Rise of Legends is a Spiritual Successor to Rise of Nations created in 2006 by Big Huge Games, creators of the previous game. Instead of being set on Earth, it is set on the world of Aio, a world of technology and magic.The campaign follows the adventures of a Vinci inventor named Giacomo. His primary opponent is the Doge of Venucci, a typical Evil Overlord type who embarks on a campaign of conquest over Vinci lands, and then unlocks a Sealed Evil in a Can over in Alin territory in the form of "Dark Glass" creatures. However, he's revealed to be merely a pawn in the schemes of the Evil False Gods of the Cuotl. Giacomo leads the campaign against all three forces.Gameplay-wise, the situation is actually not very similar to Rise of Nations despite being by the same developers: Nations imported a lot of ideas from the 4X genre, which Legends discarded in an effort to be more like StarCraft. Gone are the non-military win conditions, the emphasis on research, the proliferation of resources and the large roster of playable nations. What's left is an unambitious but very polished RTS that's lots of fun to play, and is still more strategic than most games in the genre. For instance, ships plying the enemy's trade routes can be shot down, slowing down their economy; cities are not founded but captured, either from other players or from neutral creeps; there are non-city "outpost" locations which you can gain control of and give you gameplay bonuses (in the form of resources or access to new units); and said neutral locations can be purchased as well as conquered, at which point its neutral creeps join your army.The game won several awards in the "Cool But Overlooked" category. And for a while, all was silent in Big Huge land...at least until the release of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Which killed them.
Tropes found in the game include:
Action Bomb: Demolition Clockwork Men, the dude in the opening cutscene.
All Theories Are True: Helicopters follow Leonardo Da Vinci's "aerial screw" drawings, long since proven aerodynamically impossible.
All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Well, except that the Doge has no intention of actually HOLDING Miana. Once you defeat him and his Doom Cannon, he uses a second one to burn your city to the ground as he runs away.
"I've been a soldier for 43 years, got my leg blown off, served in two wars, killed more men than I can count, and I've never backed down from anything in my life. I'm sure as hell not gonna start now."
Betty and Veronica: Arri, the Alin princess and Giacomo's childhood friend (Betty), and Lenora, the rebellious leader of the Pirata (Veronica). While the game does not really follow through with a Romance Sidequest, a few briefing screens show Giacomo and the significant other of the campaign in more romantic poses and there is definitely an amount of jealousy between the two women. In fact, during the final campaign, Giacomo is allowed to only take one of them with him to the Cuotl lands. After Giacomo's Heroic Sacrifice, Arri and Lenora appear to have become friends as well.
Big Bad: First the Doge, then Czin, the Cuotl god of death.
Civil Warcraft: More than usual for a real-time strategy. In all three campaigns the primary enemy faction uses technology from the same race as the player, with the other two appearing in only a few levels each. That said, your opponents usually use a few things you can't and vice versa. For example, the Doge's units are unavailable in the campaign excluding Pulitore's recruitment and you cannot build the Doom Cannon from a lab. Meanwhile, the Doge cannot build Clockwork Men and has to use his Doge Guard units instead of normal Musketeers. The Cuotl campaign is the main exception, where the only units of theirs you cannot build are their heroes (who are the antagonists).
Fridge Brilliance: When you play non-Civil Warcraft skirmishes it quickly becomes apparent why this is the case: If you play the Vinci and take an Alin city, their Magus districts are more or less useless to you and you can't build Industrial districts, thus denying you the ability to expand on your faction's unique abilities (or in the reverse case, prevents them from getting more research). Constant Civil Warcraft means this issue never shows up in the campaign.
Defector from Decadence: Pulitore, who you recruit in the Alin campaign, was once one of the Doge's men. After the destruction of Miana and as it became clear the Doge wasn't acting for Venucci's best interests, he and his men had enough and quit. This is also the only time in the campaign where you can use the Doge's arsenal.
Faction Calculus: Vinci (powerhouse), Alin (subversive), and Cuotl (balanced). That being said, the units themselves are largely the same in their basest forms, each faction's traits only manifesting after research and through their heroes and unique abilities.
They also match up thematically: Terran/Vinci use technology, Zerg/Alin use bio/magic, and Protoss/Cuotl use a mixture of the two. Plus the Protoss/Cuotl apparently being more technologically advanced than the others.
