Forgot password?


Password reset

Please enter your e-mail address and new password.

Rise of Nations

By Leigh Cobb17-03-2013
Bobfish (editor)
Bis18marck70 (editor)
Rise of Nations

The Defence

Big Huge Games
Release Date:
US 20-05-2003
EU 23-05-2003

The Prosecution

Intel Pentium III 500 MHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia 16 MB card
AMD equivalent
128 MB
800 MB

Few games come backed up with finer pedigree than Big Huge Games. Born out of Civilization II and Alpha Centauri developers, Rise of Nations was the debut real time strategy game from a studio founded from the greatest minds in the genre. Did Rise of Nations live up to its creators, or was it overshadowed by its peers?

The first thing to note about RoN is that it knows its genre. The game refines the standard RTS combat system and brings near perfection to all other aspects of the genre. The economic system is satisfying, the research plentiful and the combat engrossing. But RoN doesn’t just simply do this well, it innovates. This is a game which takes aspects from turn based strategies and, for the first time, applies them to a real time strategy game. The result is an RTS quite unlike anything before.

Being from Civilization developers, this is understandable. Although at first glance this game plays like others in the genre, you see that features such as ‘territory’ and ‘Cities’ really set this game apart. Territory functions as a visual representation of your Civilization’s influence; it can be expanded through conquest and research. Units outside of your nation’s influence suffer from attrition, meaning that RoN is less a game of building a base and attacking the opposite enemy, and more building a nation on the map itself. Cities function as a way to expand territory and also allow for greater research and unit production. Often in RTS’ you only ever build in one location and expand that base, but in RoN it is imperative to expand and, in a way, colonise through the use of cities.

That’s how we celebrate new back home.

That’s how we celebrate new back home.

Innovations aside, the meat and bones of this game are done very well. The game possesses a similar unit limit to others, but each unit consists of 3 individual troops, making battles look that little bit more spectacular. There is greatly fluidity to their animations and a wide variety to each nation’s unit roster.

Coming from a development studio called ‘Big Huge Games’, it is fitting to see that RoN is crammed full of content and features. Everything about this game is big; from the map sizes, the technology tree, the battles and the amount of resources you need to collect. This emphasis on doing things in great quantity plays to this game’s advantage, meaning that battles are well fought and feel satisfying. It doesn’t stop there either; you can play this game from the nomad age up until the modern day, reminiscent of Empire Earth. This means there are an abundance of different unit types to try out, with a whopping 18 different civilizations.

These are all reasons why this game was so well received both critically and commercially. There is real strategy here which will please any fan of Age of Empires or Starcraft. The ‘rock paper scissors’ system of combat, whilst simplistic, means that you have to counter your opponent to win. Mistakes early on will also cost you; and if you neglect resources gathering then you might suddenly find that you have no oil left for that huge navy you were planning, allowing your opponent to get the better of you.

This never gets old.

This never gets old.

Graphically speaking, this game has aged surprisingly well. It uses a unique 2D and 3D combination, where some things like buildings are rendered in 2D and others, like units and special effects, in 3D. This means that the game avoids the hurdle of some early 3D RTS games, which looked appalling compared to their 2D counterparts which had far more detail, even if the method was more simplistic. Luckily, the clever use of both here means that RoN, even in 2013 still looks detailed and suitably epic. The soundtrack too has stood the test of time, with sound effects being truly standout.

Rise of Nations does live up to its pedigree, it is a captivating and fun RTS game which successfully brings elements from the turn based genre to the real time. Anyone looking for a good RTS should look no further, Rise of Nations offers all the best and more.

Comments (2)
You must be to post a comment.
Posts: 241

@Mokman, hell yeah! It's a classic alright, I still go back to it from time to time.

Posts: 53

This was THE RTS game for me. It lasted me two years.