Rise of Nations: Thrones and Patriots
Under heavy artillery fire I command my generals to attack enemy territory. A couple of seconds later, about one hundred infantry units and a 20-some tanks follow in the footsteps of my loyal generals. The enemy has spotted me it seems as a complete welcoming committee is present. To increase my chances of winning I send in a couple of fighter airplanes to the battlefield. After a heavy struggle I manage to reach the enemy city and take it with about 20 troops. All my men haven’t died for nothing, what a relief !
There aren’t many games that can pull me in with the gameplay. Well, the first Rise of Nations expansion, Thrones & Patriots succeeds without any problems ! Hours and hours I worked on some major wars that I wanted to plan up to perfection to be crowned winner with the utter most display of power. The original game got a whopping 94.2% from Fragland and since this expansion adds quite some new features, the total experience promises to become even a whole lot better. It’s hard to remain objective after playing such a beautiful totality as I should limit myself to the new things, but I’ll try!
Let’s start with the new stuff you notice from the beginning when launching the game. There haven’t been many changes to the interface except that you can start Library-Research from the very first meny so without having to look for the specific buildings.
With an RTS-expansion new tribes are of course also included and this time that means six new ones. From the beginning on you can start kicking ass with the old South-American Maya’s and their nortern neighbours: the Americans (split into two nations: the ancient Indians – which now can only be found in reservates – and the European colonists who declared their independence in the 18th century), the real Indians (habitants of India) and even the Hollanders ! These virtual cheese farmers have some economic advantages like weapons on their caravans (Hollanders and caravans… inseperable as usual), and also at sea they have some unique vessels that have quite some strength.
There’s also 4 new campaigns; The New World (first steps on American soil), The Cold War (USA vs. USSR), Alexander the Great (Perzians against the rest) and Napoleon (France having it in their head a bit much). Personally I like playing in the current time with modern weapons and therefore I found The Cold War by far the best campaign in the game. Still I find it too bad that a WW2 conflict is nowhere to be found since RoN could easily be used for that.
Another new thing is the Senate. Here you can create several different types of government like Monarchy or Socialism. These will give you an added bones on military or economical grounds. Depending on your political side you’ll also get a general, also known as patriot. He’ll be able to heal your troops or make your artillery shoot faster which opens some new tactical possibilities.
What other new features can you expect ? There’s 3 new wonders that again give several different advantages. The graphics are a tidbit sharper although that could be me not looking cross-eyed. Let’s say that with the engine hasn’t really been improved but that the whole can still compete with the current generation of RTS games.
Like with the original there’s nothing to complain about the sound. Atmospheric music that changes depending on whether you win or loose a battle and realistic sound effects of weapons and vehicles. What does an RTS need more ?
In multiplayer some extra options have been added so that you can play the game as you like. In other games it sometimes happens that after you’ve created an immense army and are preparing to attack, your opponent will still win just because he created x amount of wonders more than you. No more faggot from now on, there will be fights fought to the last drop of sweat (if you choose for that of course)
All these options are also possible in a free game where the human counterpart is replaced by a number of computer controlled players of which you can determine the strength. And believe me, from moderate (normal setting) on the computer will do tactical attacks and winning will not be so simple anymore. Realise that there are 2 even higher levels and you’ll instantly know that you’ll have to practice a lot if you want to beat the AI on the highest setting!
Now the question: are those 6 new countries, 3 new wonders, 4 new campaigns, addition of political strategies and a couple of other new things enough to fill a full expansion ? I think so although I must admit that on paper it looks rather weak. The new campaigns are by far the best surprises that will keep you clustered to your screen for hours and hours. The whole has become even more than before one hell of a game and a must for every RTS lover! If you find this game somewhere in some gold edition or something, be sure to get it !