Dark Reign: The Future of War
Cut to the Chase
Well it pains me to say it, being a loyal fan of Red Alert and III, but... yes. Dark Reign IS better than Red Alert... The thing is though - is it 'enough' better? We've already seen Total annihilation, so what does Dark Reign bring to the party? . Well for a start it has some truly excellent features. Firstly the variable terrain adds heaps to the strategy side of things. Putting weak armoured artillery on top of ridges can punch holes in any attack and as such, attackers really have to co-ordinate their efforts at a number of levels. Add to this a line of sight system that only lets you see things that (no... surely) are in your line of sight (so things like hills and trees have a habit of obscuring the scenery) and you have a complex 3D battlefield that shares an awful lot of features with Cavedog's Total Annihilation.
Unit control is much improved thanks to a splendid waypoint system that allows you to direct your armies around the battlefield. You can also give special orders, whereby units will retreat after they sustain a certain amount of damage, or even hunt down enemy units who come within a certain range. It may sound just a little bit complicated when compared to the simple C&C system, but the interface that deals with it is superb and extremely user friendly. Thankfully, icon based menus make complex Al influencing decisions something of a breeze.
Construction is very similar to C&C, except instead of having to build further, advanced installations you can keep upgrading existing structures on the map. There are a wide variety of these as well, from the usual assembly plants all the way to temporal gates and re-arming decks. The number of units available is large and varied and in a similar way to Blizzard's forthcoming StarCraft, the opposing sides feature very different, yet finely balanced vehicles and soldiers. Playing either side offers a very different playing experience and they differ in much the same way that the Rebels and the Empire of Star Wars differ... the Imperium is a heavily armoured, diabolical force, whilst the freedom fighters are more suited to hit and run style operations.
There is a but
The units are well detailed, especially the infantry. But because of the particular style used many of them are difficult to identify at first. That said, on the flip side the sound and Al are both impressive, whilst the standard multiplayer options are easy to set up and great fun.
At the end of the day there are numerous games of this style coming out at the moment. Of the whole bunch there is absolutely no argument that Dark Reign and Total Annihilation both represent an improvement over Red Alert (which is now almost a year old). Both are excellent games, and both offer different features for you to spooge over. However, if you were to buy one or the other, Total Annihilation just wins out at the end, as is apparent from our scores this month. We prefer the atmosphere and the concept of Cavedog's game, but there's no denying that it's close!
Processor: PC compatible,
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode