By Noah Robischon
July 18, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Anyone who idly dreams of ruling the world ought to check out Rise of Nations, which combines the resource-management riddles of Civilization and the Stone Age-to-Space Age timeline from Age of Empires, as well as the combat scenarios of Warcraft. Gameplay is broken down into rounds, each with a time limit and specific goals involving the workers, soldiers, and other citizenry populating this sprawling world. At the end of each round, Nations jumps back to a map on which players can move armies or contemplate what land is ripe for plunder. 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. Not since you and your pals sat hunched around a Risk board at the kitchen table has global domination been this much fun.