Eurogamer's conlcusion in their The Settlers: Rise of an Empire review:
"It's a small improvement over the last Settlers, and therefore a game that many devotees will be rooting for, but there's no getting away from the fact that judged against its peers, or even its own ancestors, this is an average offering in terms of depth, challenge and longevity, and blighted by fussy technical snags to boot. There's just enough of the original charm left in its DNA to make Rise of an Empire worth a look for the truly dedicated fan, and I suppose it makes for a fairly accessible introduction to this Olde Worlde RTS sub-genre for cautious newcomers, even though you should really just take the plunge and pick up Anno 1701 instead.
It depresses me to type this, but maybe The Settlers' time has passed. As long as it tries to be all things to all people, instead of playing to its unique strengths, another entry can only send it deeper into the realms of mediocrity. And this series deserves better."