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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Real-time Strategy

 

Publisher

Microsoft

 

Developer

Big Huge Games

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

April 2004

 

 

- Loads of new content

- New focused campaigns

- Government dynamic

 

 

- No major improvements

 

 

Review: Rise of Nations (PC)

Review: Empire Earth  (PC)

Review: Impossible Creatures (PC)

 

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Rise of Nations: Throne and Patriots

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

I really enjoyed the first Rise of Nations, and I wasnít surprised to see it followed up with the requisite expansion pack given its success. Last time around, I conquered the world with the Mongols using no diplomacy. Through pure invasive conquest, I took over the world and it felt damn good. This time around, not much has changed and the minor quibbles I had with the original still remain. However, the inclusion of some great new campaigns, more than make up for those setbacks.

 

throne and patriots review           throne and patriots review

 

Damn them all, but the Vikings are still not present. Maybe Iím just very bad at history to think that they would have been appropriate as a civilization for inclusion, but I think it would have been nice to play as the horny helmeted ones. Instead, we are offered new civilizations in the forms of the Iroquois, the Americans, the Indians, the Persians, the Dutch, and the Lakota. While we also receive the standard offerings in the form of new units and buildings, the primary tweaks to the game come in the form of the new Government component to the game and the new single player campaigns.

 

One of my main gripes with the original game was a lack of a varied single player campaign. While you could conquer the world, advancing through the ages, it wasnít all that fun or captivating as each nation conquered basically played out as the same experience. Now with the new single player campaigns, the conquest of 

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certain areas based on historical conquest brings to the table a whole new set of challenges.

 

In the Alexander the Great portion, diplomacy is limited as you must show the rest of the known world who is boss, and put your stamp on history. To this end, there are certain gameplay rules to help recreate what it would have been like for the great general to have had to conquer those many nations. Of course 

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there is also the Napolean campaign where you must become Emperor, and control all of Europe in order to win the campaign. The remaining campaigns are rounded out by the New World campaign, involving the European expansion to North America, and finally the Cold War campaign. 

 

While each of these campaigns has their own set of unique rules, the Cold War campaign is the true gem of the bunch. The rules, and conditions of victory do an unbelievable job in recreating the historical tension of events. In it, you choose to play as either the Americans or the Soviets. There is a Defcon meter that increases when more aggressive actions are performed such as attacking a country under Soviet control. If too many aggressive actions are taken, a thermonuclear war is triggered. As such, conquering the Soviet nations must be handled with restrained aggression and through diplomacy in the turn based portion of the game.

 

In a true stroke of genius, there are also spy missions in this campaign. In them you receive a bunch of spies with specific targets to destroy. Successfully completing these missions will grant your side special bonuses. The tension of nuclear war is also a possibility as you can create up to three nuclear weapons on each of the territories you control to be used as you see fit.

 

Of course, the Conquer the World campaign is still present and is still as open and singular as ever. Although I really enjoyed it the first time around, the singularity of the purpose of the campaign has not changed and through pure battering of all nations, the world will become yours. This campaign truly pales in comparison to the new, more focused campaign set. With their unique set of rules replicating the conditions of the time, each of these unique campaigns has a focused victory condition and truly brings a new dynamic that was needed, to the single player portion of the game.

 

throne and patriots review          throne and patriots review

 

There is also the inclusion of the government portion to all aspects of the expansion pack. This adds a special patriot unit to the game that grants your nation with special bonuses depending on what government style you choose. Choosing Despotism over a Republic will give you the Despot General that is great for giving battle oriented bonuses while in the presence of your units. In an opposite manner, the Senator in the Republic government style gives your nation healing and bribing bonuses. As your nation advances through the ages in the course of the game, you will be able to choose from pair of new governments through each advancement of an age.

 

Overall, while the gameplay experience is now more varied and focused, it remains largely unchanged from the original game which is good and bad. It is good because the original game was pretty much faultless in design, but it is not so good because in my mind, in order to be an absolutely perfect expansion pack, the addition to the gameplay dynamics should be indispensable. Players without the expansion pack should be mocked for their inferiority if they do not own it and multiplayer servers should be snooty to them. This is what truly perfect expansion packs should be like, and they are indeed rare.

 

While Thrones and Patriots doesnít reach this level of gameplay innovation, it really does add some excellent new single player campaigns, along with the requisite add-ons of  more nations, and new units as well as  a new government component. While not indispensable to owners of the original game, Rise of Nations gamers would do well to pick up this expansion pack. For those of you who have conquered the world with no diplomacy, only through diplomacy, with the Chinese, Japanese, the Mayans, and every other nation possible, Thrones and Patriots will satisfy your need for conquest.

 

- Mark Leung

(May 23, 2004)

 

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