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Video Game / Rise of Legends

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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 an inventor named Giacomo. On his way to recover a mysterious artifact for study, his brother Petruzzo is killed by the Doge, an archetypal Evil Overlord who wants the technology for himself. Giacomo begins a quest for vengeance against the Doge and finally has his revenge, though not before getting caught up in a struggle with mysterious creatures made of glass, which ends when Giacomo and his allies find their leader, a corrupted genie, and bring him back to the side of good. At this juncture it turns out that the Doge was merely a pawn of more powerful and terrifying entities, whose technology was also responsible for the corruption of said genie. Giacomo thus sets out to defeat them in turn, but things go decidedly bad for him in the process.

Gameplay-wise, Legends isn't expecially similar to Rise of Nations despite using its name as a prefix: Nations imported a lot of ideas from the 4X genre, a lot of which Legends discarded in favour of fast-paced RTS combat and resource competition, taking a lot of its ideas from StarCraft. Gone are the non-military win conditions, the emphasis on research, the proliferation of resources and the large roster of playable nations. Legends isn't a terribly ambitious product, but it's still very fun to play and has more strategy than many give it credit for. 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 player has a choice of three different factions, each one a custom counterpart of the three races from StarCraft:

  • The Vinci: Similar to the Terran race. Combining the culture of Renaissance Italy with a Steampunk aesthetic, the Vinci are technology purists who start their matches with footsoldiers supported by clockwork robots and finish with massive machines of war, ranging from large tanks to a giant spider-like robot called a Land Leviathan. Through the accumulation of prototype units and/or general purpose unit upgrades they can bolster their standing army while building Research Labs which upgrade to custom utility buildings which get very useful in the late game.
  • The Alin: Similar to the Zerg race. An "Arabian Nights" Days-style civiliation with copious amounts of mythological creatures added to the mix, the Alin are a mystical people with power over sand, fire and glass. Their strength lies in their mastery of Summon Magic, which allows them to dominate the early game of any match by spamming cheap footmen and mounted units and overwhelm their rivals through a mixture of raw power, dirty tactics and sheer numbers.
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  • The Cuotl: Similar to the Protoss race. What you'd get if you crossed Mayincatec with Religion Is Magic, the Cuotl are jungle tribesmen empowered by Ancient Astronauts/Sufficiently Advanced Aliens à la Chariot of the Gods. The Cuotl "Gods" boast mysterious stone-based technology so advanced that they easily convinced their followers it was magic, though the power of the Cuotl people's worship and faith apparently bolsters the power of said technology. This technology includes jaguars with sun-like beam attacks, snakes which poison their victims with every attack and eagle-like flying machines.

Tropes found in the game include:

  • A Commander Is You: As is only natural for an RTS. Specifically:
    • The Vinci are Balanced Brutes with a side of Generalist: their units tend to be straightforward, with their base unit the Musketeers gaining the ability to fight decently against most things with upgrades. Their prototypes also give them aspects of Economist, with Clockwork Miners offering an extremely powerful economy.
    • The Alin are Guerilla Spammers, with weaker units than the Vinci generally speaking but the ability to rapidly produce them. Their production structures can be built in enemy territory and upgrading their national power causes those structures to be built with free units, allowing the Alin to quickly Zerg Rush an unprepared enemy in unexpected ways.
    • The Cuotl are primarily Elitist, with aspects of Gimmick and Technical. Their units are expensive but strong, with every single Cuotl unit possessing the ability to spend Energy to either gain a shield or cloak, rewarding good micro. This is furthered by the ability of the Holy Ark to empower mines to increase income or production structures to increase production speed. Their Energy mechanic heavily differentiates them from the Vinci and Alin but provides several benefits, notably a lack of caravans to be raided.
  • Action Bomb: Demolition Clockwork Men.
  • 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.
  • Animal Motifs: The Cuotl "gods" and the units built after them use this trope in their design. Czin, Xil, and Shok respectively take after the snake, the jaguar and the eagle. The fourth Cuotl god, Ix, is designed either after a wolf or a jackal.
  • "Arabian Nights" Days: The Alin are based on this trope. Their floating cities are located in a vast desert, and their lands are full of magical creatures made up of fire and glass. There are, of course, genies. Interestingly, the Alin are on the verge of being overrun by the so-called Dark Alin, creatures born of magic fueled by an alien artifact. The intro film shows Alin forces besieging a Vinci city in a clear case of Magic Versus Technology. This never happens in the game, however. The other Fantasy Counterpart Cultures in the game are the Vinci (Renaissance-era Italy fueled by Leonardo's Steampunk and Clock Punk inventions) and the Cuotl (a Mayincatec culture using technology given by their Sufficiently Advanced Alien masters).
