Rise & Fall: Civilizations at War
The man behind Rise & Fall is Rick Goodman, who we know from Age of Empires. Promising, but his new founded studio, Stainless Studios, went broke. Did the game suffer from this?
As in so many RTS games the following optoins are at your disposal: campaign, skirmish or creating your own scenarios with the editor. The campaign lets you follow in the footsteps of Alexander the Great or Cleopatra. Both of them fight their arch-enemies in about 12 missions. This means that some 24 missions wait for you. The storylines are ordinary, they won’t really occupy you. But this isn’t the most important.
The missions are built up nicely and variated, with only one disadvantage: the slightly changed functioning of the Hero Mode. More about the Hero Mode later, let me first tell you a little about the Skirmishes. The maps you can choose from have their own characteristics, which makes them almost little scenarios. This is nice and will amuse you for a while.
RTS games are abundant and so the creators have to come up with something unique or innovating. Having Rick Goodman in your team works too, but especially the Hero Mode has been put forward to be the unique element of Rise & Fall. Hero Mode implies you taking on the role of your hero (in 3rd person view) to decide a battle in your favour. Every civilization (choose from: Persians, Greeks or Romans) has two heros with of course their own advantages and disadvantages.
Because the heros are very strong and else it wouldn’t be an RTS anymore, it is logical that this is limited. Stamina takes cares of this. Once the blue bar is empty the Hero Mode isn’t available anymore, until the bar refills. In the campaign the bar can only be refilled by breaking jars, which are not placed randomly. This makes many missions somewhat linear. Some missions are completely in Hero Mode, wether you like it or not, depends on your preferences. Some will like it, some will hate it. On the whole the Hero Mode is a nice feature.
Naval combat forms the innovating and strongest point of Rise & Fall, because of the many possibilities. An enemy ship in your way? Ram it! Not enough ships of your own? Enter one of your opponent! The details are also very nice. Units on a ship that has been rammed will fall into the water. You can let them drown or shoot them with your archers. If your own troops are in the water you can order them to swim to the nearest coast. That way you can save at least some of them. The ships also serve as floating barracks.
The game demands much of your computer, so with a less strong system you’ll often experience framedrops. If you should get addicted to this game, the loading times can still be used as pauze to eat or drink something, but actually it won’t be that addictive for the most of you. There are also a great deal of annoying bugs, like your troops who get stuck in the strangest of places. Now that we’re talking about the troops, they seem to have no brains. They act as fools, which causes you to watch them at every step. Instead of a great commander you have to be the babysit. Invisible walls aren’t absent either, they turn up where you least expect it.
The graphics should have been better, especially in the cutscenes (watch the hands). There isn’t more to say. The sound is allright, the voices too are as they should be, except for that of Cleopatra, which is very good.
Rise & Fall: Civilizations at War did suffer. it seems like it that since the downfall of Stainless Studios the game wasn’t worked on anymore. A shame, because it was very promising.