The newest addition to the RTS (real-time strategy) genre is the anticipated sequel Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends. Spreading itself across four discs and demanding 4.5GB of hard disk space, fans of the series will find plenty to sink their teeth into. But if you're new to the series, or to RTS, getting acquainted with the game will take a while.

Thankfully, provision has been made to try and ease the learning curve, including a gentle start to the main campaign, and plenty of tool tips and reminders. But even with this additional guidance things can easily descend into chaos as you battle with the interface in the midst of battles.

The main development is in the game world. Gone are the historical settings, ditched in favour of a sci-fi/fantasy world where lumbering steam powered robots and gyrocopters fight alongside foot soldiers.

But that's just the start - the early levels do little to prepare you for the additions of dragons and men straddling giant scorpions. There's no two ways about it, Legends' concept art and graphics are wonderful.

Utilising a nifty game engine, Legends looks glorious on a high-end PC, although the frame rate can take a tumble when there's lots going on. For those with less exotic hardware, the good news is that Legends is scalable. Unfortunately, to get access to all of the eye candy you're going to need a reasonable 256Mb graphics card.

Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends: Specs

  • 1.4GHz Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon processor (2.5GHz is better)
  • Windows XP
  • 4.5GB hard disk space
  • 64MB video card with T&L (transform and lighting)
  • 1.4GHz Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon processor (2.5GHz is better)
  • Windows XP
  • 4.5GB hard disk space
  • 64MB video card with T&L (transform and lighting)

OUR VERDICT

Legends is a good RTS, but we're not convinced it makes a major leap forward. Loyal fans will love it, but newcomers may find it too much like hard work. This is a shame because the game play is immensely satisfying.

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