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Game Over Online ~ Rise of Nations: Thrones and Patriots (c) Microsoft Game Studios

Rise of Nations: Thrones and Patriots (c) Microsoft Game Studios

Published: Monday, April 19th, 2004 at 05:13 PM
Written By: Jeff 'Linkphreak' Haynes

The RTS has always been popular for PC gaming, with a majority of them based in the future or science fiction. The historical RTS hasn’t been as prevalent, especially considering Microsoft’s domination of the genre. The success of the Age of Empires series proved that staging conquests of the world using culturally accurate units were appealing to many gamers. Building upon this formula, last year’s Rise of Nations provided an equally in-depth gaming experience that seemed to mix Age’s strategy with Civilization’s land development and the global intrigue of the board game Risk. Well, the Microsoft and Big Huge Games are preparing to increase the scope of their international conflict with their first expansion pack, Rise of Nations: Thrones and Patriots.

Like the previous Age of Empires expansions, Thrones and Patriots boosts the number of units and nations that can be played. The most immediately noticeable tweak is the significant inclusion of the North American continent. The Americans are now playable, as are two Native American nations, the Lakotas and the Iroquois. These three join the newly added Dutch, Persians and Indians, raising the total number of factions to 24. Capitalizing upon each country’s strengths, these newer groups play differently than the first title. For instance, the economic focus of the Dutch provides them with a more significant commercial base than other countries at the start, while the nomadic nature of the Lakota provides them with different food gathering bonuses and fast cavalry units.

Along with these recent states, three newer Wonders of the World have been added as well, providing further scientific, economic or military bonuses for savvy generals. For those who haven’t played the first title, these impressive feats of construction bolster the cities they reside in and the nation that builds them significantly, often helping to swing the balance of campaigns. The first Wonder, The Hanging Gardens, boosts knowledge throughout your empire. The next one, The Red Fort, is a significant military structure, especially during sieges of your territory. Finally, The Forbidden City is virtually identical to having a second capital city.

Aside from the above cultural facets, there are other subtle changes, such as the ability to determine your nation’s form of government with the establishment of a senate. Choosing this form of representation (or lack thereof, in the case of despotism) produces different effects upon your culture, such as economic or military bonuses. It also creates a “patriot” unit, a hero-like character who imparts additional benefits on nearby units or structures. On top of these tweaks to gameplay, Thrones and Patriots attempts to implement a story-like structure within the Conquer the World feature. Four scenarios have been added, following the exploits of Alexander the Great, Napoleon, exploration of the New World and even the Cold War. The cool thing about this mode is that the game actually tries to provide some historic context to each mission. For example, as you invade some territory as Alexander the Great, Thrones and Patriots provides some information as to how the actual events in that region took place. With these adjustments, Thrones and Patriots should provide a significant amount of innovation to the Rise of Nations franchise when it hits shelves in a week. Check back soon for a full review!

Questions or comments about the upcoming release of Rise of Nations: Thrones and Patriots for the PC? Talk to us!

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