Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends Review

Real-time strategy games inevitably fall into one of three categories: Sci-Fi, Dungeons & Dragons style fantasy, or historical. Time and again strategy gamers are asked to lead their species, race, or civilization to victory against the other species, races, or civilizations, in most cases all of which are more alike than different. When a game comes along that breaks out of this mold, its novelty alone is enough to cause gamers to stand up and take notice. If this game also has the pedigree of a Rise of Nations game … well, things really become interesting. And so we now Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends before us, a game certain to generate high expectations in the strategy gaming community. So does the game live up to expectations? Let’s find out…

Rise of Legends has created a unique fantasy world to serve as its setting, a world inhabited by three pretty distinct races, the Vinci, Alin, and Cuotl. The Vinci draw both their name and inspiration from the Renaissance genius Leonardo Da Vinci. Da Vinci designed many fantastic machines and weapons of war that were too far ahead of their time to ever see the light of day. In Rise of Legends these designs are brought to life, along with plenty of other clockwork and mechanical creations, making the Vinci resemble a civilization in which the Renaissance and Industrial Revolution came about simultaneously.

The Vinci on the march.
On the other end of the spectrum you have the Alin. The Alin are to magic as the Vinci are to technology, and are a desert race that look like they’ve been pulled from the pages of 1001 Arabian Nights. Glass, magic, and illusion make the Alin’s world, with nary a gear in sight.

The last faction is the Cuotl, an alien race stranded on an alien world. The Cuotl have made the most of their situation by using their advanced technology to impress a primitive Mayan-like race and make themselves into self-styled gods. The result is a faction of both super high-tech and stone.

The three races do a good job of accommodating different styles of play. The Alin are for those who like to overwhelm their enemies in relentless wave attacks. Cheap, mass-produced, weak units are their forte, backed up with the power of their magic. The Vinci are for builders who like to create strong bases in which to max out their tech tree and then unleash their strongest units on the world. The Cuotl are for those who like managing a few powerful units over a mass of weak ones – the Protoss of Rise of Legends. Despite their big differences, the factions are remarkable well-balanced and smart use of your faction’s strengths will have a stronger bearing on victory than your selection of a faction.