No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Averted to devestating effect by the Doge in the campaign. While you took out his capital and Cannon of Doom, turns out he took a second one and leveled your home city with it before running away to the desert.
Phlebotinum Rebel: At the start of the Cuotl campaign Giacomo is hit by the blast from a Cuotl cannon, and thus develops superpowers. He then takes parts from Ix, the dead Moon God, and uses those to upgrade his walker.
Rebellious Princess: Arri accompanies Giacomo despite her lord forbdding it, citing the need for her to remain and help protect the city.
Reinventing the Wheel: Surprisingly averted in single-player, as upgrades for units are done on the campaign map, and are kept through the campaign.
But played straight with the in-mission "research" bonuses and the Vinci prototype upgrades. Most of the research bonuses can be justified as being local infrastructure improvements, but at least some of the prototype upgrades should be things that can be brought along to new levels instead of having to figure out how to make them all over again.
Rule of Cool: Around 80% of the units are incredibly cool one way or another. Let's see :
The Vinci are, as their name indicate, Steam Punk Italian City States with ROBOTS and Da Vinci-inspired flying machines! Their Super Unit is a giant Spider Tank with guns and missiles and giant drills which can be used to move all around the map by burrowing.
The Alin are Arabian Nights plus other arab mythology crammed into a faction . Three different dragons, including a very large one who visibly breathes glass, plenty of fire units, golems, Flying Seafood Special, Scary Scorpions, and the Rukh, which is (unlike in the myths) some sort of dragon made of lava, which is already pretty cool, but it explodes on other units as it's only attack, and then after reappears out of thin air!
The Cuotl are Mayaincatec with Religion is Magic and Magitek. Their air units are basically magic levitating planes made out of rock which shoot lasers, the Sun Jaguar which is a golem in the shape of a jaguar which shoots lasers out of his eyes the Sun Idol which is a Humongous Mecha with an equally humongous laser beam, the Deathsphere which is basically a giant lightning-shooting black hole. Think that isn't cool enough ? Their super unit, the City of Vengeance, puts the latter Death Sphere to shame.
Support Power: each nation has one. The Vinci get an Area-Of-Attack big honking drill; the Alin can spawn a short-lived army; and the Cuotl get a burning area of effect which, oddly, you can see in and move around.
The Cuotl's power probably represents control of some kind of orbital Kill Sat, though it's never made explicit.
There are also four "dominances" that each player can vie for control of by fulfilling certain conditions, and which only one player may use at a given time. One steals enemy units, one spawns temporary mercenary allies, one heals friendly troops in a small area, and one forces a temoporary Cease-Fire among all factions.
The Vinci Nullifier, which casts a map-wide Anti-Magic shockwave that persits for 15 seconds.
Tank Goodness: The Vinci Juggernaut is a steampunk tank with two cannons.
Two-Faced: Giacomo after being hit with mysterious energy.
Vestigial Empire: The Condottieri were originally the ruling power in Vinci lands, but failed to keep up with technological advancements that led to increasing power to individual cities such as Miana or Venucci. A civil war later, all that remains of the Condottieri is a castle, a few squabbling noble families and a scattered army of mercenaries.
Wave Motion Gun: The Cuotl have this in spades. The Eye of the Gods, the Sun Cannon...
We Are Struggling Together: The Vinci and Alin don't exactly get along too well. There's also the fact that the Vinci are clearly based on Renaissance Italian city-states united only by culture and mutual interest. The ending implies that they slide back into infighting even with the Doge gone.
This case is somewhat Justified, since before the invention of the bayonet, armies required Pikemen to protect their muskets, which in melee combat are basically clubs.
Alin Desert Walkers need research before they can throw their swords at enemies for a ranged attack. Though judging by the research's icon (a crossbow) and name ("Glass Bolts") it's probable they were originally intended to pull out a crossbow for this purpose instead.
You Require More Vespene Gas: "Timonium" as Gold, and two different Lumber resources depending on who you're playing as: the Vinci and Alin have "Wealth", whereas the Cuotl have "Energy". The game also maintains Rise of Legends' "Power" resource by imposing Caps on how fast you can harvest. (And Population, of course.)