    • While the Alin-Vinci battle never happens in the game, the ending heavily implies that, with the Alin no longer under threat, they are looking West towards the Vinci city-states to expand their territory.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Unlike Rise of Nations, where the unit cap was based on your level of Military research, this one bases it on the number of Cities and Military Districts you have.
  • Are These Wires Important?: Giacomo, during the climax of Act 2, rips out the wires in the Doge's laser, causing it to blow up in the latter's face the next time he tries to fire.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The Land Leviathan, true to its name, is one Humongous Mecha.
  • Badass Boast: Courtesy of Carlini:
    Carlini: 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.
  • Badass Bookworm: Giacomo.
  • Badass Normal: Both Carlini and the Vinci commander from the opening cinematic. This is technically true for all things Vinci, since it's them and their technology against the world.
  • Bald of Evil: The Doge, tyrant of Venucci and the main human villain of the game, is mostly bald with prominent hair around the back of his head.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Arri, Alin princess, shows off a large portion of her belly in an otherwise practical desert outfit.
  • 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 a fair 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, depending on what faction and their heroes the player wishes to still have access to. After Giacomo's Heroic Sacrifice, Arri and Lenora appear to have become friends as well.
  • Big Bad: At first, the Doge; later on, Sawu the corrupted Alin genie; finally, Czin the Cuotl "God" of Death.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Giacomo defeats Czin and destroys his transmitter, saving Aio from being invaded by the Cuotl gods' species. However, this comes at the cost of his life, as he had to use his power to destroy it from the inside. Giacomo did succeed in bringing peace to Aio once more, with his people the Vinci united by Lenora, the Alin prospering once more and the Cuotl finally being free to choose their own fate.
  • Boom Stick: The Cuotl foot soldiers, as Expies of Stargate Jaffas, have staves that shoot lasers.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Invoked. If you can get your economy put together right, you can totally out-expand and out-army your opponents by means of commerce alone.
  • Captain Ersatz: The three races are similar to the StarCraft races, down to the Cuotl using protective shields for their units and buildings.
  • 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 can't build the Doom Cannon from a lab. Meanwhile, the Doge can't build Clockwork Men, but does get to use his Doge Guard units instead of normal Musketeers. The Cuotl campaign is the main exception, as the only units you can't use eventually are their heroes, who are the antagonists. This decision probably hinges on the fact that cities founded by one faction can only use the aesthetics and unique districts of that faction, which is a problem for other races if they take that city away later. By ensuring that your enemy is of the same race, you also keep the benefits of having the same kind of cities.
  • Clarke's Third Law: The Cuotl Gods, along with Magic from Technology.
  • Cool Old Guy: Carlini.
  • Combat Pragmatist: The commander from opening cinematic has few instances of it. Most notably, when being too close to shoot cannon from his mecha, he still uses the gun-arm as a mace to crush a giant scorpion advancing toward him... and instantly draws his own pistol to shot the surprised rider of said scorpion.
  • Constructed World: Aio is a wholly fictional world, in which humans co-exist
  • The Corruption: Dark Glass is a corrupt form of Alin Glass magic .
  • Crystalline Creature: Many Alin units, and all Dark Glass ones, are made of crystal. The ultimate Alin unit is the Glass Dragon, and in skirmishes it is possible to summon a Giant Spider too as Sawu's ultimate ability.
  • Death from Above: The "Star Bolt" power. Kill Sat GOOD...
  • Decoy Protagonist: The Vinci Hero featured in the intro and presented as the Vinci poster boy on the back of the game's box appears nowhere else in the game save for a few loading screens. possibly false; it is said that the Zeke bot contains his soul
  • Defector from Decadence: Pulitore, whom 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 in Venucci's best interests, he and his men had enough and quit. His recruitment mission is the only time in the campaign where you can use the Doge's unique units.
  • Discard and Draw: A recurring theme in the campaign.
    • The Vinci campaign sees you build up a strong empire of steel and steam, technology that proves effective against the Doge to the point that you eventually take Venucci. But in the Alin campaign, these same units become ineffective as Vinci soldiers are unused to the oppressive heat and their clockwork technology is easily damaged by the sand, which forces you to start using the Alin's magic units (who are also well-adapted to the environment) instead.
    • The Cuotl campaign opens with Giacamo fighting Ix, the jackal-themed Moon God of the Cuotl pantheon, and getting blasted by a Cuotl energy beam that damages his walker and gives him a face-full of glass. In the aftermath, he gains all-new powers and repairs his walker by merging it with the now-destroyed Ix's body, discarding his old Vinci powers to use new Cuotl powers.
