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Rise of Nations (Windows)

86
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.9
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  weregamer (157)
Written on  :  Oct 24, 2003
Rating  :  4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars

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Summary

The first "RTS" game to actually reward strategy rather than tactics, and the first to really capture the grand feel of a Civ-style game

The Good

This combined the visual appeal and "niftyness" value of the better RTS games with the large-scale feeling of a Civilization-style game. Unlike far too many in the genre, you don't have to out-click a computer to play single-player, and the game design makes actual strategic decision-making - longer-term planning and choices - crucial to play. It's also missing most of the worst annoyances of the genre, like stupid units that don't react when under attack and a race to create an uber-unit rush. It even manages to capture the scope and feeling of a great strategic game like Civilization, where your cities really feel like cities and not just bases - heck, it even has Wonders of the World. The single-player "Conquer the World" campaign is also really great, a more-than-decent real strategy game that uses the RTS module for tactical battles.

The Bad

Although the variety of nations support various play styles and give several good choices for most player styles, eventually you do reach the point where games start feeling pretty much the same and there's nothing more to play. Also, sadly, in the CTW campaign the real-world starting locations don't mix very well with the list of nations chosen; the worst case of this is probably the Maya, who have a very nice power in the RTS game but start in a basically hopeless location in the campaign.

The Bottom Line

Although the seminal title in the genre, Dune, was an original idea and I played it as such, most of these games vary from boring to unplayable for me. RoN is only one of two that I've played since Dune that I actually liked, and it's the only one I've ever got enthused about. It also accomplishes something I thought impossible - it actually renders much of the flavor of a Civ game into the RTS genre.