“ Manufacturer: Microsoft / Genre: Strategy / ESRB Rating: T - (Teen) / ESRB Descriptor: Violence / ESRB Descriptor: Blood and Gore / Platform: Windows / Distribution Media: CD-ROM „
Thrones and Patriots is the official add-on pack to the excellent real time strategy game Rise of Nations, a game which, like its spiritual predecessor Age of Empires sees you progressing a civilization through numerous technological ages, whilst building up your cities and armies and striving to conquer your opponents, but unlike the age of empires games Rise of Nations spans the whole of human history, from prehistory through classical antiquity, medieval times, the enlightenment age, the industrial age, the modern age and finally the worryingly apocalyptic near-future.
So what does Thrones and Patriots add to the mix? Well, one new feature is the inclusion of different types of government, with the game allowing you to take a route either to the left or the right, choosing between monarchy and democracy, socialism and capitalism. Which route you take affects your resources and production, eg the right hand route gives you cheaper, more fastly produced troops whilst the left route affords you greater resources and so on. You also get a different Leader Unit depending on which choice you make, with this unit acting as a souped up General, affecting the performance of your troops on the battlefield when in the vicinity. It's a nice idea, and works well, although it feels a little half-heartedly implemented in truth and could have been executed in a more in-depth manner. Still, it does add to the game, as do the new single player campaigns (Alexander the Great, The Cold War, The New World, The Entire World, Napoleon) and the new civilisations available, amongst them the Americans, and various tribes of Native Americans.
The native Americans have a whole new architecture set, but whilst their buildings look nice enough, the mechanics of the game have required that historical accuracy be bent considerably, with the native Americans having lots of buildings and fortresses that they simply didn't have in reality here, just as the central American civilizations of the original game have cavalry units that in reality did not exist either. The North American civilization suffers similarly in this regard, consisting as it does of a relatively fledgeling civilisation comprised primarily of immigrant peoples; the game has you founding cities of the like of Washington, New York and Boston back in the age of classical antiquity, which probably won't help to improve American understanding of world history, but in fairness there is really no other way that the game developers could have implemented things, and in any case its not as if it affects gameplay.
In spite of these middling criticisms however, with new units and technologies and new visuals, Thrones and Patriots certainly adds to the Rise of Nations experience considerably, helping to breathe further life into a game that already has immense amounts of longevity. You can pick it up bundled with the RoN GOLD edition of the game if you don't already have the original.