Strategy & War
Is there anything finer than leading a group of soldiers across a digital battlefield, laying waste to an enemy and burning their best-laid plans to ash? In my mind, the answer is no. There are many aspects of such conquest that appeal to me. The warrior in me is partial to the frenetic pace of real-time combat, with weapons and bodies scattered violently. The general in me, on the other hand, likes to coldly plan stratagems and watch them be executed flawlessly on the field, but always from a safe distance. There are many different games out there that fill one void or another, but none really sate both halves of my whole. Fortunately, things are about to change.
This summer the crazy horde at MacSoft will be bringing Rise of Nations to Macs around the globe. Developed by Big Huge Games, Rise of Nations will be a genre bender unlike any our platform has ever seen. At its core, Rise of Nations is a real-time strategy game, but with a unique twist. Big Huge Games is a new developer that was founded by the fellows who helped create Civilization II and Alpha Centauri, two of the most acclaimed turn-based strategy games of all time. With that background in mind, Rise of Nations was born; a delicate mélange of real-time and turn-based strategic gameplay. Barring a disastrous port by the competent pros at Westlake Interactive, this game will rock. There are dozens of awards under the PC version’s belt to back my statement. I’m only here to give a taste of how hard this game will rock our one-button mice.
A Realistic and Down to Earth Show… That’s Completely Off-the-WallAt first glance, Rise of Nations looks very much like Age of Empires II, but first glances can be most deceiving. Sure, RoN features 18 historically accurate nations, the ability to advance nation technology through various ages and of course, real-time combat, but that’s only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. RoN also takes elements from the turn-based strategy genre and melds them into traditional RTS gameplay. For example, the single-player campaign mode is very reminiscent of the classic board game, Castle Risk.
The player is presented with a view of a world map, some countries occupied by other nations, while others are left unoccupied. Countries are occupied by a game piece that represents a player’s army. Moving an army into an adjacent country initiates an attack. At this point, RoN switches gears toward the RTS side of the coin. Each attack is unlike typical RTS fare, something that Mac gamers will find refreshing. For instance, if one invades a country that is unoccupied by a rival nation, they still must contend with said country’s barbarian ruler. Sometimes an attack scenario might involve defending one’s base against a barbarian onslaught for 30 minutes, or raiding a small enemy encampment to achieve victory. After defeating an enemy, the player takes control of the country and is given a variety of bonuses. One such bonus comes in the form of a card. Each attack (or non-attack) represents a game turn. Game cards are played prior to an attack and confer benefits such as extra starting resources, or troop reinforcements.
Throughout the campaign, players can achieve victory through a deft balance military domination and diplomatic tap dancing. Players can forge diplomatic alliances with other nations and even coordinate attacks against common foes.