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  Review: Rise of Nations  
Posted 2003-06-17 by Tony Walsh
Rise of Nations

Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Big Huge Games
Est. Price: $75CDN
Availability: Now

In the world of computer games, latest does not always equate greatest, but recently released Rise of Nations published by Microsoft Game Studios may by the cream of the strategy-game crop. Representing the inaugural title for developers Big Huge Games, Rise of Nations was guided from conception to completion by agile mind of veteran strategy game designer Brian Reynolds. Renowned for former hits Civilization II, and Alpha Centauri, Reynolds has poured the accumulated experience from these million-sellers into a new mould combining the best elements of popular Real-Time and Turn-Based Strategy games.

Rise of Nations gives players the reigns for one of eighteen unique nations in a variety of campaign types that run the gamut from 90-minute Quick Battles to the board game-like Conquer the World, and includes online multiplayer capacity for up to eight players. Cities are key strategic points in Rise of Nations, each with a surrounding radius defining your nation's border. Resources are vitally important, as with all games of this type, and include not only standard earthly materials but a knowledge resource as well. Stock your universities with scholars and reap the rewards!

Visually, Rise of Nations breaks no new ground, although the level of graphic detail is greater than most of its older cousins, so zooming in to take a closer look can be very rewarding. Units are represented by groups of three men, lending a more populated look to front-line conflicts. Each nation possesses a characteristic visual identity and the ability to erect unique monuments. Nuclear explosions are tiny, yet impressive, leaving a swath of smoking corpses in their wake. Overall, the scenery makes an impressive backdrop for countless "what if" scenarios.

The jewel in the Rise of Nations crown is the potentially limitless replay value. With human opponents available online as well as an included scenario/map editor, there will be enough community interest to maintain Rise of Nation's rule of the strategy-game roost for some time to come.

Click here to view screenshot thumbnails.
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