Rise and Fall: Civilisations at War (Web Version)

My Hoplites are still hopelessly lost in the hills

Game Review by Craig Wilson | 15 Jul 2006
I'm leading an army of Hoplites through the hills. Meanwhile, my villagers are felling trees for wood, and my city is protected by my mighty towers. I'm playing 'Age of Empires', the first PC game I ever owned. Today I'm playing 'Rise and Fall', it's shiny, three dimensional, and has big boats. The unfortunate thing is that my Hoplites are still hopelessly lost in the hills, my villagers are still mauling the local fauna, and my village still lies securely behind a few towers.

Put simply, for all its innovations, 'Rise and Fall' is still trapped by the same clichés that are killing the RTS genre. Troops still charge aimlessly at each other before engaging in bland combat. Cavalry still stop before the enemy and neatly start hacking from horseback and archers still have no fear of those giant bloody elephants about trample them into their sandals. Game play is still a matter of building barracks to build troops to thus click at the enemy with. 'Rise and Fall' does add one unique element, a 'Hero Mode' where you are able to take control of your hero characters from a third person perspective turning the game from RTS to hack n' slash. The main problem with this element is that it becomes a boring irritation after a few minutes. Something made worse by the fact that the developers feel proud enough of this feature to actually make missions in the campaign revolve around it. Additionally, the graphics, which look nice in the standard RTS view, become blocky and flat in third person. The heroes themselves are also nowhere near as deep or interesting as those in 'Warcraft', and the storyline's hammy dialogue is so clichéd and boring that it almost induces depression. The music also seems like it desperately wants to be 'Gladiator' but sounds more like it's been taken from an episode of Standard Grade Bitesize History.

Technically this is a solid RTS and if you love the genre then there is enjoyment to be had. Yet, when the boredom factor sets in after only a couple of hours it's hard to care. Credit must certainly go to the developers for trying something new, it's just a damn shame they didn't put more effort behind it. Still… at least the boats are nice and big. [Craig Wilson]
Stainless Steel Studios
Out now for PC.