Rise of Nations: Extended Edition
After recently publishing my controversial review of “Age of Mythology: Extended Edition“, I was somewhat surprised to see Skybox Labs and Microsoft Studios at it again…by “it” I mean the revitalization of another RTS classic, “Rise of Nations” (originally released in 2003). Just to give you a bit of back story, I played “Rise of Nations” and its expansion “Thrones and Patriots” religiously back in the day…moreso than “Age of Mythology”, if you can believe it. My brother and I would spend hours playing co-op against the AI, simultaneously bringing our forces out of the stone age whilst creating a sizable force to take out the enemy. Oh, those were the good old days. Before I get into the beast that is “Rise of Nations: Extended Edition”, I’d like to thank Ashton Williams, a Marketing Coordinator at Microsoft Studios, for providing me with a free press copy.
For those of you who have never heard of “Rise of Nations”, you’re missing out. It honestly makes “StarCraft” look like a chew toy in comparison, at least that was my first impression when I first played it. It’s one HUGE tech tree, similar to that of “Empire Earth” (another classic RTS you kids probably haven’t heard of). You’ll start off with a small town and some villagers, set in the stone age. From there, you’ll need to harvest resources like food & wood to build some basic structures. While you’re building your town, you’ll be able to research new technologies at the library. Research enough and you can advance onto the next age, unlocking even more structures, resources, and units to build. What’s more, each city you build is its own entity in that it can support so many farms, a structure of a particular type (one market, one temple, etc.), and so on. The upgrades you purchase are empire wide, but some structures act independently from one another (research), forcing you to micromanage quite a bit.
It would take me a while to explain everything that “Rise of Nations” has to offer, but the above paragraph sums it up rather nicely. Build, research, build, research, build, research, and attack when you feel like it. My favorite part was researching nuclear missiles…though you have to be careful with those. Each nuclear missile you use counts toward the Armageddon cap…reach it, and the game’s over for everybody. Suffice it to say that “Rise of Nations” is a very in-depth RTS that requires a lot of micromanaging and organization. If “StarCraft” and “Warcraft” overwhelm you, then this game may not be the most ideal choice of a game to pick up on payday. By that same token, those who do stick with it and learn its ins and out will be rewarded with more options than they’ll know what to do with (pregame and in-game).
“Rise of Nations: Extended Edition” has roughly the same new features as “Age of Mythology: Extended Edition”: improved visuals, Steamworks & Twitch integration, and multiplayer. What has changed is the price…imagine that. I got a LOT of hate mail for knocking “AoM’s” price tag of thirty dollars, and by hate mail, I mean death threats. As a games journalist, it’s my job to also consider the amount of content one is getting for the price and in my opinion, thirty dollars was a bit too much for a remake of a ten year-old game (even though it had the aforementioned features). “Counterstrike” is equally as old and goes for half that amount, just to put things in perspective. “Rise of Nations: Extended Edition”, I’m pleased to report, is only selling for twenty bucks as opposed to “AoM’s” thirty (as of 6/6/14). While you can still buy the original “RoN” and its expansion for about ten bucks on Amazon, I’d gladly pay the extra ten for multiplayer and Steamworks support. A price tag of thirty bucks, in my opinion, was pushing it.
In the end, “Rise of Nations: Extended Edition” is just as good as I remember it, and more. The music hasn’t changed and the graphics are still a bit outdated, but it’ll provide hours of entertainment and is well worth the price of admission. Whether it was due to reviewers like me or frugal folks like you, I’m glad to see that Microsoft listened and set the price of “Rise of Nations: Extended Edition” to something a bit more reasonable. Whether you’re a youngin who has never heard of “Rise of Nations” or a seasoned retro gamer who has played this years ago but often yearn for an updated version, the “Extended Edition” is worth checking out and picking up (in my humble opinion). Now all we need is a remake of “Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends”…
Final Verdict: 8/10
Editor’s Note: The game will be available sometime in June, 2014.
You can learn more about and purchase “Rise of Nations: Extended Edition” by visiting the following websites: