Dark reign 2
Let it Reign
loved the original Dark Reign. I found the unit mix fun,
balanced and different from everything out there at the time.
Sadly, Total Annihilation came out at about the same time
and it overshadowed what was, in my opinion, a better game. When
Dark Reign 2 was announced, I was very happy. When I found
out it was a 3D RTS, I was even happier. Maybe the franchise could
find its fan base now. Then Ground Control shipped…errggh.
I have played both and, once again, Dark Reign rules the
Pandemic Studios (Battlezone II) have done a great
job on the franchise, and have already released 5 game-enhancing
add-ons…more on those later.
The story takes place in 2506, and the Earth is a wasteland. Pollution
and overpopulation has taken its toll on our planet's ability
to provide for us. Life outside of the “domes” is a desperate
struggle against gangs and the oppressive JDA (Jovian Detention
Authority). The JDA was originally formed to deal with humanity's
criminals, and have now adopted the role of planetary police force.
The Sprawlers have had enough, and their hard fought life has
turned them into a force equal to their oppressors…the final battles
Yeah, I know the story is pretty much standard apocalyptic cliché,
but it will do for our purposes here.
The install is the same ol' same ol' 550MB full install.
The usual suspects are all present: Single player Campaign, Instant
Action and Multiplayer (on WON or TCP/IP). Oddly enough, you do
not need the CD in the drive if you Host a WON game, Join
a WON game or Join a LAN game, but you do if you Play the Campaigns,
Play instant action or Host a LAN game. What is even more surprising
is that the Manual tells you this on page 11. The game is copy
protected with a unique CD key, and it is refreshing to have the
developer reduce the CD hunt for some of the gameplay modes.
Dark Reign 2 (DR2) has a very nice front end. It resembles
a landscape that is one part Blade Runner and one part TRON. It
is just eye candy, but it is a testament of the detail that has
gone into this game. The option screen is robust to the point
of bursting. Under the Video Tab, you can tweak the 3D setting
to the nth degree. I was very happy with all of my choices
to let me get to the best balance of gameplay and graphics. The
Sound Tab also lets you enable the CD player, so you can pop in
any CD you would like to play to. Pandemic have also released
an MP3 player add-on for DR2. Once installed in the “Addon” directory,
this 77k download will allow you to type in a directory for your
MP3 tunage, and will play them in-game. I found this a great little
addition that did nothing to the game, but made me feel like the
game was being supported and improved. It’s also quite interesting
to play DR2 to the soundtracks of 12 Monkeys and Blade Runner.
Gameplay options are also quite numerous. The Campaigns can be
played from either the JDA or Sprawlers' point of view, and whereas
the story is similar, the motivation is quite different and fun
to watch unfold. It is worth it to play both sides to get the
full experience. Instant action is pretty much the best way to
train yourself in the interface and camera controls. Again, there
are many levels of customization in the game set-up. You can even
set the enemy AI’s style of gameplay - aggressive or defensive.
There is a good selection of maps to play on, and given Pandemics
release of the DR2 construction kit, this will increase.
The final mode of play is the ubiquitous Multiplayer. Playing
either over WON or TCP/IP, the game allows for some very fine
Lets get into the game and see what’s up:
Thunder and Reign.
Now, I could go on and on about the gameplay, but to be honest,
DR2 plays like every other RTS out there. Talon is the Resource
Flavor o’ the Month. You mine talon for building material and
you set up Solar Collectors or nuke plants for energy. These two
things allow you to build and power your base. New units become
available as you build different structures.
I don’t want to put you off with this disclosure but, hell, there
is not a lot new in the way the RTS is set up. Let’s look at what
sets DR2 apart from the others:
DR2 uses a full-featured 3D engine. Fully cranked, it can
do 32-bit textures, mirror surfaces (water), 1280x1024x32-bit
max. resolution, and many other tweaks to help you get the most
out of your vid card.
Initially, the camera control will confound you. The sides of
the screens will only scroll you, not rotate your view. The rotate
camera controls are on the number pad. I do find this annoying,
as I have to lift my hand off of the mouse to rotate the camera
view. I would have preferred rebinding the rotate keys to the
“Q”,”E”, “Z” and “C” keys, but I cannot find a way to do that,
yet (hint, hint, Pandemic).
and rating scale
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