    • During the Vinci campaign, Giacamo can recruit numerous Vinci heroes who don't appear in quick battles. In the Alin campaign, Lenora leaves to rally forces back in Vinci lands, leaving you to keep the others and recruit new Alin heroes during the Alin campaign. Due to a plot point after the initial Cuotl mission, Giacamo can only bring half of his forces from the previous two campaigns, either Vinci or Alin, with him into Cuotl lands, meaning you have to abandon one group to take the other.
  • Drill Tank: The Vinci's area of effect power calls a swarm of these to attack buildings and ground units. Their mega-unit Spider Tank can also tunnel to anywhere on the map.
  • Dueling Games: Although late to the punch by four years, Rise of Legends is regarded by some as BHG's attempt to one-up Ensemble Studios' Age of Mythology, as both games are fantasy spin-offs of their own popular historic real-time strategy titles.
  • Easy Logistics: Downplayed. They abstract the cost of not having logistics by your units taking steady damage on enemy territory, unless you have a supply unit with you (Cargo Dirigibles, Puzzle Boxes, and Holy Arks).
  • Evil Old Folks: The Doge is much older than The Hero Giacamo and characterised as a proud, brutal, warmongering tyrant.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Unit names can tend to work like this, especially for the Vinci, but the best example is probably the Doge's Doom Cannon.
  • 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.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Vinci are obviously late medieval/early Renaissance Italian city states with a heavy steampunk and clockpunk flavour (based on Leonardo da Vinci's sketches), the Alin are based on the Arabian Nights mythology, and the Cuotl are basically "Mayincatec meets Ancient Astronauts".
  • Flying Seafood Special: Manta rays that live in the desert. They serve as mounts for Heartseekers, an earlygame Alin unit summoned at the Circle of Sand.
  • Four-Star Badass: The Doge is known as a capable general and strategist, and despite his bad publicity is considered one of the best military minds among the Vinci in his time, which is undoubtably why everyone has put up with him for so long.
  • Friendly Sniper: Carlini is a great sharpshooter and probably the most friendly and easy-going guy in the entire cast.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Giacomo is severely injured during his fight with Ix, after trying and failing to activate the siege laser on foot, which burns his flesh and transforms some of it into glass. although he's left permanently disfigured, he manages to survive and obtains the ability to turn things into Dark Glass with his right hand.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: The Doge's Elite Guard units all wear gas masks to distinguish them from regular Vinci ground forces.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: Most of the villains don't really get any characterisation besides being evil. The Doge is the worst offender just for being the most prominent villain in the game but almost never talking with Giacamo directly and mostly gloating about how evil he is.
  • Golem: Glass Golems. Possibly also Sun Idols, though they could also qualify as a Humongous Mecha depending on whether or not they need a pilot. Sun Cannons as well.
  • Glass Weapon: There is a magic cannon made of glass which is actually called the Glass Cannon. But despite the name, it's not much use against anything but buildings and it's rather sturdy for an artillery piece.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Cuotl "gods" for the first two campaigns, since the Doge is their pawn and their artifacts are the cause of the primary conflicts in each (the Doge killed Giacomo's brother to seize one of them, thus setting Giacomo on a path of vengeance, and the other was responsible for corrupting the Alin Hero Sawu). Beyond them, see The Man Behind the Man below for more, their intergalactic masters, who are still out there and may be happy to drop in for an invasion of their own.
  • Guide Dang It!: At certain point of the campaign, Giacomo skillset will be changed, forcing to rank skills again. And Carlini is Killed Off for Real. So good luck with all the points you've spend on both of them in first two parts of the campaign.
  • Hero Unit: Rise of Legends is rather unusual in that skirmish and multi-player games did not allow you to use all the heroes available for a faction. Instead each faction gets a Big Guy hero, a Flying Firepower female hero and a Jack-of-All-Trades hero. If you play the single-player campaign you get access to extra heroes like Distruzio and General Carlini. On the other hand, single-player campaign mode meant that you didn't get the faction's super unit (so no Glass Dragon in your army).
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Giacomo destroys an alien ship with him left inside.
    • Carlini sacrifices himself to protect Giacomo from Czin, distracting him long enough for him to hide.
    • The opening video ends with a lone soldier on the bridge overloading the damaged arm of his mech, blowing up the bridge he was standing on and the enemy units on it with him in order to deny them entry to his city.
  • Humongous Mecha: Giacomo and the Doge ride these. As the campaign goes on, Giacomo upgrades his with his inventions and with Cuotl tech, culminating in combining his mech with Ix's corpse, allowing him to fight the other Cuotl gods head-on.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Alin love this trope, since about a third of their units are fire-spewing creatures.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: The Vinci meanwhile follow this trope, a majority of their units utilizing firearms or artillery.
