Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome
Windows - 1998
Description of Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome Windows
While many Age of Empires and real-time strategy fans wait eagerly for the sequel due out sometime next year, Ensemble Studios', in the meantime, have graced us with a good quality expansion pack which adds that extra touch of variety to the original title. There's really not a whole lot to 'review' in Rise of Rome, as the new features list is the perfect summation as to what you get for your money. They are as follows:
- Four new civilizations: Cathaginian, Macedonian, Palmyran, and (of course) Roman.- Five new units: Armored Elephant, Camel Rider, Fire Galley, Scythe Chariot and Slinger.- Four new technologies (or 'researchable upgrades'): Logistics, Martyrdom, Medicine and Tower Shield.- Four new campaigns- Four new map types: Continental, Mediterranean, Hill Country and Narrows.- New Roman tileset- A number of miscellaneous interface upgrades and added options including:
- queued unit building
- double-clicking selects all units of that type on screen
- new "Gigantic" map size for skirmishes
- can choose "random civilization" in skirmish games
- can jump instantly to the portion of screen relevant to the last sound cue (eg. an attack warning)
- allied Town Centers are visible when you begin allied multiplayer gamers (still no option to 'share vision' without having to research it though - boo!)
- customizable population limit in multi games.
Units and Techs
After installing the expansion, your original AOE is automatically patched to the latest version available, 1.0b. Hopefully, many AOE owners will have already upgraded to at least 1.0a in the past, as that patch drastically altered many AI and path-finding issues which would have severely marred your enjoyment of the game had you played it through with version 1.0. If you haven't patched AOE in the past, then this expansion will really breathe new life into the game!
The 'bulk' of the expansion pack is undoubtedly the extra units and upgrades available. While five additional units could be considered a somewhat stingy amount, the new unit types do actually force a change in your strategic thinking. Ensemble were obviously addressing criticisms with multiplay in the original game where the cavalry units tended to be the most powerful and were often favored over the other alternatives (specifically infantry). The new camel rider evens the balance somewhat as it sports a high damage advantage over cavalry but none on infantry (which, along with their fast speed, was the cavalry's ace card). So this new unit implements a distinct paper-rock-scissors formula which was previously missing.
The other low-level unit is the slinger. Judging by his statistics, he has been brought into the fray to defend against early missile attacks from archers or guard towers - he scores both extra damage against range units plus extra armor against missile attacks. Again, another unit brought in to balance out the 'rushers'. Remaining new units are all only available in the Iron Age, so they're basically the extras to make the high-tech battles more interesting and diverse.
Two of the new researchable technologies also appear to be trying to encourage more use of infantry. Logistics offers the benefit of making all units from the Barracks count as only half towards your population limit, while the Tower Shield increases infantry armor against missile attacks. The other two technologies are priest upgrades - the priest being another unit usually overlooked in multi games for favor of the brute force approach at defeating your enemy. Martyrdom lets you sacrifice one priest's life with the result of an instant conversion, while amusingly, Medicine increases your priests' healing rate - so hey, you can make sure they're at their most peak condition to top themselves.
The new civilizations, again, are just adding some girth to the game - each new race, as with the original eight, have their own unique pattern of units available from the tech tree, and two or three 'special attributes' (eg. Transports go 30% faster or Siege units cost 50% less). They're also a great way for the writers of the documentation to load up Microsoft's Encarta Encyclopedia and fill the manual with a few pages of 'interesting' information about these ancient civilizations.
Aside from the first training campaign in the original game which got me used to the game's mechanics and gameplay, I wasn't too compelled to complete the single-player game. The storylines seemed rather dull and there are no cutscenes to speak of, but I suppose they might appeal in a sort of semi-educational way to some folks. The expansion adds four more of these campaigns with no particularly new features, just more pre-designed maps with specific objectives. I found the difficulty somewhat harder than the original campaigns but that's to be expected.
As with Age of Empires, the Rise of Rome offers some extremely well-supported multiplayer options both for LAN and Internet. Finding opponents shouldn't ever be a problem - besides the other multiplayer services that support the game, Microsoft's own free MSN Gaming Zone (which usually has 15,000+ players online at once) has never had under 1,000 people playing AOE and even with Rise of Rome being so new, there's still some 250+ gamers ready to clash metal with usually.
Once the expansion is installed, you're still given the option to either play the original game or the add-on, so if your friend doesn't own Rise of Rome, that doesn't mean you can't compete with him (you just can't use any of the upgrades that the expansion offers in your games with them). The also admirable '1 CD per 3 players' rule still applies (unbelievably, many games are still being released requiring every player to own a copy when playing multiplayer), and you can actually play Rise of Rome with the AOE CD in the CD-ROM and vice-versa.
The interface upgrades are certainly going to be cheered amongst multiplayer gamers as they relieve some (but definitely not all) of the micro-management duties that previously had to be endured. While the new features are not revolutionary, queued building is a great help and brings Age of Empires up a notch or two on the "competitive respectability" scale. Another must-have that was noticeably absent from the original was the ability to select all units of one type in an instant - especially handy when assigning groups - so it's good to see that included too.
So on the whole, we have an expansion pack that really is exactly what it claims to be - a way to expand the original release. New units, new upgrades, new graphics (the Roman tileset), new interface features and more. There's not an absurd amount of extras (a la TA: Core Contingency), but certainly enough to warrant the developers asking a small reward for the obvious effort they put into it. The price is right, being in the $20 (or £20 UKP) region, and according to Microsoft, the UK version ships with a £10 mail-in rebate in the box which makes the pack even better value.
This gets a hearty recommendation to all those AOE fans looking to resurrect their interest in this now year-old title, just don't expect any major changes (that's what sequels are for, I guess).
Review By GamesDomain
Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome is an addon for Age of Empires, you will need the original game to play.
Comments and reviews
Gjammer 2018-04-05 0 point
This one and Caesar III are my favorite strategy games. Pharaoh deserves honorable mention.
Cuban antigamer! 2018-03-05 -1 point
Yes, I'm not fond of games, but "Age of Empires" is an exception, it's the only game I've been playing since Windows 98!
SamGod 2017-10-11 -5 points
Any tips on how to run it on Windows 10 it keeps showing an error when i try to install the expansion!!
Lazy 2017-09-27 -1 point
Please remove my comment about corrupt image file.
The image file will NOT run with windows 10 integrated .iso file handler.
use Daemontoolslite instead.
parthy 2017-09-24 1 point
Heyy ! file extension is .img ... How can i open and install this game ?
Nighthawk 2017-09-02 1 point
Great speed of downloading.
Great job you did fellows.
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