Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 30
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 30
  3. Negative: 0 out of 30
Buy On
  1. 100
    The maturation of a genre. More "Civilization" in scope, feel, and satisfaction than even the popular "Age of Empires" series, Rise of Nations is the world's first 4X RTS.
  2. One of the most impressive strategy games we've seen in years.
  3. Rise of Nations revitalizes this genre because it blends the mechanics of real time and turn based strategy games into one. As weird as this may sound, the game does this flawlessly and expounds the gameplay a hundred fold.
  4. A well-designed, well-executed paragon of strategy gaming, although mouse-click maniacs may be disappointed that the game requires more thought than the typical RTS.
  5. A worthy product with far more assets than shortcomings and a campaign game that will keep you playing.
  6. In many ways, Rise of Nations is better than the strategy games that have come before it. It's smarter. It's more challenging. It gives you more to do.
  7. netjak
    Graphically, this game is amazing.
  8. While other games may offer more to immediately get excited about, its charms will last long after their 3D glories wane, and for fast-paced but thoughtful strategy action, you simply cannot do any better.
  9. No current strategy title can give you the clash between horseback cavalry and industrial age tanks and howitzers as compelling as what Rise of Nations brings to the table.
  10. Merging the best of the historical strategies of Civilization and Empire Earth with the dynamics and appeal of the Age of Empires and C&C, giving this RTS the level of detail reserved for turn-based strategies and simulations. And the best thing is - this really works!
  11. Animation of the beautifully rendered characters and unit models particularly livens up the screen, and the attention to detail is often quite remarkable.
  12. The second, more significant disappoint that RON inflicts upon the gamer is the mind numbing singularity of the conquest battles. As much as I love toasting the opposition into roasted marshmallow oblivion, doing so 22 times in a row gets a little old.
  13. 90
    An enormous game... Classic real-time gaming simply doesn't get much better than this.
  14. Rise of Nations is a great fusion of several recent and classic strategy titles. It combines Empire Earth with Age of Empires, puts in a dash of Civilization and Risk, and then mixes it all together with a ton of options for you to play around with.
  15. There is a lot to be said for the city-centric game design, the intricate unit balancing, the smart AI, and the catchy, quickie action, although there isn’t anything here to make the jaded sit up and shout.
  16. 82
    A game that borrows extensively but cautiously from the TBS genre, doing what it does extremely well but offering next to nothing which is new.
  17. 100
    Hidden beneath that glossy surface is a game that takes almost everything that's annoying with real-time strategy titles and fixes it. It's deep, yet accessible. It's action-packed, yet manageable. In short, it's everything you could ask for in a real-time strategy game.
  18. A towering aggregation of everything that's good about strategy gaming.
  19. Aside from the lackluster sounds, Rise Of Nations has Gameplay that rocks and beats out any recent RTS offerings and at a pace that you can be done in 90 minutes or less - all of which makes this an ideal game for almost any gamer.
  20. 80
    Rise of Nations’ biggest weakness—lack of variety—becomes obvious. Every nation is the same, except for some bonus modifiers; there really aren’t that many units; and in the end, you wind up wielding them as a jumbled horde.
  21. What truly sticks out about this real-time strategy game is that it never lets its engrossing depth create a dull moment.
  22. Where Rise of Nations really sets itself apart from the pack is with two innovations: territorial control and a big Risk-like macro game.
  23. GMR Magazine
    Playing Rise of Nations won't make your jaw drop in amazement, but you'll probably still have lots of fun as long as you like RTS games. [Aug 2003, p.74]
  24. PC Gamer
    A stunning achievement in RTS design. [Aug 2003, p.74]
  25. Game Informer
    As solid as bedrock. [July 2003, p.119]
  26. Has a huge amount of game play options and is one of the most intriguing RTS games I have played since Civilization. The only concern I had was with the amount of horsepower required by your computer to play in a bigger game.
  27. Computer Gaming World
    Like its brethren, it is good - but without being amazing or breathtakingly original. [Aug 2003, p.72]
  28. Computer Games Magazine
    This is as unconventional as a conventional real-time strategy game can probably get, at onece like everything and nothing you've ever played. [July 2003, p.66]
  29. Play Magazine
    Possibly the best AI ever found in an RTS. [Aug 2003, p.77]
  30. Entertainment Weekly
    Yes, Nations emphasizes military might over diplomacy, but it's still one of the most intelligent and riveting strategy games we've played in a long time. [18 July 2003, p.83]
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 299 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 4 out of 299
  1. Jun 15, 2011
    for being 2003, this game is stunning. The graphics are great for it's time period. The levels are so fun, and challenging. You can pick sofor being 2003, this game is stunning. The graphics are great for it's time period. The levels are so fun, and challenging. You can pick so many different time periods to start and end with, and playing online especially is the funnest of all. To play against your friends. It's 2011, and i still play this game to this day. There's no bugs, no flaws, nothing. The AI is smart especially for it's day in age. The game is fantastic. 10 from me. Full Review »
  2. Nov 14, 2011
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. I am writing this review 8 years after RoN came out, and it's still one of the best RTS games available. The game comes across as far simpler than it actually is, and never stops fascinating me how intricately interwoven it is. If you want an RTS, you must try this game, and try it again, and again. The mini-game within the game of generating wealth, finding out how long it takes for wonder bonuses to pay themselves back, directing your armies and striking the enemy decisively, the micromanaging of your nation, playing the market for potentially huge advantages. See the drama of an army overtake a city, then the defending nation makes a counter and reclaims it, and together they dance as the front lines oscillate back and forth until one realizes how they can change their tactic and beat the other. See the vast possibilities of different nation abilities, or how much the game suddenly turns on it's head when a new resources becomes available (like oil), or how one nation researching a future tech like AI or World Government or Missile Shield changes everything.

    The game mechanics are fascinating and vast, RoN will show you what an ingeniously designed RTS is like.
    Full Review »
  3. Feb 5, 2014
    I personally think this game is one of the RTS genre masterpieces of all time. It is the game where most features of past RTS's (pre 2003)I personally think this game is one of the RTS genre masterpieces of all time. It is the game where most features of past RTS's (pre 2003) where assembled and refined to the finest detail. This game is great, combat, resource gathering and diplomacy are all complex yet intuitive, achieving a balance that is unheard of.

    Starcraft 1 is good, but I prefer this game by far, Starcraft is somehow limited, as well as AOE or Warcraft. The campaigns in this game are complex and challenging and very rewarding as well. I play this game almost everyday on multiplayer (look for Vugi's patch). I highly highly recommend this game for all RTS fans, and get it with the expansion!
    Full Review »