While Playing Rise and Fall I find myself thinking about the poetry of Shelley, and not just because I'm an irremediable ponce. You see, this is Empire-Earth creators Stainless Steel Games swansong, having closed down before its release. Well before. Several months before its release, meaning it's only a swansong because someone's holding the bird's neck up, moving its jaw up and down and doing a little ventriloquism. Whatever state the game was in when Stainless Steel went down, it was passed over to Midway itself who finished it off.
This makes the whole thing bring to mind Shelley's famous Ozymandius, with the image of the last fragment of a statue of an emperor in the shifting, endless sands. Stainless Steel may have thought it was making its lasting testament, but what's left... yeah, you can tell the review isn't going to end well. For its fair array of positive traits, it has such fundamental flaws which will mean it'll only appeal to the smallest demographic. Possibly including ex-members of Stainless Steel interested in seeing how the game actually turned out.
At its core it's a basic ancients-style RTS, a la Age of Empires. Resources are gathered and transformed into troops in your settlements and so on. There's a few tweaks to the dynamic, such as a combat boost being related to the size of the unit and the resource "Glory" gained by doing assorted glorious things (e.g. Getting Stuck in, Building big statues saying how ace you are), but there's nothing core which will throw a devotee. Except one thing. The game's Very Special Feature. And it's not a bad Very Special Feature when it just remains a Very Special Feature, but we'll get to that.