reviewed on PC
I am a big fan of strategy titles ever since the days of Starcraft. I loved the two-on-two gameplay where a friend and I would coordinate to launch a devastating attack using every single unit to make the others stronger. Age of Empires and its look-alikes are a completely different coin, here you don't micromanage your units to make a strong attack but you counter build your opponent (if he's making air you make anti-air).
I have never been a huge fan of this strategy paradigm but with every release I've come to like it more and more, I believe that strategy titles are going towards some common ground where you have to micromanage your units but you also have to counter-build. All this goes to introduce Rise Of Legends which, I think, is one of the most recent efforts to reach this common ground I'm speaking of.
From minimap to strategic map
The campaign mode of Rise of Legends, is a joy to play. When you begin you will see the strategic map, where you can make decisions on which city to attack next, each city has different powers and different levels of resistance, for example, in one of the early levels you will attack a gigantic airfield and so you will face a lot of air units, some time later you will have to take a city that's on the top of a mountain in yet another level you have to rescue some miners to be able to make gold. I find the variety pleasing even if the missions are not as creative as the missions in for example The Frozen Throne.
I make that comparison because the game is a lot more like Warcraft III than Rise of Nations (its predecessor) was; but it's still greatly influenced by Age of Empires. This is most noticeable in battles between big armies where small characters last just a few seconds, especially when many heroes are involved. On the other hand, battles with few units are much more strategic, you have to move your units to avoid contact with bigger units and you have to navigate your own units while using your hero's special abilities to get an edge. I think I like this new style more than Age of Empires'.
Pick your poison
The main new addition is the ability to choose a race. There are three races to choose from and each has special abilities and different heroes. Each race has its strengths and weaknesses, for example, the Vinci are a very good race for long games because their updates will make them more and more powerful the longer a game is but on the other hand they are weak on short games or on small maps because they won't be able to research the more powerful weapons and technologies.
Another new addition to the game are heroes. Each race summons their heroes using the hero portraits on the left of the screen, summoning heroes costs resources so you can't summon them anytime you want. Once they are on the battlefield they can turn the tide of a battle with their super powers, which you get access to by paying resources.
I think that's actually one of the biggest problems of this game; Two heroes fighting alone are enough to finish a medium sized army while other heroes can do enormous amounts of damage to buildings. Taking care of your capital becomes very difficult because of this. A game with high level heroes between more than two players will become a camping session where nobody can leave their capital to attack another player, which makes for one of the most boring ways to lose ten hours.
No Pros and Cons at this time