Mediocre follow-up to one of the best RTS games ever made.

User Rating: 7 | Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends PC
I am a huge fan of Rise of Nations. It took the exciting real-time strategy formula of the Age of Empires games and perfected it. I was hoping that Rise of Legends would be a worthy successor, and on a few levels it is. However, after playing through the campaign and a few skirmishes, it's largely forgettable.

Gameplay: The game can be quite fun at times. The three races are fairly distinct, with their own heroes, structures, and backstories. The city building is perhaps the most innovative part of the game. While there is some base sprawl that is characteristic of these kinds of games, it looks more orderly and planned. The kinds of buildings that you build determine your progress up the tech tree. Each race has a good selection of units.

The campaign serves to introduce you to the three races and their heroes. The storyline is not particularly compelling and feels overly long by the time that you get to the end. It is a mix of metamap movement and real-time battles, but not as well done as in Rise of Nations and other games. The game also has a skirmish mode, and the patches have added a healthy number of maps. But the battles feel very ordinary, especially since none of the units have any voice acknowledgments or personalities.

Graphics & Sound: The game is very attractive. Some of the maps are gorgeous. The units are well-crafted and distinct, and the special effect are quite adequate. The most disappointing thing about the game is that the units are so quiet. After playing games like Dawn of War or Battle for Middle Earth 2 where each unit has spoken dialogue, to play a game that is largely silent just doesn't cut it. It makes the whole experience flat and uninspired. On the bright side, the music is very reminiscent of the excellent Rise of Nations soundtrack.

Documentation/Technical Issues: The manual that comes with the game is descent. The game did crash on me a number of time in the campaign, even after patching. Thankfully, you can save the game at any point and don't have to rely upon any checkpoint foolishness.

Replayability/Value: The campaign is worth a good playthrough and maybe a second one at some time. The skirmish mode is really the hook for RTS games, but the one in this game is just too generic and devoid of character. If you liked Rise of Nations, you'll probably be ambivalent toward Rise of Legends. There are a number of things to like here and that will remind you of Rise of Nations. However, it just doesn't quite measure up to the grand sweep and groundbreaking gameplay of its predecessor.

+Interesting races
+Artistic maps
+Innovative city-building mechanics
+Hero characters
+Decent campaigns

-Generic skirmish mode
-Poor sound work, especially lack of voices
-Some instability, even after patching