Dark Reign
Written by Shigamoto   
Sunday, 11 June 2006
Dark Reign is not as well know as Westwood’s Command&Conquer or Blizzard’s Warcraft II, but nonetheless it deserves a look at.

Water, the essence of life. In the 27th century water is as scarce as Gold and even more precious. Unfortunately the evil Imperium is now controlling all water supplies, and takes advantage of it. The Freedom Guard is initiated, which starts as an insurgent organization to release the water free to the people.

In 1997 when this game was published Real Time Strategy games were all the rage. We saw good titles but many of the very bad. Every game developer made a RTS in those days it seems. Many of them were quit similar, and Dark Reign is really no different. It’s a matter of gathering resources (water and something called Taelon), build units and go to war.

However Dark Reign didn’t stop there, it had a number of features never before seen in an RTS. The game features about 40 units which you can set the behaviour to pursuit range, independence and damage tolerance.

It’s actually a quite neat behaviour function and enables you to create a number of tactical strategies. You don’t have to worry about your units rushing into situations and getting them killed (as in Command&Conquer). The units can also be ordered to scout, or even to move around to different waypoints. When playing the game it can be hard to set the waypoints correctly, it feels as if Auran made the system more complicated that it has to be.

Dark Reign features a number of environments, in my opinion this is one of the best things about the game. There are jungle, winter, forests and desert landscapes, much more terrain to play in than from competing games.

Another nice feature in Dark Reign is that elevation now matters. If your units control a hill they will be able to see more of their surroundings. It will be more difficult for the enemy to attack it since they will have a battle uphill.

The problem is that the developers haven’t been able to display graphically the difference between hills and other terrain. Basically you will notice when your units get a wider field of vision, but it would still be good to know in advance when there is a hill and not.

For a 1997 game Dark Reign has pretty good graphics. Sprites are used as in most of the other games from the era, however the shading and lighting is much better. Outside playing the game there are a couple of story tie-ins. The problem is that they are displayed with text, not FMVs as other RTS games use. Also the texts are a bit too long and complicated to be interesting. I would have preferred video or more pictures to complement the texts. The storyline is solid however, it has its twists and turns during the game and a few surprises.

Dark Reign can also be played in multiplayer, which is pretty fun. Somehow it fails to convey the same experience as Command&Conquer does in multiplayer. I can’t quite put the finger on why, but it fails.

Dark Reign is packed with features some RTS games doesn’t even have today. Except for the features there isn’t much originality in the game, its fun to play but we have seen it in countless games before. The game is not as good as the Command&Conquer series; however Dark Reign is not a bad game. If you like real time strategy you should give it a go.

Related: Command&Conquer, KKND, Command&Conqer: Red Alert
Developer: Auran
Website for Game: http://www.auran.com/games/darkreign/default.htm
Publisher: Activision
O/S: Windows 95/98/ME/XP
Year of Release: 1997

Pentium 90 MHz, 16 MB RAM
Tested on:
AMD Athlon 64 2.2 GHz, 2x512 MB RAM, Geforce 4 64 MB

Be first to comment this article
RSS comments

Only registered users can write comments.
Please login or register.

Powered by AkoComment Tweaked Special Edition v.1.4.6
AkoComment © Copyright 2004 by Arthur Konze - www.mamboportal.com
All right reserved