Mixing Civilization and Age of Empires
Rise of Nations is a strategy game which mixes two classic games: Civilization (turn-based) and Age of Empires (real-time). It will be released by Microsoft's game division, which is the publisher - the game is actually being developed by Big Huge Games. The version we tested - beta 2 - still has a number of bugs and it lacks items that will be added before the game is released. Rise of Nations will probably be on American store shelves in April - on Brazil, it will be available probably in May.
In Rise of Nations, the player chooses the nation he wants to command among 18 options. Each one of them has exclusive features and units, on top of those which are available to all nations. By means of resource exploitation (food, wood, iron and knowledge), it is possible to build cities that, when grouped in a good number, occupy a large portion of the map and constitute a nation. Resources also allow the player to invest in research fields: financial, military, civic, commercial and others. The more advanced the technology is, greater is the nation's power and territorial influence.
Gameplay is similar to that in Age of Mythology - actually, it is almost the same. Units and buildings are individually managed by the player, who may build huge armies to defend his/her nation. A striking difference in this game is the possibility of expanding the territorial influence by means of building new cities, something akin to Dune II.
The 3D engine in the game is awesome. We can clearly see particles [sic] and individual shadows in most of the scenery. The player can control the zoom levels, having a grand view of the terrain or seeing details of the combat between enemies. Sure, if you want to enjoy all this, you better have a powerful videocard. Rise of Nations runs smoothly with a Geforce 4 TI 4200, with few stuttering.
Rise of Nations' musical score is great. The music is related to the nation with which you are playing, and this produces a very realistic mood. The sound effects are also good, fading in and out according to the game view position (eg., the closer you get to a battle, the louder the sound will be).
The intro movie is like the one in Age of Mythology, with a 3D cutscene that shows how civilization evolved from its beginnings to a distant future for us. It is impressive.
Despite the fact that we tested only a beta version of what is coming near, it is possible to assure now that Rise of Nations will be a hit for the real-time strategy lovers. The amazing graphic interface and sound effects plus a great story guarantees that Rise of Nations will be fun for lots of people.