Rise of Legends Preview – E3 Coverage

By Socvazius

So you’re Big Huge Games. Ignoring the fact that you run on an abstract business model, you’ve just made mad stacks of money off of a computer game that covers the entire span of human history. What do you do now? You can’t very well make another historical game as your previous one already covered it in some way, it wouldn’t make too much sense. Instead of history, you look into fiction. Fantasy is pretty cool, but overdone. Science fiction as well. What about some kind of convoluted merging of the two? Well, that’s what Big Huge Games managed with Rise of Legends.

All they need are some dungeons and they’re set.

Rise of Legends is set in a fictional world with four civilizations vying for power: the industrial Vinci (based on Leonardo Da Vinci’s sketches and such), magic-wielding Alim (based off of Arabian myth and legend), and two unknown factions. All of those civilizations are similar in the respect that they are centered around enormous city complexes. These aren’t the tiny town centers of Rise of Nations, these things are freaking huge. They don’t even start off quaint, but as your civilization advances, you add “districts” to them; districts give you certain advantages based on what kind you build (A Military district can get you extra troops, for example). A certain number of them are required for you to level up your city (3 levels total), which is basically the gaming equivalent of going up something like four ages in RoN. By the end of the your city’s advancement, it takes up practically two screens and looks bloody awesome.

These huge cities pretty well exemplify the entire theme of Rise of Legends; I mean, good lord, the scale of practically everything has to be in relation to the size of the screen. Every race has extremely powerful superunits; the Alim have two dragons – sand and glass – that have some sweet special powers such as the glass dragon’s ability to focus light through its body and blow the crap out of just about anything. The Vinci, on the other hand, have this gargantunan spider-like machine with much resemblance to Dr. Arliss Loveless’ giant spiderbot from Wild Wild West. It has a really big drill.

…That’s just a tiny part of a city.

Heroes also get nice powers, some of them actually comparable to god powers in Age of Mythology. One Alim hero can freeze all the units in one area for a short period of time and a Vinci hero can call in a squadron of helicopter-type attack craft, all of the heros can make quite a difference in a battle if used correctly. But it’s not just the superunits and heros that get special abilities. It seems as though most units in Rise of Legends have some sort of power, though most aren’t as apparent as big drills or superfocused laser light. Overall, management of unit special abilities appears to replace flanking and all that classical fighting jazz in Rise of Legends.

Size even pepetuates to the game’s environment. Enormous chasms traverse the landscape, which are pretty spectacular in themselves. Bridges can be built to cross these rifts, which can be the focus of much fighting; armies can be bottlenecked there or a bridge can be destroyed altogether, killing everything on the structure. Gotta love plummeting hundreds of feet to your death.

Big-ass cannon ahoy!

As strange and different as this pony is to its predecessor, Rise of Legends still has the most fundamental aspects of RoN gameplay. Borders, attriction, and the Conquer the World map remain, although CtW has undergone a bit of a makeover. The map is more lush and detailed and the size of the cities on the map correspond to the size of the cities in the game. By best of all, it’s propelled by a story that has been worked on for two years by an experienced, full-time writer at Big Huge Games.

Such a bold venture into a new setting such as this could mean either a flop or an amazing success for Big Huge Games; I don’t see any middle ground for Rise of Legends. As any good gamer should, I hope for the best, and hope they’re able to match, or even surpass, Rise of Nations.

I took a considerable amount of notes from my demo/first-hand gaming/talk with Graham “Thunder” Somers at E3 and obviously wasn’t able to put all of that information in this article, so here’s all the most interesting stuff I found that’s not addressed above:

  • Rise of Legends is slated for a Spring 2006 release.
  • Wonders cannot be built, they already exist on each map and can be controlled by any player. Most wonders directly effect the game; one wonder is an enormous cannon that can lay waste to entire cities.
  • Timonium is one of two resources in the game (second one being gold, which is generated by cities and trading). Coincidentally, Big Huge Games is located in Timonium, Maryland.
  • Infantry continue to be useful even in the late-game as they are the most effective way to capture a city.
  • Shrapnel from buildings damages nearby units, making sieges particularly lethal.
  • If you have the most technologies researched in one particular tech line, you receive a “dominance”, which gives you a bonus appropriate for the type of tech line that it was from.