  • Land of One City: The various Vinci city states. Some cities, however, like Miana, have vassals, such as Miana also having control over Padonia and Vernazza, the sites of your first two Vinci missions.
  • The Magic Versus Technology War: Vinci Steampunk versus Alin magic versus the Cuotl's bizarre Chariot of the Gods-inspired Magic from Technology.
  • The Man Behind the Man: According to this image labelled "the Cuotl's secret alien masters" it is possible that the False Gods are merely the minions of another alien race which may or may not be conspiring to invade Aio.
  • Maximum HP Reduction: Dark Glass Corruption, inflicted by Dark Walkers. The only really reliable way to remove it is Giacomo's Augmentation line of abilities.
  • Mayincatec: The Cuotl.
  • Mighty Whitey: Giacomo, to a certain extent. It's always a different race in each campaign, with their own leaders presented as competent and powerful, but Giacomo remains in charge throughout.
  • Multicultural Alien Planet: The three factions that inhabit Aio are very different from each other.
  • Neutrals, Critters, and Creeps: The game has partially-random multiplayer/skirmish maps with neutral structures guarded by their inhabitants. For example, a tavern guarded by Condotierri mercs, an abandoned forge tended by Scrappers, or a cave guarded by a huge bat. The exact location and availability varies each time one plays. Of course, they appear on campaign maps too. These can be acquired into a players army through trade (they generate Wealth each time a trade caravan gets there and back, and apparently accrue debt as their purchase price drops by a fraction each time until you get them free), Neutral guards and all. This can happen with whole cities as well. However, the Cuotl uses a different system, where they drop a bomb on the neutral structure and own the ruins, and what's left of the creep guards.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Averted to devastating 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.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The Alin ones come in Sand, Fire, and Glass varieties. The Glass Dragon functions as their master unit.
  • 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.
  • Punny Name: The name of the Cuotl Goddess of Storms, who uses lightning bolts as her primary weapon, is Shok.
  • 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.
  • "Risk"-Style Map
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Perhaps the Doge shouldn't have killed Giacomo's brother, Petruzzo...
  • Rule of Cool: A lot of the units are either improbable to exist or outright impossible. But they're all cool, which makes it forgivable.
  • Scary Amoral Religion: The Cuotl, inasmuch as they don't seem to see their gods as evil and revel in it.
  • Scary Scorpions: The Alin have a big version used as a mount.
  • Silicon-Based Life: The Alin field several units made of living glass, though it's not certain how many of them are alive rather than magically animated.
    • They all seem like golems though, and one Vinci sidequest includes helping a Glass Golem find its master in the Doge's prison.
  • Sky Pirate: The Pirata, obviously. However, since they are mercenaries who wind up working for Giacomo, they end up more like The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything via Offscreen Villainy.
  • Spider Tank: Clockwork Spiders, and Land Leviathans are a larger version.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Rise of Nations, as stated earlier.
  • Steampunk: The Vinci are this, along with Clock Punk.
  • 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 temporary Cease-Fire among all factions.
    • The Vinci Nullifier, which casts a map-wide Anti-Magic shockwave that persits for 15 seconds.
  • Tactical Superweapon Unit:
    • The Vinci have the Land Leviathan, a tunnelling spider-crab tank with several machine guns and a MLAS mounted on it. It also has an Arm Cannon that launches missiles, and the grinders on its arms.
    • The Alin have the Great Glass Dragon, which flies around spitting clouds of broken glass at enemies. It can also focus sunlight through its body to shoot a huge laser beam at enemies.
    • The Cuotl have the City of Destruction, an Awesome Personnel Carrier with several weapons, including a city-destroying laser and a Gravity-Wave Generator to deal with hordes.
  • Tank Goodness: The Vinci Juggernaut is a steampunk tank with two cannons.
  • Technology Levels: Four, down from eight in Rise of Nations.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill
  • This Is a Drill: The Industrial Devastation power. The Vinci Land Leviathan also uses drills as armaments.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Lenora and Arri.
  • 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.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: You need to get Imperial Musketeers to level 3 for them to melee.
    • 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.
  • Young Conqueror: By the end of the campaign, Giacamo has likely personally conquered most Vinci city states and made strong diplomatic ties with the Alin and the Cuotl. Shame he dies, likely leaving his legacy the same as that of Alexander the Great.
  • You Killed My Father: Giacomo's grievance with the Doge is the death of his brother, Petruzzo. After the Doge's death, he goes after the Cuotl "Gods" who were manipulating the old bastard.
  • 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.)
  • You Shall Not Pass!: The soldier on the bridge from opening video was quite determined with stopping the invasion, regardless of anything.