A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a war game, so violence and gore aren't out of context, but the sci-fi theme -- strange lands, creatures, and vehicles -- helps to water down the graphic scenery. While most of the time players control units on the battlefield from a top-down view, making fighting look almost cartoon-like, be aware that you can zoom in to get a closer and more graphic look at the action. The cut scene sequences are also graphic.
What's it about?
RISE OF NATIONS: RISE OF LEGENDS is a cinematic war game that pits magic-wielding creatures against fierce machines. In this sequel to Rise of Nations, the main campaign mode takes place in the perilous world of Aio. You play as one of three races: the magic-savvy Alin sorcerers (inspired by the stories from "The Arabian Nights"), the technical Vinci civilization (who rely on wild inventions based on Leonardo da Vinci's sketches), and shipwrecked aliens known as the Cuotl.
At the start of the solo campaign, which could take 20 hours to complete, you play as Giacomo, a young Vinci inventor who witnesses his older brother's murder during an ambush plotted by the Alin ruler. While avenging his death, Giacomo finds there is a much darker threat on the planet: the Cuotl. Before you know it, you'll be amassing and maneuvering armies on huge battlegrounds -- with wonderfully strange units, such as enormous spider-like robots or fiery dragons.
Is it any good?
em>Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends proves to be a gratifying real-time strategy title that fuses military micromanagement with fantastic science fiction. The story, told mainly from cut scene sequences, is over the top -- in both its premise and its dialogue -- but nicely sets up the rivalries between the races. If the lengthy story-based mode isn't for you, Rise of Legends also offers a Quick Battle option so you can jump right into the action by selecting a race and map. You can play a quick game in only 20 minutes, which is hard to do with deep strategy games.
You can also log online from within the game's built-in multiplayer lobby to find other players, or choose to host a game. A free editor is included so you can build and share custom-made worlds. You can try before you buy by downloading a free 724-megabyte demo of the game at RiseofLegends.com.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how real war compares with the battles in this game. With young teens, parents may want to reinforce that this is a fictitious world with fictitious characters and weapons. It's fun to control an army as a "desktop general," and it can be good for players as it forces them to use strategy and tactics to win the war. But it's just a game.
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