Rise of Legends Review

We recently wrote an article about the best steampunk games to play on the PC. Following on from this, we are going to look at each game up close and give an in-depth review.

First up, here is our Rise of Legends review.

What is Rise of Legends?

Rise of Legends - The Vinci
Rise of Legends – The Vinci

Rise of Legends is a real-time strategy game released in 2006. The game was developed by Big Huge Games and published by Microsoft. It is a spin-off of the hugely popular 2003 game Rise of Nations, yet it differs in being based in a fantasy world as opposed to a historical one.

The game is set in the world of Aio, a planet where an alien ship had crash landed years ago, leaving 4 separate wreckage sites at different locations across the planet. The commences as the ruler of Vinci city, Lord Petruzzo, and other military units are sent to recover a mysterious object from a mine that is causing illness to its workers.

Their journey, however, turns into disaster as a murderous warlord, the Doge of Venucci, has already claimed the artefact and ambushes the benevolent investigators, leading to the death of Lord Petruzzo and many more. Petruzzo’s brother, Giacomo, then vows to avenge his sibling’s death by bringing an end to the Doge.

The game received almost universal critical acclaim upon its release, with gamers and critics praising its art, sound, and interface, among other things. Rise of Legends was also especially lauded for its steampunk aesthetic.

Rise of Legends – Story

Rise of Legends - Campaign Mode
Rise of Legends – Campaign Mode

After the scene is set and we learn of Giacomo’s mission to avenge his brother’s death, Giacomo takes an army to Venucci in order to pursue the Doge. Throughout the pursuit, we learn that the Doge has access to powerful unknown technology which, in time, he uses to demolish Giacomo’s hometown of Miana.

The main quest takes you on a journey all across the world of Aio, where you encounter different civilizations along the way. There are three unique races in the game – the Alin, the Cuotl, and the Vinci.

Rise of Legends – Races

Rise of Legends - The Cuotl
Rise of Legends – The Cuotl

The Vinci are a research driven civilization which give rise to the game’s steampunk aesthetic – their buildings and arms are heavily reliant on gunpowder, clockwork and steam engine power. The Vinci designs are influenced by Italian Renaissance artist and inventor, Leonardo Da Vinci, and their unique national power is the Industrial Devastation, which damages an area by causing drills and huge bore holes to rise from the ground.

The Alin civilization are magical people that use sand, fire and glass to form their empire. Their appearance and culture are based on Middle Eastern and Arabian mythologies, and they live in the Kalahese desert. The national power for the Alin is the Summon Army ability, which temporarily summons a powerful army to fight by your side.

The final civilization is the Cuotl. Inspired by the ancient Mayan, the Cuotl are a group of subjugated native humans that are headed by an Alien civilization. They take their name from the Aztec God Quetzalcoatl, and are a technology advanced civilization. The national power for the Cuotl is the Star Bolt, which consists of a damaging beam of light that devastates everything in its path.

Rise of Legends – Gameplay

Rise of Legends - Gameplay
Rise of Legends – Gameplay

The gameplay in Rise of Legends is very much like its parent game Rise of Nations. Players need to build and expand their cities by gathering resources and making improvements to buildings and technology.

Unlike most real-time strategy games, in Rise of Legends you don’t build and expand on a city centre. Instead, you are given a city centre from the outset and then must build districts within the city in order to expand your empire. The districts are different depending on your chosen civilization, and include industrial, military and merchant districts, among others.

There are different types of units available to deploy. You can have standard, master, and hero units. Master units are huge in comparison to the standard units and offer powerful and unique abilities. There are three unique Hero units for each race, and they are typically stronger than standard units. They are also upgradable and have a skill tree for upgrading and acquiring new abilities.

The Good

Rise of Legends - The Alin
Rise of Legends – The Alin
  • Gameplay
    The gameplay in Rise of Legends is brilliant if you are a fan of RTS games. The races are all unique and equally enjoyable to play as. Once you have mastered playing as the Vinci, you can try the Alin or the Cuotl for a completely different experience. It creates a replay value that some real-time strategies often lack.
  • Multiplayer
    Rise of Legends has a vibrant multiplayer community, and this is where the game’s longevity is solidified. Eventually, you can exhaust the different skill levels of the computer, but there’s always a different challenge when competing against other human players, be it 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, or 4v4.

The Bad

  • Graphics
    This really depends on your expectations when buying a 2006 game. In this Rise of Legends review, we enjoyed the graphics to a certain extent and think they still hold up okay for an RTS. Yet, a lot of gamers feel that the graphics are now completely outdated and a bit too blocky for modern gameplay.
  • City-building
    This is a matter for personal preference. Some people like the expansion of the city centre format. Others prefer the more traditional RTS idea of building from scratch and commanding your way to victory.

Games like Rise of Legends


Aside from the obvious Rise of Nations, there are plenty of games that are similar to Rise of Legends. The following are some more games like Rise of Legends that you might enjoy:

  • Immortal Cities: Children of the Nile
  • Age of Wonders II: The Wizard’s Throne
  • Caesar IV
  • Empire Earth

Get in Touch

Rise of Legends Review
Rise of Legends Review

If you enjoyed reading this Rise of Nations review and are a fan of steampunk games, you might also want to read our list of the best cyberpunk games to play.

Have you played Rise of Legends? What did you think? Let us know in the comments section and join our Blog of Games video game blog community. If you have any questions, please get in touch below or contact me at richard@blogofgames.com

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