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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 a Vinci inventor named Giacomo. His primary opponent is the Doge of Venucci, a typical Evil Overlord type who embarks on a campaign of conquest over Vinci lands, and then unlocks a Sealed Evil in a Can over in Alin territory in the form of "Dark Glass" creatures. However, he's revealed to be merely a pawn in the schemes of the Evil False Gods of the Cuotl. Giacomo leads the campaign against all three forces.
Gameplay-wise, the situation is actually not very similar to Rise of Nations despite being by the same developers: Nations imported a lot of ideas from the 4X genre, which Legends discarded in an effort to be more like Starcraft. Gone are the non-military win conditions, the emphasis on research, the proliferation of resources and the large roster of playable nations. What's left is an unambitious but very polished RTS that's lots of fun to play, and is still more strategic than most games in the genre. 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.
Tropes found in the game include:
- Action Bomb: Demolition Clockwork Men, the dude in the opening cutscene.
- Who looks suspiciously like Giacomo.
- A Father to His Men: Commander from opening. He stayed on the field only to allow rest of soldiers withdraw. Not that it ended well for him.
- 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.
- 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.
- Badass Automaton: Quite a few, in both Clock Punk and Ancient Astronaut flavors. Robotic, laser-shooting jaguars? Check. Do-Anything Robot that turns into a helicopter, standard combat machine, or a giant buzzsaw to rip open buildings? Check.
- Badass Boast: Quote 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 mecha operator from opening.
- Bald of Awesome: Carlini.
- 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, there is definitely an 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. After Giacomo's Heroic Sacrifice, Arri and Lenora appear to have become friends as well.
- Big Bad: First the Doge, then Czin, the Cuotl god of death.
- Boom Stick: The Cuotl foot soldiers, as Expies of Stargate Jaffa's in Rise of Legends 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: As noted in the entry for Follow the Leader, the three races are similar to the Starcraft races, down to the Cuotl units building with shields.
- ~Chekhov's Gun~: Well, Giacomo's watch has to be important, right?
- 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.
- ~Clarke's Third Law~: The Cuotl's False Gods, along with Magic From Technology.
- Cool Old Guy: Carlini.
- The Corruption: Dark Glass.
- Death From Above: The "Star Bolt" power. Kill Sat GOOD...
- Easy Logistics: As in Rise of Nations, somewhat averted, unless the player brings Cargo Dirigibles/Puzzle Boxes/Holy Arks along.
- 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 Clock Punk 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.
- Follow the Leader: the three races in Rise Of Legends correspond fairly well to Terran, Zerg and Protoss, gameplay wise.
- They also match up thematically: Terran/Vinci use technology, Zerg/Alin use bio/magic, and Protoss/Cuotl use a mixture of the two. Plus the Protoss/Cuotl apparently being more technologically advanced than the others.
- Gas Mask Mooks: Doge's Guard units.
- Golem: Glass Golems. Possibly also Sun Idols, though they could also qualify as Badass Automaton or Humongous Mecha depending on whether or not they need a pilot.
- Glass Cannon: There is a magic cannon made of glass, but it's not much use against anything but buildings and it's rather sturdy for an artillery piece.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Giacomo destroys an alien ship with him left inside.
- Carlini's fight against Czin may or may not count.
- The opening video ends with a lone soldier on the bridge overloading the damaged arm of his mech, blowing the bridge he was standing on, and everyone on it, sky high.
- Humongous Mecha: Giacomo and the Doge ride these, too.
- Land of One City : The various Vinci city states.
- The Magic Versus Technology War: Vinci Steampunk versus Alin magic versus the Cuotl's bizarre Chariots of the Gods-inspired Magic From Technology.
- Mayincatec: The Cuotl.
- Mighty Whitey: Giacomo, to a certain extent.
- No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Averted, to devestating effect, by the Doge in Campaign Mode. While you took out his capital and Cannon of Doom, turns out he took a second one and leveled your home before running away to the desert.
- Our Dragons Are Different: The Alin ones come in Sand, Fire, and Glass varieties.
- 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.
- 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.
- Religion of Evil: The Cuotl.
- Risk Style Map
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Perhaps the Doge shouldn't have killed Giacomo's brother, Petruzzo...
- 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.
- Skunk Stripe: Lenora has a bright red streak.
- Sky Pirate: The Pirata, obviously.
- 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 temoporary Cease-Fire among all factions.
- Tank Goodness: The Vinci Juggernaut is a steampunk tank.
- Technology Levels: Four, down from eight in Rise of Nations.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill
- This Is a Drill: The Industrial Devastation power.
- Two-Faced: Giacomo after being hit with mysterious energy.
- Wave Motion Gun: The Cuotl have this in spades. The Eye of the Gods, the Sun Cannon...
- What Could Have Been: The game was released practically half made. There were designs not for one, but three different "fourth races", one of which was to be included in the game. That means that an entire quarter of the storyline, and entire quarter of the units and heroes and strategies and game mechanics, never saw the light of day. Each of the three "theoretical races" seems to have been at least as original and well thought out as the three that made it into the game... The Kahan were based upon Mongolian culture and mythology, and might have had mobile cities on the back of enormous beasts of burden (and in fact, the map editor still has some icons for their heroes and units). The Skald were based on Finnish mythology with touches of Slavic and Norse, and built cities of ice. Least detailed and most mysterious are the Kragar, which appear to have been some kind of race of bestial giants.
- 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.
- You Killed My Father: Giacomo's motivation, early on, is the death of his brother, Petruzzo.
- 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.)