It's been more than ten years since Big Huge Games released the history-spanning RTS Rise of Nations, and yet it still boasts a small but powerfully dedicated fan base. Last year, in a look back at the original game, we hoped that "perhaps one day Rise of Nations could be rescued." And now, after a fashion, it has: Microsoft has apparently acquired the rights to the game and is getting ready to unleash Rise of Nations: Extended Edition on Steam.
Rise of Nations
It all begins so peacefully. A vast field of inky darkness, with just one point of light in the middle. Within it, a library stands tall and proud, but with many shelves left empty. Next to it, a few fields are tended by villagers, and a woodcutters’ camp stands in a clearing nearby. A scout sits and strokes his pet dog. In the middle of it all stands the town centre, its homes packed with children, waiting to come of age and leave a legacy unmatched by any other civilisation on Earth.
Rise of Nations attempts something quite audacious: fitting the entire span of human history into your lunch hour. It’s real-time, as in ‘real-time strategy’, but it accelerates that supposedly ‘real’ time to ludicrous levels, packing the scope of a game of Civilization into an hour without compromising on the detail. You might send a group of hoplites into battle with bronze spears and have them arrive armed with muskets. Imagine the aforementioned Civilization blended with Age of Empires, the Total War series and Red Alert and you’re getting close, but Rise of Nations has a few tricks of its own.
I chatted to Gas Powered Games' Chris Taylor and Microsoft Games' Danan Davis about their new free-to-play game Age of Empires Online. Chris also talks about making Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander, and Danan about making Rise of Nations and Rise of Legends. And everyone has a lot to say about the future of PC gaming.
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