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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.

Rise of Nations: Extended Edition

Rise of Nations: Extended Edition (Windows)

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:


  1. Necro
    June 7th, 2014 at 11:51 | #1

    Thanks! Great review & video

  2. metafa
    June 12th, 2014 at 05:55 | #2

    Death threats because you rated a game too expensive for the features its offering? I don’t believe what I am reading. You should really sue these punks.

  3. Josh
    June 14th, 2014 at 20:11 | #3

    Quick question:

    Will this work on Windows 8? I read on some websites that the old/original version of the game didn’t work on Windows 8, so I just want to make sure that it works before I buy it.

    Hope it works on Windows 8 – super excited to get it!

    • Vincent
      June 14th, 2014 at 23:07 | #4

      I have Windows 8.1 and so far no issues. 🙂

  4. June 16th, 2014 at 06:05 | #5

    We want Generals Remake Game.Generals made by EA Games in 2003.Please Generals Extended Edition or Generals HD Edition Please!!!

  5. June 20th, 2014 at 16:16 | #6


    We play C&C Generals since 2003.Generals game .The game is old game.And it isn’t compatible with Windows 7 and higher operating systems.We want a new Generals game .We need to start survey!!!

  6. September 30th, 2014 at 22:17 | #7

    Having played both games religiously myself, I find myself disagreeing with you about Starcraft/Warcraft and Rise of Nations. Starcraft is no “chew toy” for its main purpose (Highly competitive play) anymore than Counter-Strike 1.6 is an all-around inferior game because it’s as old as many gamers today. Comparing them to each other is comparing apples and oranges. I might as well say Sins of a Solar Empire, a more recent RTS, is superior to Starcraft because it’s more complex. This ignores all kinds of other variables, chief among them pacing.

    There’s no way Rise of Nations beats the Blizzard titles for fast-paced, frenetic competitive play. There’s a reason they’re major eSports. You can dig up gameplay footage of them and see the difference. They’re very micromanagement-heavy and if you watch the actual players while they’re at it, you’ll see their hands blazing across the keyboard at speeds most experienced typists couldn’t manage. Even more impressive is the fact that these players have to learn and execute all kinds of very specific strategies to the point they could do them almost on muscle memory alone, and yet they also need to be flexible enough to adapt to whatever the opponent manages to pull. That’s the scary thing: The speed isn’t the cause of the strategy, but rather the result of it. They’ve honed their knowledge of gameplay mechanics to a fine edge, the point where every second gained or lost by a specific strategy counts so much that it could make or break the match for them. Look up “Teamliquid Wiki” if you want to see just how complex the metagame is. Not unlike classic board games, a relatively simple set of rules can still spawn incredibly complex strategies with a great deal of flexibility as to their specific implementation. Starcraft is the Quake of RTS games.

    What about Rise of Nations? Rise of Nations would be Battlefield. I’ll stop short of calling it ArmA. That one goes to Company of Heroes for its unmatched level of attention paid to real-life battlefield mechanics. Rise of Nations falls short in a few areas here, largely thanks to its rock-paper-scissors approach to them. For instance, there’s no way hoplites, even en masse, could take on an Abrams tank of any kind and win. The tank wouldn’t even have to fire its weapons, it’d just run over them as they helplessly break their bronze and/or iron spearpoints on its impenetrable ceramic armor or just flee in terror. But it’s quite realistic for an RTS overall and it puts you in charge of things at a larger scale than most RTS games. It also focuses on the civilian side of running a wartime economy, something else which isn’t seen in games like Starcraft or Company of Heroes. In some gamemodes, it’s all ABOUT the civilian aspect. At a fundamental level, it’s more complex but also more relaxed in pacing, as is the case with a lot of RTS games which don’t focus on speed, on-the-fly thinking, and control efficiency the way titles like C&C and especially the Blizzard titles do. It’s certainly still a strategy game and in quite a few ways is more in-depth than Starcraft or Warcraft, but in a different way, more like chess. It’s a more cerebral experience, and an almost magical-feeling one at times, thanks to its stellar score and the knowledge that you’re shaping the course of history in the story. You can choose to do things as they were done in actual history, or as you see fit to do instead. For instance, sending Abrams tanks through the streets of Moscow or T-80s through D.C., or raising the French flag over Moscow as Napoleon.

    A better comparison might be to something like Sins of a Solar Empire, or Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, which had similar mechanics and focuses. I’d still call SoaSE and RoN/SW:GB an apples-to-oranges comparison. Rise of Nations is a development of more traditional RTS forms, while Sins of a Solar Empire is a more recent, highly unconventional mix of 4X and RTS elements and has very slow pacing as a result, slower than RoN or other games like it. Like so many comparisons, one will find that saying one game is better is far too subjective to apply to most games, especially games with as varied a target demographic and set of gameplay mechanics as real-time strategy.