

The new countries coming to the party are the Americans, Indians, Lakota, Iroquois, Persians and the Dutch. Each of these countries brings a unique ability to the table and has their own advantages and disadvantages. Americans are this reviewer's personal favorite. They get bonuses with airpower and science,
:: rise of nations ::
and they get Marines as their specialty unit. These can entrench in enemy territory without the aid of a general. This is a very useful ability when laying siege to an enemy town. This is but one of many additions that Big Huge Games has added to Rise of Nations (RoN) to make this game better.

The government options build on each other, so if you change your government type, do not lose any abilities the prior type granted. This is different for some games of this type, where you change government and you lose anything the prior form gave you. I hope future games take this into account when they allow government types to be chosen. Once you?re actually in Rise of Nations, you have a few options as far as how you wish to play the game. You can do random maps, small skirmish missions, full blown campaigns, or Conquer the World, which is the mode that really shows off Rise of Nations? gameplay.

In Conquer the World mode, your goal is to conquer the entire map. You have multiple campaigns to choose from, ranging from conquer one country, rule the entire planet. Upon the start, you are presented with a map of the world separated into territories for each country. You control one or two sections of the map, and it is then your job to spread from your humble beginnings to a world-conquering behemoth. Once you decide which territory you want to take over, you then move your army by way of a small figure, and your battle begins. The game does allow you the option of not battling and letting the CPU figure out who the winner is, but where is the fun in that? On to the battle!

You can win the territory one of two ways. You can either exterminate your opponent, or, in the case of multiple enemies on the map, you can ally with one to exterminate the rest, or any combination you can think of. Once the territory has been won, you win the resource bonuses granted by that territory. You only have a certain number of moves to succeed, so you have to use your brain as well as tactical ability to win. This, by far, is the most engrossing part of Rise of Nations, and it's only made better with the inclusion of four new campaigns in this mode, thanks to Thrones and Patriots.

Graphics
Rise of Nations, while a very attractive game, does not tax any current video cards, as it is strictly a 2D game. While some detractors may scream that this is 2004 and we need 3D in everything, Rise of Nations proves that theory to be complete bunk.
:: rise of nations ::
Units are crisp, very detailed, and very well animated. The transition animation for early-age artillery units is a personal favorite of mine. The maps themselves are very attractive. Lush greenery with hills, valleys, and lakes/oceans permeate the landscape. While this game isn?t nearly as colorful as, say, WarCraft III, Rise of Nations does well with muted earth tones that are more natural in appearance. Overall, while it won?t be setting your computers on fire with graphical splendor, the graphics engine does a respectable job.

Sound
Sound in Thrones and Patriots is pretty standard fare for a strategy game. The soundtrack is well orchestrated and the music changes with the pace of the game, which I enjoyed. In my experience, the soundtrack didn?t appear to change with different countries, which is a shame, as I would have enjoyed some diversity in the musical styles per country. Each unit has its own sound effect, and they are adequate. No better or worse than other games of this type. After receiving cannons in the game, I found their sound to be particularly weak, but overall, the sound is very well done. Since this game is purely 2D, there is no 3d audio, but the game does incorporate some very good panning effects. Zooming in on your troops does increase the volume and does allow for some thrilling battle effects.

In a Word: A worthwhile addition to an already great game.

Word to the Publisher: Don't lose Big Huge Games as a developer.

Final Score: 9.0/10


#1 - Kobayashi - 05/31/04 @ 05:59 PM EST
Heh, makes me want to get the game :)
#2 - Major John Hicks - 06/01/04 @ 01:09 AM EST
The regular conquer the world mode cannot touch the Cold War Campaign! Now that was a fun campaign.
#3 - Anon@68.69.237.175 - 06/02/04 @ 11:15 AM EST
I think I'm going to pick it up
/ / /
#4 - Anon@68.168.147.130 - 06/02/04 @ 12:49 PM EST
This is a good review, This is the best strategy
game I have ever played
/ / /
#5 - Anon@219.89.95.111 - 06/02/04 @ 09:56 PM EST
Rise Of Nations is so good I don't play anything else anymore, and the expansion has made it even better.
/ / /
#6 - Anon@68.88.55.51 - 06/08/04 @ 11:35 PM EST
I bought Rise of Nations and THrone of Patriots 2 days ago. We played them at a LAN yesterday and it was a blast.


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