July 30, 2005

Rise of Nations: Thrones & Patriots

I am a hardcore gamer, and as such, will only give a review from that perspective. Hardcore gamers can be unusually harsh about the games they don't like, and even more so for the ones they do like. We're funny that way. Each one is finicky in their own way about a game, and there are four things I look for in an Real-Time Strategy game in order for me to want to play it:
  1. Strategy
  2. Gameplay
  3. Balance
  4. Online
Strategy (33/35)- Rise of Nations: Thrones & Patriots, usually called T&P, actually increases the strategic element with an expansion to the original Rise of Nations. RoN had the three basic elements of a good strategy game:
  • Diverse Playing Fields - Offense, Defense, Economy.
  • Counter Systems - Rushing, Raiding, Assaulting, Booming.
  • Tactical Advantages - Counter Units, Spies, Generals, Borders.
T&P adds more by providing Governments that level the Playing field, aid Counter Systems, and diversify Tactical Advantages.

Gameplay (20/25) - The gameplay is much the same as RoN (which was very good), except the Governments speed up the game intensity. There's more fighting at the beginning, but more booming in the middle. As far as expert level 1vs1 games, it rarely gets to the Information Age anymore. I'll have to give it a slight dip in Gameplay value for that.

Balance (18.5/25)
- One of the reasons the Gameplay took a decline is because of the balance of the new Governments. While a new idea improved the Strategic Value of the game, it took away being able to get to the last two Ages when it gets particularly fun and intense. That's 20% of the game not being played anymore... that's a big balance problem. Some strong Nations took too big of a nerf where they are just downright slow. Out of the 5 new Nations, Iroquois are pretty strong, Americans can be strong against weaker Nations, and the Persians and Indians are about average. The Lakota are problematic where they have a lot of weaknesses, but few very good strengths. Some of the other Nations weren't re-balanced with the new Governments taken into consideration. All-in-all, the balance job wasn't as good as it was in RoN, but at least it's more difficult to see it from most player's point of view.

Online (11.5/20)
- The online interface didn't change much, and people behind routers still cannot host unless they reconfigure their router, which is a big hassle. The rating point system still encourages smurfing and point trading, and it's not very well engineered. However, the joy of playing a game against other people, being able to observe their games while they play, and almost no chugginess through lag makes it an enjoyable experience once you get around the interface.

Overall Score 83% - As I said, hardcore gamers can be harsh about the games they like. However, when I'm playing, I'm not thinking about how bad the game is and how much I hate playing it, I'm thinking about how much better the game could have been if they improved certain aspects of it. The strategy is the best in an RTS game that I've seen in quite a while, but the gameplay took a hit, and the balance went out of whack. The first RTS game from a company isn't going to have the best Online interface, so I give a lot of credit to Big Huge Games on a job well done. The second time around, there are no excuses for a poor Online experience and balance issues are supposed to be better in an expansion pack.

5 Comments:

Blogger AU_sims said...

If anything, at least while I was playing (up til a month ago), more games were heading towards Info. Or maybe that's just because we wanted to steer the game in that direction--we liked to boom, and bird's late game is one of the (if not the) best in the game.

8:50 PM  
Blogger El_Capitan (a.k.a. Scrubs) said...

I think the games can drag up to the Information Age, but game is actually decided earlier, like in Enlightenment and Industrial Age at the latest.

7:12 PM  
Blogger OMG_how_I_suck said...

BHG has created a true gem but seems determined to leave it somewhat unfinished. I really don't understand why they put everything into their upcoming game, which is still far away, instead of establishing an all-time classic.

5:00 AM  
Blogger Ukrainer1917 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:13 PM  
Blogger Ukrainer1917 said...

El_Capitan, I very like your playing RON, probably, I can say that you are one of my RON-idols.
And I want to ask you. Have you ever played with Sitanohatis, The_Greek, Dhoom2 and such players like them. Can you please send your replays to my e-mail.

1:14 PM  

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