Age of Empires Expansion: The Rise of Rome
It's a testament to Age Of Empires! long term appeal that most people at ZONE still play it more than a year after it was released -though if you saw how often we get slaughtered on Wireplay, you'd be forgiven for thinking we'd never actually played it before. Even though the Al, especially the route-finding, occasionally causes the blood to boil, AOFis largely accepted as one of the best RTS games around, sharing critical acclaim at the top end of the genre with the likes of Command & Conquer: Red Alert and Populous III.
We were originally promised a sequel round about now, but that's been put back until much later next year. So, by way of a stopgap, we have what is essentially a mission disc, promising new missions, units and a few graphical and gameplay tweaks. There are four new civilisations to get to grips with (you can now take control of Carthage, Palmyra, Macedonia or Rome), new units, including an armoured elephant, camel rider, Tire galley, slinger and scyther chariot, and there's heaps of new Roman architecture to gawp at. As well as the usual single and multiplayer options, there are four totally new campaigns made up of dozens of scenarios, including the Rise of Rome campaign from which the mission pack derives its name. Four new researchable technologies (Logistics, Martyrdom, Medicine and Tower Shield) give you something to aim for and even bigger maps and four new map types (mountainous highland, large island, the Mediterranean and a peninsula) make for even more diversity.
The soundtrack is even better than before, and the little gameplay tweaks, which allow you to queue the production of units and double-click on a unit to command all of that type, make things a little easier on the mouse hand. The rather erratic route finding will still occasionally have you screaming with frustration but, as with just about every other RTS game, you just have to live with it and babysit units to make sure they go where they're told.
The fact that you can now alter the population limit using the game settings, coupled with new 'gigantic' maps, makes for some very impressive battles involving hundreds of units. Overall, there's more than enough to justify fans of the original game buying The Rise Of Rome- especially at the generous 'cash back' price of 14.99. Now - bring on Age Of Empires II.
Download Age of Empires Expansion: The Rise of Rome
So, you think you know how to play Age of Empires? This addition changes all you know. Rome is back and stronger than ever. This could also be titled "Take the Best Overall Game of 1997 and Make It Better." There are 19 new campaigns and four new civilizations: Carthaginian, Macedonian, Palmyran and Roman. Carthaginian transports are 30 percent faster, fire galley (New Unit) are +25 percent attack, and academy units and all elephants units are +25 percent hit points. Macedonian academy units have +2 piercing armor, hand-to-hand +2 line of sight, siege workshop units cost 50 percent less, and units are four times more resistant to conversion. The Palmyran civilization has free tribute, double gold per trade trip, villagers have armor, and work 20 percent faster (but cost 50 percent more), and camel riders (New Unit) are 25 percent faster. Roman buildings cost 15 percent less (except towers, walls and wonders), towers cost 50 percent less, and swordsmen attack 33 percent faster.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
If you can play_ Age_, there are only a few new things to learn. For those of you who missed my preview, here’s the info again: The best new addition to the game is the "queuing" of units. You can now click multiple times on building a villager, archer, fishing boat, or any other unit you build and it will crank them out one by one without your having to go back and start another unit. You need to have enough resources to commit at that time, but this allows you to stack up your army without babysitting. A nice benefit is that when you reach your population limit, you can stack up units and as soon as you drop below your limit they start being created. By the time you lose an advanced force doing all kinds of damage and mayhem, you can come back to find the replacement troops ready to group and walk back into battle. If a building is destroyed or converted with queued units, the resources are returned except for the one unit under construction. The new units include Armored Elephant (upgrade to a War Elephant, expensive but worth it if you can swing the cost), Camel Rider (attack bonus against any horse unit, including chariots), Fire Galley (Catapult Trireme Killer; you only get this if you cannot build Catapult Triremes), Scythe Chariot (upgrade to Chariots, REALLY COOL), and a Slinger (against archers and watch towers you get an attack bonus. This is also the first unit that requires stone to build).
There are four new technologies in the game. Logistics: barrack units count only half towards your population limit; this does not include the new units, slingers. Martyrdom: this lets you instantly convert a unit by sacrificing one of your priests; however, this does not work on enemy priests. Medicine: this increases the healing rate of a Priest. Tower Shield: researching this gives infantry and Academy units +1 armor against all Ballista, Helepolis, and missile weapons.
There are a few new items I did not mention in the preview. They include the ability to set population limits in the game setup. There are also new land types and sizes, including a new large map size (gigantic). This is great for lots of players or for people who like to battle it out for hours on end. There are new cheats, but I will let you find them for yourself. Real players play without cheats!
Just when I thought it wasn't possible to improve the graphics, they went and proved me wrong. There is new artwork for the buildings and new units. You have not really won in Age of Empires until you have built a Roman Coliseum (the new wonder for the Romans) and held it for a thousand years. The artwork in the Roman wonder is great and worth the work just to view the splendor. There is also smoothing of the corners in the shadowed and undiscovered areas on the map. This looks better than the sharp corners of the original. At first glance you will not see much change until you play a new civilization. These small additions only enhance the eye candy that Age of Empires already had.
The sound is essential to the game. There is so much going on all the time. Each event has a corresponding sound alerting you of its completion. The sounds tell you when things are finished being produced, created, built, or when you are being attacked. If you have not played much, you may not recognize what each sound means, but you will learn. Keep your speakers turned on if you want to survive.
requires a full copy of Age of Empires and the same system requirements as Age of Empires. Since you are required to have the original to play this expansion pack, if you can play Age, you can play the expansion pack. It does take 48MB for a full install and 30MB for a minimal install in addition to the original install of Age of Empires. If you are really into Age, nothing but the full install will do.
One complaint I do have with Rise of Rome is the lack of a reference card detailing the technology tree and race options. That was the most useful item included with the original Age of Empires, and not having an updated version is annoying.
The only reason I did not give this 100 out of 100 was I wanted more. I wanted more units, more technologies, more campaigns, more of everything. I guess I will have to wait for Age of Kings. This addition does make the game better than the original game, if possible. If someone had told me this a year ago, I would have laughed in their face. You can still play the original in all its glory or try the new. The addition of this pack does not take away your ability to play the game you have grown to obsess over. Some expansion packs just act like afterthoughts or Band-Aids at best, but this one really does improve gameplay. Do not take my word for it, play it yourself. If you have Age, buy the expansion pack. If you have not played Age of Empires, you are missing out. Buy both and get in on the addiction. Or take the easy way out -- download the demo and play today. It will cost you 20.7 MB and you are going to go out and buy them both anyway, so save yourself the download time and go get them. If one hour playing the demo does not convince you to buy this game, you did not download the right demo. This game makes me love history!