Rise of Nations, Day 1

edited May 2003 in Gaming


  • edited December 1969
    Well, I've had a chance to play a few more skirmish type games, and the wow just keeps getting wow-er. Rise of Nations is *not* what I expected--it's better. I was expecting a sort of Civ-style thing, but it has much more of an RTS feel. I was also expecting it to be mind-bendingly complex, but most of the complexity reveals itself to you a little at a time, and you can do a lot without knowing all the details.

    Let's start with the tutorials -- the first one, "Quick Start" throws you in, sink or swim, with a few hints along the way. I figured, hey, I"ve played a few RTS & Civ games, I should be able to get the hang of this ...

    Then, about 5 minutes into the game, as I was getting increasingly frustrated trying to figure out where to go next, and how to fend off the raiding parties the AI was sending at me, a little dialog popped up:
     Are you having fun?
    * Yes
    * No, this is too hard, take me to another tutorial
    * No, this is too easy, start a quickmatch game for me

    After working my way through the other tutorials, and learning a bit of what I couldn't figure out from fiddling around, I went back and whomped the Quick Start AI's butt... but it was still a challenge!

    Then on to the real test, a full blown match. I figure I'm not ready to venture online yet, since I know nearly nothing about the techs & units in this game, and I don't want to repeat my Warcraft 3 experience. So I figured I'd take on a "Moderate" AI at "Normal" speed.

    Whoa again!

    It kicked my butt in 20 minutes. This AI is not your standard RTS AI. It fights with coherent, mixed-force armies, and uses feints, retreats, attacks you on multiple fronts and goes for your critical units and structures FIRST. Really impressive.

    This quote from designer Brian Reynolds posted on the Apolyton RoN forum says a lot:
    FYI the "Moderate" level is actually not the highest of the AI-doesn't-cheat levels--for that you want "Tough" level. At Moderate level the AI, believe it or not, pulls some of its punches in terms of aggressiveness which may account for some of the "being too careful" that you noticed. "Tough" is specced as the level at which the AI plays its "best game" without cheating.

    At Tougher & Toughest level the AI does actually get a resource & unit-speed advantage (kind of like giving a skill handicap to a human player in multiplayer) so watch out!

    Mucho credit for the coolness of the AI has to go to our AI specialist, Pranas Pauliukonis (aka "Pancake") who in particular worked on the "Army" code that makes the AI manage his forces as armies rather than as trickles-of-guys.

    The AI briefly uses one of several "scripts" in the Ancient Age to get itself started on the right foot (which script depends on its boom/rush preference), then by early Classical switches to an unscripted strategic AI that responds to (a) the map situation, (b) the "personality" of the AI and (c) what the player does. Of course on the easy level it "responds" by trying to do the wrong thing :-) (e.g. "look he's got an army of archers, let me get started on some pikemen!")

    Have fun!

    I haven't even ventured into the "conquer the world" missions or multiplayer yet, but I'm looking forward to both.

    Rise of Nations r0x0rz.

    [url=http://www.clanplaid.net/~carch/fun/]_/ C's Site o' Fun![/url]
  • edited December 1969
    [b]Re: Rise of Nations, Day 2[/b]

    After a few more Quick Match games, I'm getting more familiar with techs & units. I can beat the AI on Moderate now IF its early attacks don't kill me. With most RTS games, economy is king in the long game, and Rise of Nations is no exception.

    A couple other things about Rise of Nations have struck me -- one extremely nice feature that I've been longing to see in any RTS (or turn based strategy for that matter) is economy of scale. Many games let you pump out units forever, with no penalty other than unweildiness. In Rise of Nations, units (and other things too, I think) cost more as you make more.

    Another nice related feature is attrition. It's a great defensive feature, but maybe a bit TOO great. I'm finding it very hard to make harassing raids to hit my opponent's trade units and outlying economic structures. Maybe I'm not using the right mix of units, but even fast cavalry suffer severe attrition before they can get in and do any damage.

    The different nations provide interesting flavor to the game, with the differing national advantages and unique units. I haven't really exploited the unique units, but the lareger scale abilities are easier to exploit -- for example, I played one nation that starts off with troops immediately when you build a barracks. This lead me to build a few more barracks than usual :)

    I'm still finding the late game fairly frantic, even at a "slow" speed setting. Keeping up with 5 or 6 cities and fighting at the same time is a challenge. In the solo games, I pause when things get REALLY hairy. That's not an option in multiplayer, but there's a feature called "cannon time" that puts the game in super slow mo for 30 seconds of real time.

    The coolest thing about the game, though, is that it gives you the OPTIONS. It lets you slow things down if they're too hectic. It lets you pause at will. You can change the speed at any time. You can save any time. Just about EVERYTHING can be given a shortcut key. I'm a big mouse UI fan, but I'm finding that the more shortcuts I use, the less time I spend paused. Still, I can play with only the mouse at a slower speed and pause any time I need to issue orders, catch up on research or build some new stuff. The game puts the player in complete control. Sweet.

    I'm picking up a lot of great tips on the Apoyton forums at http://apolyton.net/ron/ so check that out if you get this game.

    [url=http://www.clanplaid.net/~carch/fun/]_/ C's Site o' Fun![/url]
  • edited December 1969
    Re: Rise of Nations, Day 2

    Thanks for the reports, carch. I might pick up this game now since it sounds pretty fun.
  • edited December 1969
    Rise of Nations, Day 4

    You're welcome, Wang, and sorry I missed day 3 -- I was up all night playing :)

    Rise of Nations continues to surprise me. So far it has been really easy to have fun with this game while I still feel that I've barely scratched the surface ... I haven't played multiplayer, I haven't even played the solo Conquer the World campaign -- heck, I have barely even touched naval units!

    Last night I was teaching myself to use some of the special units in the game: Generals, Spies and Commandos. They are a lot of fun--a bit TOO fun for me, because they tend to take my attention away from the "main" action at times! That'd be deadly in a multiplayer game.

    The General unit, researched at a Fortress/Castle like the Spy, has several unit-enhancing features, both offensive and defensive. On the offensive side, there's "forced march", which speeds movement and gets you deep into enemy territory quickly, and also "ambush" which temporarily hides your troops to slip behind the lines undetected. On the defensive side, you can order your troops to dig in, which offers great defensive bonuses as long as you don't move; you can also use "decoys" to throw off the enemy as to your true position.

    Spies are horrible--I hate 'em. Well ... in a good way I suppose. They're invisible unless you have explorer/commando units mixed in with your troops, and they can bribe troops! So many times in the heat of battle, a spy will appear and start doing her thing and before I know it, one of my units has defected. Really messes things up. Especially if the enemy brings 3 or 4 of 'em.

    Spies have other abilities too -- I should direct you to the official RoN site before this starts sounding like a feature list for the game. I did want to mention how much fun I had with a troop of commandos last night though. I snuck them into enemy territory and used them to blow up important economic buildings. By keeping the enemy engaged on the front at the same time, it was difficult for them to hold the main line and also fight off the commandos. Great stuff. I can't imagine how annoying that tactic would be in a multiplayer setting :)

    Anyway ... still having fun, learning more... maybe I'll try some naval battles next!

  • edited December 1969
    [b]BTW, check out the Adrenaline Vault & Gamespot reviews[/b]

    RoN r0x0rz. Gamespot and Adrenaline Vault agree. It's Gamespot's 5th highest rated game of the past year, tied with GTA Vice City, Zelda, Tony Hawk 4, NOLF 2, Mafia and Warcraft 3, and the top rated PC game.

    [url=http://www.clanplaid.net/~carch/fun/]_/ C's Site o' Fun![/url]
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