After the years of real-time strategy games, the traditional formula is starting to get stale – so it’s not surprising that developers are looking to new avenues to get their games to appeal. In Rise & Fall: Civilizations at War, that means inserting a chuck of action into the mix. Rise & Fall puts you in charge of one of four factions from history and lets you play it as a real-time strategy game or as a third-person action game. It’s an interesting concept, though unfortunately its execution is found wanting in Rise & Fall. Simply put, this is a game that doesn’t know what it wants to be. Rise & Fall revisits the ancient worlds of Greece and Rome. In addition to the standard skirmish mode, the game ships with two campaigns with The Alexander campaign having you leading the Greeks against their ancient nemesis, the Persians, while the Cleopatra campaign has you fighting as the Egyptians against the Roman invaders. Famous characters from history and mythology appear throughout the campaigns as hero characters, such as Mark Antony and Achilles, though the focus is definitely on the two titular characters in the campaigns. You’ll get to know them quite well, thanks to a feature called hero command in the game. Hero command lets you toggle between the real-time strategy perspective and controlling a hero directly from a third-person perspective, much like an action game. Doing so lets you hack-and-slash to your heart’s content, which provides an over-the-top way to let you get into the action. As a real-time strategy game, Rise & Fall is very run of the mill.
The conventions of having peasants (or in this case slaves) gathering resources and constructing various buildings is a familiar one, as are the long downtimes during missions while you go through the drawn-out build phase. In the end Rise & Fall attempts a few innovative things with the real-time strategy genre and may either appeal to RTS fans looking for a little bit extra, or confuse strategy fans with an unusual mix of third-person action.